AFC East: Twitter

Last weekend, we wrote an interesting column on setting Year 2 expectations for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami spent a lot of money and resources to boost the roster this year. However, the Dolphins will only go as far as Tannehill takes them.

To further the topic, I took the conversation to Twitter to ask Miami fans what kind of numbers they expected from Tannehill in 2013.

Here were some of the responses:







Last year Tannehill had more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12), and turning that around will be one of the biggest keys to his success. With more weapons such as dynamic receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Dustin Keller, Tannehill has a better chance to succeed in 2013.
The news of the day was the New England Patriots presenting a one-year offer sheet to Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The story was trending today on Twitter, which in part led us to doing a live Twitter chat on the subject.

Here is a partial transcript:

Thanks for the fun chat. We will be doing more live chats through Twitter and other avenues of this when big news happens in the AFC East.
Could four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long return to the Miami Dolphins? It now appears to be a two-team race for Long's services.

NFL Network reports Long is contemplating offers from the Dolphins and St. Louis Rams this weekend. He spent three days in St. Louis last week taking a physical and trying to work out a long-term contract. Long returned to his South Florida home to take time to consider his next move.

Meanwhile, Dolphins teammate Richie Incognito is doing all he can to sway Long’s decision. Incognito, who is a good friend of Long, has been all over Twitter trying to recruit his fellow offensive lineman to return.

It is certainly a noble effort by Incognito. It most likely caught the attention of Long, but it remains to be seen if it sways his final decision.

The Dolphins are already big winners in free agency with or without Long. Miami has added big-name additions like receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and tight end Dustin Keller to an up-and-coming team which was 7-9 last season.

If Long returns to the Dolphins at an affordable rate, that would simply be icing on the cake.

Revis, Sherman involved in Twitter war

February, 20, 2013
Here is something we don't see every day: Two of the top cornerbacks in the NFL engaged in a Twitter war on Wednesday.

New York Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis and Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowler Richard Sherman clearly had a lot to say to each another. From the looks of it, Sherman doesn't think Revis is one of the top corners in the NFL and Revis took exception.

In a roundabout way, this is a classic case of a younger player challenging for the top spot.

Revis, 27, missed most of last season with a knee injury but is still viewed as the best cornerback in football. He's proved it over the past six seasons. Sherman, 24, just finished his second year and is coming on strong.

Sherman further explained his anti-Revis stance on ESPN's NFL32.

“I guess he’s mad, you know,” Sherman said. "Something is going on his side where he’s upset. But he’s been out of the game for a year. What have you done for me lately? That’s the game. That’s how it is and that’s how it’s going to be.”

Revis is not a big trash-talker, but Sherman has a way of getting under a person's skin. Expect this to be further motivation for Revis to get back to 100 percent and prove to younger corners like Sherman that "Revis Island" remains unmatched.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow took the high road last year after he was traded by the Denver Broncos. Tebow said he understands Peyton Manning is a legend, and it made sense for the Broncos to acquire the future Hall of Fame quarterback at his expense.

But Tim Tebow's brother, Peter, didn't follow the quarterback's lead this weekend. Peter Tebow sent an interesting shot to the gut via Twitter to the Broncos and their fans Saturday night after Denver's overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Peter Tebow's comment quickly circulated over the "Twittersphere."

This incident is similar to the recent Twitter situation involving Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings and his sister. Athletes cannot control what family members feel or say about teams. Just because a family member is happy the Broncos lost doesn't guarantee Tim Tebow is also relishing in the defeat. But many will naturally tie the two together.

The Broncos did go out of their way to make the huge acquisition of Manning. They traded Tebow away and got the same result, which has to be an empty feeling for Denver and its fans.

In fact, Tebow won an exciting playoff game in Denver last year to get to the divisional round. Manning was one-and-done. That is why Tebow's brother felt the need to boast.

Slideshow: Buffalo Bills fans celebrate

November, 16, 2012
The Buffalo Bills have one of the best tailgates in the NFL. The AFC East blog asked Bills fans via Twitter to provide photos Thursday night during their nationally televised win over the Miami Dolphins.

Check out our slideshow of some of the interesting photos we received:
Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams hasn't tweeted since July 23. That’s probably a good thing, because Williams is getting drilled for his sub-par play on Twitter.

Williams was celebrated as the biggest offseason signing in Bills history. He inked a $100 million contract with Buffalo but has disappeared more often than not. The Bills are 3-4 and Williams and the defense has underachieved. Williams also has complained about a wrist injury that got the team fined and recently resulted in minor surgery.

Twitter sometimes can be a good litmus test with football fans. A quick search of Williams’ Twitter page, which has more than 32,000 followers, brought back these harsh responses from Bills fans.
  • Sphister writes: “Hey Mario, could we get a refund? #Billsmafia”
  • GiBillsfan40 writes: “Bills fans don’t want you on the team if you don’t try.”
  • JeffreyStalker writes: “Dude you are such a bust. Have some self-respect and try to earn that 100 million dollars.”
  • Wallyre716 writes: “Come on, man. That bad wrist didn’t have a problem signing that contract!”
  • JumpouttheJim writes: “Maybe getting his wrist fixed will help him move his legs.”
  • Diloreto writes: “Why can’t you be like the #Dolphins DEs.”
  • Vinny_AM_ writes: “Not hating but you ever think of using something other than a bull rush? Just saying.”
  • Cechmatee writes: “Kyle Moore is better than you. At least he’s not getting pancaked by tight ends or whining about injuries.”
  • MSamentello13 writes: “Start acting like [Julius] Peppers. Got his money and still an All-Pro.”
  • MtxSalinas writes: “Almost pulled a [Williams] and no-showed to work today.”


This is the harsh reality with today's social media. Fans can voice their frustration directly to the players -- and it's not always nice.

With a huge contract come huge expectations. Williams has immense talent and still has nine games left to show it. It starts Sunday against the Houston Texans, his former team.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman became a national name this week by publicly taunting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after Seattle’s 24-23 victory. Sherman took the taunting to Twitter after the game and made headlines.

It’s been a few days since the event, but Brady didn’t have much to say about it.

"I don’t have any control over that. ... I had no feelings either way,” Brady said Wednesday during his news conference.

Sherman says he has no remorse for the taunting. But it’s time for both players to move on from this story.

The Patriots and Seahawks have big rivalry games upcoming against the Jets and 49ers, respectively. That should be the focus.

Chad Johnson not talking a bad idea

August, 9, 2012
Chad Johnson silenced again?

Oh, no!

The flamboyant and colorful receiver is going back into New England Patriots mode. Johnson briefly told reporters he's "not doing media anymore," according to the Miami Herald.

Johnson's self-imposed muzzle stems from Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin's one-on-one talk with the receiver, which was documented on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Philbin spoke to Johnson about representing the organization the right way after cursing multiple times and making not-so-tasteful jokes in his introductory news conference.

This is not good. The last thing the Dolphins want is the Patriots' version of Chad Johnson, or Ochocinco.

I've covered Johnson in all three stops: Cincinnati, New England and now Miami. I can vouch that Chad needs to be Chad. For whatever reason, Johnson running his mouth makes him perform better. He's just different in that way.

Granted, the Dolphins do not want Johnson to shut up, which basically was the plan in New England. Miami just wants him to tailor his speech. From the team's standpoint, every second sentence doesn’t need an expletive in it.

The good news is Johnson still has an outlet. Even if Johnson stays silent in the media, Chad can still be Chad on Twitter and communicate daily with his 3 million followers.

Johnson needs some kind of an outlet for his colorful personality or it could hurt his performance. As strange as it sounds, Twitter just might save Miami's passing game.
Willie McGinest was right: You cannot beat the New England Patriots in contract negotiations.

The Patriots are emotionless and truly believe no one player is above the team. Many NFL clubs say it but later cave into star players' wishes. The Patriots do not.

Wes Welker is the latest poster child of "The Patriot Way." The deadline for players under the franchise tag passed at 4 p.m. ET Monday without a new extension for Welker. He will receive no long-term security and this could turn out to be his final season in New England.

So how did Welker and New England get to this point?

A case can be made that Welker has done everything right in his five years with the Patriots. He is an undersized receiver who worked very hard to overachieve and outperform a modest contract with New England.

Welker never complained about his previous contract. He signed it and played it out in full. But this offseason was supposed to be a reward for years of staying quiet and playing great football. Welker caught 100 or more passes in four of his five seasons in New England.

Instead, the Patriots are sticking to what they are comfortable with and didn't budge. They want to keep the 31-year-old Welker for at least one more season. New England is willing to risk losing Welker when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2013. Another, more expensive franchise tag is possible next year. But the Patriots will not give Welker a long-term contract at 32, when they wouldn't do it at 31.

McGinest, who won three Super Bowls with New England, warned Welker this offseason during a highly-publicized Twitter spat. McGinest pointed out to Welker that every player is replaceable at One Patriot Drive, and Welker should be happy he’s getting the one-year, $9.5 million offer. Welker scoffed at McGinest but on Monday learned the hard way that McGinest is correct.

The Patriots' harsh approach to doing business under Bill Belichick has worked well the past dozen years. It's hard to argue with three Super Bowl championships and 10 AFC East titles since 2000.

But there are some Patriots casualties who feel cheated along the way. You now can add Welker to that list.
Bounties are a very sensitive subject in the NFL. Pretty much the mention of the word from any pro football player is sure to capture headlines.

That was the case with Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. He injured his knee in Week 1 and was lost for the season against the Buffalo Bills when receiver Steve Johnson blocked him low. The block was deemed legal and didn't draw a flag.

But following the discovery of the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal, Berry recently tweeted "Sometimes I sit [and] wonder if they had a bounty out on me ... oh well ... who cares. Either way [you] can't hold me down."

Berry this week was asked about the tweet by reporters.

"They got the tape out there, you can make your own opinion," Berry said. "I mean, my opinion is my opinion. People are going to take it how they want to take it anyway."

Regardless of Berry's stance, he needs to be more careful with bounty talk. He shouldn't make public accusations against Johnson or any player unless he's absolutely sure. For example, the NFL did a thorough investigation into the Saints that took years to uncover.

Johnson is not known to be a dirty player and denied the hit was intentional in the past. Hopefully, Berry isn't setting a new and dangerous precedent, where every NFL player who suffers a significant injury will publicly accuse an opponent of trying to collect a bounty.

Walker's weekend mailbag

March, 10, 2012
Let's see what's in our AFC East inbox this week

Roger from Boston, Mass., writes: Do you think the New York Jets will look at signing receiver Braylon Edwards this offseason?

James Walker: I think the Jets will look into it, Roger, but it's not a priority. Edwards is a starting-caliber receiver who is cost effective. So he has to be in consideration for the Jets. Edwards also was successful in New York with quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is now the Jets quarterback for at least the next few years.

Michael Romano from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., writes: What do you think the odds are the Jets draft someone to play opposite defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round?

Walker: Nose tackle Sione Pouha is the biggest priority right now, Michael. If Pouha hits free agency Tuesday, it could become problematic. I don't see the Jets going defensive end two years in a row. They have too many other needs. Jets defensive end Mike Devito will be healthy again and he's playing in a contract year. New York might count on him to bounce back next to Wilkerson in 2012.

JR from Tampa Bay writes: James, is your concern with the Miami Dolphins moving up to draft RG3 the cost of moving up alone? If he becomes an elite QB, wouldn't the two first-round picks plus a little extra be worth it?

Walker: It was more about what's realistic, JR. The Dolphins were not giving up three first-round picks like the Washington Redskins did to get Robert Griffin III. That just wasn't going to happen. Miami wants Peyton Manning first, Matt Flynn second.

Janel from Pittsburgh writes: If Miami gets Manning, I could see them drafting Ryan Tannehill in the second round and build the future around him when Peyton packs it up. What do you think about this?

Walker: That's solid, Janel. But there is a slim chance Tannehill falls to the second round. His stock is rising fast and most project him in the top 15. I don't see Miami drafting Tannehill at No. 8, especially if the Dolphins get Manning. But trading down may be an option if Miami gets any offers.

Tony from Rescue, Calif., wants to know what are the chances of the New England Patriots bringing back corner Asante Samuel.

Walker: The Eagles have been reportedly dangling Samuel as potential trade bait, but it's hard to gauge how serious they are. Because it's a trade, that would rule New England out. A trade means the Patriots would have to take on Samuel's big contract, which is why they let him go in the first place, and give up draft picks for him. New England can address its cornerback position in more cost-effective ways, such as the four draft picks in the first two rounds.

Ed from Queens Village, N.Y., writes: Why would Jets or Dolphins go after Peyton Manning? Wouldn't it be better to go with their current QBs, then two or three years down the road look to draft or sign QB?

Walker: Are you a Patriots fan, Ed? Just a guess.

Tom from Indianapolis writes: How do you see the contract situation with Buffalo Bills tailback Fred Jackson playing out?

Walker: The Bills said promised Jackson an extension, and I expect them to follow through. The trick is when will Buffalo do it? Should the Bills wait and go after some big names and outside free agents first? After that, the Bills can see what money is left over and go back to Jackson. Or should Buffalo take care of him now before free agency?

Joe from Buffalo wants to know if former Bills receiver Lee Evans will return.

Walker: I don't see it, Joe. Evans was traded because Buffalo wanted to go with some young receivers like David Nelson and Donald Jones. Evans didn't have a good year with the Baltimore Ravens and I think Buffalo came out on top of that trade.

Jason Boyne from Vilseck, Germany, writes: If Peyton Manning goes to the Dolphins, we have to have the "Manning-Brady Watch" this year!!

Walker: What a great idea, Jason! The Manning-Tom Brady debate has gone on forever. Both are finishing up their careers. It works if Manning signs in Miami or New York. That would be much better than our "Sanchez-Henne-Fitz-Moore Watch."

Comment and complaint department

Here are this week's comments and complaints in the AFC East:

Trevor from New York, N.Y., writes: James, Bills fan here. I'd like to say that I think you're absolutely correct about the Bills having trouble bringing in big free agents. I'm not sure why other Buffalo fans are jumping on you for that, I assume it's just a sensitive subject. It's pretty obvious why some free agents wouldn't want to come to Buffalo. However, I'm optimistic that the Bills will compete in the AFC East this year.

Walker: It’s good to know at least one Bills fan understands. I’m not sure why I’m getting a lot of heat for something that’s fact: The Bills struggle to attract big-name free agents. Look at their track record. And when I say Buffalo is not attractive city for free agents, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad town. It’s just not a place rich, 20-something, professional athletes want to live. It also hurts that the Bills are perennially a losing organization. Both work against them. I saw the same thing happen in Cleveland for years when I covered the Browns. They occasionally landed a top free agent by playing up the hometown angle and overpaying to get their attention. The Bills traditionally do not overpay. But they will have to this year if they want to make a splash.

Paul R. Thomas from Scottsboro, Ala., writes: If MIA is serious about building a team to compete for championships, it serious needs to evaluate QBs and not have a knee-jerk reaction and overpay for either Manning or Flynn. Manning might have three years if he is lucky and the Fins fix the OL. Flynn is a backup with limited game experience. How does Flynn compare with Matt Barkley or Landry Jones? I say fix the OL now and get a QB next year.

Walker: I don’t understand this logic, Paul. Are you saying Miami should tank another season to try to draft Jones or Barkley? Then, wait another two years for that rookie quarterback to develop? One thing that I totally disagree with most NFL coaches and general managers about is this old-school philosophy that it takes three, four or five years to build a winner. No it doesn't, not in today's NFL. Tell that to San Francisco or Cincinnati or Denver, which had zero expectations last year and made the playoffs. You try to do all you can to win now, because you don't know what's going to happen three or four years from now. All the coaches and front office could be fired by waiting that long to be good. The league is set up for every team to have a chance on any given year. The Dolphins should try to get Manning now (if healthy) and take their shot. They will be in contention for the next two or three years with Manniung. Miami can worry about 2015 in 2015.

Joe from N.Y. writes: The Jets had a poor year and much is written about them imploding, which they did. However, I think it has been overblown. For a team that imploded, they were 8-8 and in the playoff mix up until the Giant's game. Most teams that implode are out of it way before that and have losing records. If imploding gets you 8-8, imagine if they were just "slightly" dysfunctional? That would have probably got them at least a playoff appearance.

Walker: The team did legitimately implode, Joe. There some players who didn’t get along with others, and even coach Rex Ryan was unaware of how bad things became. The lack of chemistry and leadership finally showed on the field late in the year. The Jets have playoff talent, I think if the chemistry was better they would have won a couple extra games to get into the playoffs. That’s something they have to fix in the offseason. Ryan says he will.

AFC East Homer of the Week

Our latest homer is a Jets fan. Enjoy.

Ferko from Denver, Colorado, writes: Jets will go all out in free agency. It will start by cutting Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Wayne Hunter, Shonn Greene and Mark Sanchez. From there, we sign Peyton Manning, Mario Williams, Garcon, Colston, Landry and Mike Wallace. The following year we trade our first-round pick and the all-pro Garcon for the first-round pick of the 0-16 Browns (RG3 tears both ACLs on the first snap). From there we draft Matt Barkley who goes down in history as the greatest football player ever.

Walker: Ferko, buddy, I know the air is thin in Denver, but you really need to chill. I was thinking about not running this after the Sanchez extension late Friday night. But this homer post was just too classic to pass up. Congrats on being our "Homer of the Week."
Although not everything can be read accurately from Twitter, New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker seemed genuine in his response to receiving the franchise tag.

On Monday evening, just hours after Welker was tagged, he tweeted, "Glad that I will be a Patriot in 2012 and hopefully '13,'14,'15,'16,'17,'18........"

This is a good sign. Many wonder if Welker will hold out and skip offseason activities if a contract extension isn't reached. It is clear that Welker, who turns 31 in May, would prefer long-term security.

Welker's tag is slated for $9.4 million in 2012. The Patriots and Welker will continue to negotiate, but there is no guarantee an extension will be reached.

Still, these are good, early vibes from Welker. He says he's happy to be in New England this year and remains hopeful that it will be for longer. The next step is to see if Welker signs the tag and eventually shows up to New England's offseason workout program.

Pats-Jets II: Chad Ochocinco doubt?

November, 9, 2011
Now that receiver Chad Ochocinco is tweeting again, we can get a sense of what's on his mind during his struggles with the New England Patriots.

Here is what Ochocinco tweeted Tuesday night:

"You ever work hard at something but it never pans out the way you want or expect to?" Ochocinco said. "Curious how many of you gave up? Be honest?"

Are these seeds of doubt with Ochocinco? He had success all his career with the Cincinnati Bengals. But after eight games, it's clear that Ochocinco has not been a good fit with the precise, detail-oriented offense in New England.

I still think Ochocinco is capable of having productive games if he ever gets on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady. But time is running out to produce. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is showing he has no time to wait for players to come around.

Ochocinco has nine receptions for 136 yards in eight games. He's on pace for just 18 receptions and 272 yards, which would be career lows for the 11-year veteran.

WR Marshall keeping tabs on Joe Haden

September, 21, 2011
DAVIE, Fla. -- In Brandon Marshall's mind, Sunday's high-profile matchup with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been months in the making.

The Dolphins' receiver and two-time Pro Bowler said Wednesday that he's been keeping an eye on Haden -- a rising star at cornerback -- through social media during the offseason. Marshall expects a tough matchup with Haden on Sunday.

"A young guy like that, he's very talented," Marshall said of Haden. "He's hungry. He puts a lot into it. I followed him on Twitter just to keep up with him and see what he's doing. When I got on Twitter in February, he was one of the first guys I followed, just to check him out and for this weekend here.

"I have my work cut out for me. He's pretty good."

This is a revenge game for Miami (0-2). The Browns (1-1) beat the Dolphins, 13-10, last year at Sun Life Stadium. The difference this year is the game is played in Cleveland. Marshall and the Dolphins are 6-2 in their last eight road games.

"I'm glad it's not cold up there. That's what I hate," Marshall said of traveling to Cleveland. "But the Dawgpound, that excites me. So I hope they're loud and rowdy like they usually are."