Tuesday, September 22, 2009
How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
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1. Miami Dolphins defense: No words were minced in the Dolphins' locker room after the Colts needed only 35 offensive plays and less than 15 minutes time of possession to beat them Monday night in Land Shark Stadium. Head coach Tony Sparano and defensive spokesmen Joey Porter and Jason Taylor each admitted the loss was theirs to bear.
The Dolphins' offense did enough. They turned every possession into a long slog. The Wildcat was purring. Ronnie Brown was shredding. Chad Pennington was his usual efficient self. But the defense leaked all over the place. The Colts averaged 10.3 yards per play, and Peyton Manning barely was unbothered all night.
2. Joey Galloway, Patriots receiver: It's so strange to see two veterans such as Galloway and Tom Brady unable to get on the same page after so many weeks of practices, exhibitions and two regular-season games. Galloway looks like he was dropped off on the Patriots' doorstep yesterday and told to play without a peek at the playbook.
Brady has been finding his other receivers. He connected with Randy Moss 12 times in the season opener. Brady found rookie Julian Edelman -- who played quarterback in college -- eight times on Sunday. But Galloway has been a mystery. Through two games, Brady has tried to hook up with him 14 times, but Galloway has five receptions.
3. Ted Ginn, Dolphins receiver: I'm hesitant to include Ginn on this list. Statistically, he had a wonderful night. He had 11 catches, tying him for third on Miami's single-game receptions list, for 108 yards.
But Ginn had the chance to win it for the Dolphins. He dropped what would have been the game-winning touchdown in the waning moments. Pennington's pass hit Ginn in the hands, in the end zone. The catch wouldn't have been simple, but it's the kind that ninth-overall draft picks should be expected to make.
1. Rex Ryan, Jets head coach: He believed in his team so much he dared to disregard the Patriots weeks before they would meet. His players, energized by their leader's bravado (especially compared to their aloof former coach, Eric Mangini), amped up the pregame rhetoric with some smack of their own.
When the Jets and Patriots finally crossed paths Sunday at the Meadowlands, Ryan and his players backed up their big words with a 16-9 victory. Ryan's dynamic defense was vital to the effort, harassing Brady all afternoon, and hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown through the first two games.
2. Fred Jackson, Bills running back: You can't even call Jackson a castoff because nobody really ever wanted him. Bills fans know the story, but the rest of the country still probably has no clue who this guy is. Jackson went undrafted, obviously, out of Division III Coe College. He played in the arena minors, found his way to NFL Europa, the Bills practice squad and the active roster.
Jackson was the NFL's most underrated running back last year and, with Pro Bowl back Marshawn Lynch suspended, has been catalyst for a surprising Bills offense. Jackson ranks fifth in rushing with 220 yards and has added 108 more yards receiving. He rushed for a career-high 163 yards in Sunday's romp over the Buccaneers.
3. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins running back: Brown might be the NFL's most underappreciated superstar. Rarely is he mentioned in conversations about the best running backs. Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner ... Those are your first-round fantasy football picks. People look at his stats and see a player capitalizing off a gimmick offense.
Fact is, Brown is a stud. He proved it again Monday night, doing just about everything humanly possible to propel the Dolphins to victory. Brown ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a wacky loss. Maybe Sparano should have used Brown on defense, too.