AFC East: Trace Armstrong
Two AFC East clubs and a Bill Belichick team made the cut.
The 1995 Cleveland Browns were 10th. Belichick took Cleveland to the playoffs the year before and got off to a 3-1 start before owner Art Modell's shocking decision to move the team to Baltimore. Cleveland meekly limped to a 5-11 exit.
Ninth were the 1996 New York Jets. They'd gone an unpromising 3-13 the year before, but McCormick rattles off a list of expensive veteran acquisitions that were supposed to turn around Rick Kotite's squad: quarterback Neil O'Donnell, left tackle Jumbo Elliott and right tackle David Williams. The Jets also drafted receiver Keyshawn Johnson first overall. They went 1-15.
The 1995 Miami Dolphins came in fifth. That was Don Shula's swan song. They'd gone 10-6 the previous season, winning the AFC East with a healthy Dan Marino. They added tight end Eric Green, defensive end Trace Armstrong and cornerback Terrell Buckley. They got off to a 4-0 start but fizzled as a wild-card playoff team and a quick exit.
New York Jets
- Newsday columnist Bob Glauber offers a proposal that will appease both the Jets and displeased running back Thomas Jones.
- Niagara Gazette sports editor Tim Schmitt checks in on the recovery of linebacker Alvin Bowen, who missed his rookie year with a knee injury.
- Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan takes a look at changes in the AFC East through the eyes of the Bills.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick asks Trace Armstrong what we can expect from a 35-year-old Jason Taylor.
- Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero examines whether the Dolphins really need a so-called No. 1 receiver.
- Palm Beach Post columnist Dave George reminds us athleticism isn't enough to cut it in the NFL.
New England Patriots
- Shalise Manza Young of the Providence Journal takes a look at running back Laurence Maroney's crossroads season.
- Maroney "knows that the time is now for him to prove to Patriots coaches and personnel evaluators that he can carry the load," Mike Petraglia writes for WEEI.com.
- ESPN.com's Seth Wickersham takes a look at the most lopsided divisional rivalries, and the Patriots-Bills make the cut.
I think it's safe to say AFC East quarterbacks want Brandon Marshall to shut up.
The Denver Broncos receiver was a verbal target for Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter on Sunday. The Dolphins won 26-17, holding Marshall without a catch in the first half and to just two for the game.
Marshall publicly responded to Porter on Tuesday. The Broncos and Dolphins won't play each other again (unless they both make the playoffs), but given the fact Porter converts trash talk to into fuel, upcoming opponents can't be too thrilled.
Porter is having an epic campaign and, with a strong homestretch, could wrangle defensive player of the year honors.
Porter leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks,
already a career-high for the three-time Pro Bowler. He is on pace to break Michael Strahan's NFL season sacks record of 22.5.
Since sacks became an official NFL stat, Porter is off to the best start among any Dolphins player through eight games. That's saying something for a franchise that's featured such defensive stars as Jason Taylor, Trace Armstrong, Bryan Cox, Doug Betters and Bill Stanfill.
Even when including Miami's unofficial sack leaders before 1982, Porter is on pace to obliterate the franchise record. Stanfill and Taylor share it with 18.5 sacks.
Porter has at least a half-sack in each of his past six games and a full sack in four straight games.