Friday, September 16, 2011
Final Word: AFC East
By James Walker
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 2:
Chad Henne had arguably the best performance of his career against the Patriots Monday, throwing for 416 yards.
All eyes on Henne: Few quarterbacks have received more heat this offseason than Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne. But the fourth-year player had the best outing of his career in Week 1. Henne threw for 416 yards and had three total touchdowns (two passing, one running) against the New England Patriots. But was it a fluke or will Henne keep that momentum going Sunday against the Houston Texans? This is a make-or-break year for Henne. He needs to continue to play well to erase doubts from his previous three seasons.
Last shot for a while at home: Miami's struggles at home are well documented. The team is 1-8 in its previous nine games at Sun Life stadium dating to last season. But Miami could be in trouble if it drops back-to-back home games to start this season. Miami will hit the road for three straight games following Sunday's matchup against Houston. The Dolphins were road warriors (6-2) in 2010. But winning six road games two years in a row is very difficult. Miami will play at Cleveland (Sept. 25), at San Diego (Oct. 2) and at the New York Jets (Oct. 17) after a bye week.
Stacking the box: On paper, the offense of the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) appears to be a favorable matchup for the New York Jets' defense. Look for the Jets' game plan to be simple: Stack the box against the run and see if Jaguars quarterback Luke McCown can beat them. Jacksonville ran the ball 47 times last week to protect its journeyman quarterback. Most likely that approach wouldn't get very far against the Jets' front seven. McCown needs a good game to beat New York.
Another RB test for Bills: There are plenty of great matchups to watch in Week 2 in the AFC East. But one I'm really looking forward to is the run defense of the Buffalo Bills (1-0) versus Oakland Raiders (1-0) tailback Darren McFadden. The Bills held Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl tailback Jamaal Charles to 56 yards rushing last week. McFadden is coming off a 150-yard rushing performance in a win over the Denver Broncos. Winning this battle should go a long way toward determining which team stays undefeated.
The new guy at center: New England Patriots veteran center Dan Koppen reportedly will miss eight to 10 weeks with a fractured fibula. This puts Dan Connolly, who filled in at guard last season, in the middle at center against the San Diego Chargers (1-0). New England ran a lot of no-huddle and quick-huddle on offense last week. That requires a lot from the center, who has to work with the quarterback to make the proper adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had great chemistry with Koppen. That will be hard for Connolly to replicate.