NFL Nation: Aaron Maybin

NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at the top under-the-radar move made by each AFC North team thus far this offseason:

Baltimore Ravens. Marcus Spears, defensive end. When it comes to Baltimore's defensive line, the big-name signing in free agency was Chris Canty. The addition of Spears didn't generate much buzz because he never reached expectations of a first-round pick with the Cowboys and ended his time in Dallas as a backup. But Spears will make a significant contribution to the Ravens' run defense, which finished No. 20 in the NFL last season. Spears will be asked to handle the unforgiving job of taking on double-teams, which allows Haloti Ngata and the inside linebackers to be more effective. The Ravens' defensive line won't wear down as it did last season, because Spears gives Baltimore experienced depth.

Cincinnati Bengals. Aaron Maybin, linebacker. Some may be asking: When did Maybin join the Bengals? That's the definition of being under the radar. Technically, Maybin wasn't signed during the free-agency period. He was added in late January. Maybin was a first-round bust in Buffalo, but the Bengals have had success with reclamation projects (see safety Reggie Nelson). He is also still young; he turns 25 on Saturday. Maybin, who has six sacks in 48 career games, will get a shot to redeem himself in Cincinnati. The Bengals have a need at outside linebacker after the team let Manny Lawson sign with the Bills and didn't re-sign Thomas Howard (which could still happen down the road). If the Bengals don't address the linebacker position in the draft, Maybin will compete against Emmanuel Lamur, Dontay Moch and Vincent Rey for a starting job.

Cleveland Browns. Quentin Groves, linebacker. The addition of Groves got lost in the Browns' fast start in free agency, when they signed linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. Although Groves won't be a starter like Kruger or Bryant, he will serve an important role behind the scenes. Groves will help in the Browns' transition to Ray Horton's 3-4 defense after playing under him last season in Arizona. It was obvious that Groves clicked with Horton. A 2008 second-round pick by the Jaguars, Groves struggled in his two years in Jacksonville and two years in Oakland. In his first season with Horton, Groves recorded career highs in tackles (46) and sacks (four). He will try to repeat that success for the Browns.

Pittsburgh Steelers. Larry Foote, linebacker. All of the Steelers' moves fall into the under-the-radar category because they don't have the salary-cap room to make any other kind. And, by most standards, Foote is an under-the-radar type player. Outside of those Terrible Towel-waving fans, few knew the leading tackler for the NFL's top-ranked defense was Foote. It was key for the Steelers to re-sign Foote a few hours before he was set to hit the free-agent market. There was speculation he was headed for Arizona. The Steelers didn't miss longtime starter James Farrior in 2012 because of Foote's surprisingly strong season. In 16 starts, Foote finished with a career-high 113 tackles and tied a career best with four sacks.
The Bengals continued their offseason hobby of picking up former first-round picks, adding linebacker Aaron Maybin on Friday.

Maybin has been a first-round bust who has not lived up to the expectations of being the 11th overall pick by the Bills in 2009. In 48 games, he has totaled 36 tackles, six sacks and five forced fumbles.

He showed promise in 2011, his first season with the Jets, when he had six sacks and four forced fumbles. But the Jets cut him in November after Maybin had one tackle and no sacks in eight games.

There's no risk involved in the Bengals signing Maybin. The Bengals have a need for linebackers with two outside ones (Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson) becoming unrestricted free agents.

This falls in line with what Cincinnati did last season. The Bengals signed six former first-round picks: cornerbacks Adam Jones and Jason Allen, safety Reggie Nelson, defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson and defensive end Derrick Harvey.

Of that group, only Jones and Nelson became impact players. Based on Maybin's history, I suspect he'll follow the path of Harvey, who failed to make the regular-season roster.

Report: New York Jets cut Aaron Maybin

November, 13, 2012
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The New York Jets have cut defensive end Aaron Maybin after recording just one tackle in nine games. The move opened the door for the Jets to add running back Khalil Bell, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Maybin was a former first-round pick and draft bust for the Buffalo Bills. But he had a career year with the Jets in 2011 after registering six sacks as a backup.

But Maybin proved to be a one-year wonder. He made zero impact for the Jets and was struggling mightily against the run.

New York needed running back depth behind starter Shonn Greene. Backup tailbacks Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) are fighting through injuries.

Dolphins are at a crossroads

October, 26, 2012
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Ryan TannehillRonald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesSince struggling Sept. 23 against the Jets, Ryan Tannehill has put together three solid games.

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush walked into the media room with a smirk on his face Wednesday.

“Packed house,” Bush said with a grin. “I wonder why.”

Miami rookie head coach Joe Philbin entered minutes later and also noticed a larger-than-usual media corps. It was quiet confirmation that the Dolphins finally are doing something right.

It’s been four years since the Dolphins have been this interesting. That was 2008, when former coach Tony Sparano led Miami to an unexpected 11-5 season and an AFC East title.

Since then, the Dolphins have pretty much been a bad punchline. This summer alone, Miami had to slog through a winless preseason and handle the Chad Johnson fiasco on national television during HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” A 1-3 start to the regular season also didn’t help things.

But the Dolphins are suddenly interesting again. They have won two straight with a talented rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and a physical defense. Many now are wondering whether Miami is just a flash in the pan or potentially a surprise team in the second half of the season.

The Dolphins (3-3) are at a crossroads, and Sunday they travel to MetLife Stadium to face the rival New York Jets (3-4). This matchup will greatly affect the direction of both AFC East teams.

“It’s a big game,” the usually calm Philbin said. “No question about it.”

Added Jets coach Rex Ryan, “It’s a huge game for both teams. If it’s said otherwise, it’s not true, because nobody believes it. Everybody knows how huge this game is.”

Is Miami a contender or pretender?

This rebuilt Miami team wasn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2012. But the division is mediocre and so is the AFC, and suddenly the wild-card spots are wide open for any teams that can get hot.

[+] EnlargeJoe Philbin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire"It's a big game," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said of Sunday's matchup with the Jets. "No question about it."
The veteran Jets have been there before. They went to back-to-back AFC title games in 2009 and 2010. It’s the younger, less experience Dolphins who have to prove they are legit.

This is a golden opportunity for Miami to bury the Jets and send them packing for the season at 3-5. That is a record New York most likely cannot recover from, especially with its best player (Darrelle Revis) and No. 1 receiver (Santonio Holmes) lost for the season.

If the Dolphins are legit, they won’t let New York “ground and pound” their defense. Miami’s run defense is fifth in the NFL, and another good performance would force the New York to go to its air attack and quarterback Mark Sanchez.

If the Dolphins are legit, they will establish Bush and their ground game on the road against a Jets defense ranked 30th against the run. The combination of running well and stopping the run has kept Miami in nearly every game this season.

If the Dolphins are legit, Tannehill will continue to show improvement after the bye. He struggled against New York’s defense in the first meeting, throwing for just 196 yards and a costly pick-six. But Tannehill’s quarterback ratings in three games since have been 86.5, 92.3 and 112.0.

“I think he’s steadily improved each and every week,” Dolphins guard Richie Incognito said. “He’s done a really good job knowing what the defense is trying to do to us and putting us in the right protections and the right run calls.”

There are no excuses for the Dolphins, who have had two weeks to rest and prepare for their biggest rival. Miami nearly beat the Jets in overtime in the first meeting, and the Dolphins have seen enough tape to adjust to what went wrong.

Unlike the Jets, the Dolphins have been very fortunate with injuries and will enter this game virtually at full strength. Cornerback Richard Marshall (back) is the only player not expected to be available on Sunday. The Jets have injuries at linebacker (Bart Scott), defensive line (Sione Pouha, Kenrick Ellis) and running back (Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight).

A caveat might be the trash talking and emotion. These rivals simply don’t like each other. The back and forth between Dolphins players such as Bush and center Mike Pouncey and Jets players such as LaRon Landry and Aaron Maybin have made for a fun week. Landry has gone as far as to guarantee a win for the Jets.

Whether the trash talking leads to rough play remains to be seen.

“I go back to the game I saw on September 23 (and) it was a hard fought game by both teams,” Philbin said. “I didn’t think it was a dirty game. Players played hard and I suspect that will be what happens this time around.”

The Dolphins have another thing going for them: Miami has never been swept by the Jets under Ryan. The Dolphins will be motivated not to let their biggest rival accomplish that feat.

“We know who we’re playing. This is a good football team,” Ryan said. “The fact that we’ve never beat them twice, that kind of gives us energy. The fact that we can go 3-1 in our division with two wins over Miami, that would be huge. So we see it as a real possibility.”

If the Dolphins are truly a contender, they will win this game and position themselves to make a push in the second half of the season. On the other hand, a loss by the Dolphins would throw them back in the pack of mediocre, sub-.500 teams.

It’s time for Miami to make its choice.

Aaron Maybin returning to Jets

April, 16, 2012
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The New York Jets will officially return one of their top pass-rushers from last season.

As expected, Jets outside linebacker Aaron Maybin signed a one-year tender Monday to kick off New York's voluntary offseason workout program. The restricted free agent led the Jets with six sacks in 2011.

Maybin, a former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, was cut last summer and picked up by New York. He became one of the league's surprise free-agent acquisitions and fit in well with the Jets.

New York needs more pass-rushers on defense and probably will do so via the draft. But Maybin hopes to build off his career-best season.
The Dallas Cowboys haven't made it official yet, but the sense is that they will designate outside linebacker Anthony Spencer as their franchise player today. That's the sense Spencer has, at least, according to what he told The Dallas Morning News:
Spencer
Anthony Spencer has mixed emotions over what will happen Monday afternoon.

The outside linebacker wants to stay with the Cowboys. But he'd prefer to do so with a long-term contract rather than the franchise tag the club is expected to use to prevent him from hitting the open market.

"It looks like they are going to put the tag on me,'' Spencer said. "That's a good thing and a bad thing.

"It's good because it shows how much they think of me. But you don't want to be playing on a one-year contract. You want a longer deal and the security that gives your family.

"But hey, I understand. It's a business.''

As David Moore points out in his story, the Cowboys have only used the franchise player designation twice under Jerry Jones, and both times they agreed with the player on a long-term deal before the start of that season. It's certainly possible they will do the same with Spencer. Heck, it's possible they'll do that with Spencer today, before the franchise deadline. But Spencer's an interesting and somewhat unique case, and it's not an open-and-shut deal for the Cowboys to lock him up long term.

Spencer is good against the run and in pass coverage, but he's not the pass-rusher the Cowboys would like to have at the outside linebacker spot opposite DeMarcus Ware. The man playing in that spot should be able to get to quarterbacks -- especially given the extra attention Ware draws from blockers. But Spencer is a disappointment as a pass-rusher, and his sack numbers aren't what the Cowboys hoped they would be at this point in his career.

Nonetheless, unless they're going to get into the Mario Williams market -- a market that's likely to result in Williams being the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history -- there are very few options at pass-rusher for the Cowboys in free agency, and it's hard to find one who'd represent a clear upgrade over Spencer. They could cut him loose and take their chances that they can find a pass-rusher in the draft or turn up a discarded potential gem the way the Jets did last year with Aaron Maybin. But they appear to have decided to hedge their bets and hold onto Spencer.

The question is: For how long? Locking up Spencer would seem to be equivalent to rewarding mediocrity, as several of our ESPNDallas.com writers have pointed out. Franchising him and letting him have one more year to bring the sack numbers up isn't a bad idea on its face, but it's going to cost them $8.8 million guaranteed to do that, and unless they do a long-term deal that lowers his 2012 number, that could hurt them against the cap as they hunt for the cornerbacks, safeties and guards they need.

It's a thorny situation, but it appears as though the Cowboys have decided the good with Spencer outweighs the disappointment, especially in light of other options. It's a tough business decision, and it's not likely to play well with the fans, but franchising Spencer right now is the right thing to do.

2011 All-AFC East Team

January, 5, 2012
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Darrelle Revis/Rob Gronkowski/Brandon MarshallGetty ImagesDarrelle Revis, left, Rob Gronkowski, middle, and Brandon Marshall shined in 2011.
The 2011 season was an interesting one filled with ups and mostly downs for the AFC East. Only one team finished with a winning record.

But that doesn't mean the AFC East lacked great individual performances. For example, the division produced an MVP candidate at quarterback who threw for more than 5,000 yards and another stellar season from the best cornerback in football.

Here is our All-AFC East Team for 2011:

Quarterback: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Analysis: There is no question about this one. Brady set a new career-high with 5,235 passing yards, which surpassed Dan Marino's old record. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (5,476) finished with more yards and has the new record. Brady is the single biggest reason the Patriots are 13-3 and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. His performance carried New England through injuries and inconsistencies in other areas. Brady will be chasing his fourth Super Bowl title in the playoffs.

Running back: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills

Analysis: This might be a controversial pick, because two other running backs -- Reggie Bush and Shonn Greene -- had 1,000-yard seasons. But Jackson was the best running back I watched this season. He simply had some bad luck, suffering a season-ending leg injury. He was on his way to making his first Pro Bowl. Jackson rushed for 934 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games. He had an additional 442 yards receiving. His numbers would be off the charts if he'd played the final six games.

Fullback: Charles Clay, Dolphins

Analysis: Clay was one of the surprise rookies from Miami's draft class. He was a good blocker for Bush, has great hands and knows what to do with the football. Clay caught 16 passes for 233 yards. He averaged 14.6 yards per reception, which is astounding for a fullback. John Conner of the Jets is the best blocking fullback. But Conner is not a receiving threat.

Receivers: Wes Welker, Patriots; Brandon Marshall, Dolphins

Analysis: The best receivers in the AFC East this season are a pair of Pro Bowlers. Welker had an unbelievable year. He set a new career high with 1,569 yards. He also caught 122 passes and was one of the league's most sure-handed receivers. Marshall, in contrast, wasn't sure-handed. He had plenty of big drops, but still had a good season. Marshall caught 81 passes for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns. What's even more impressive is that Marshall put up big numbers despite Miami's in-season quarterback switch from Chad Henne to Matt Moore.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

Analysis: Gronkowski showed flashes as a rookie. But no one knew he would explode the way he did in his second season. "Gronk" set an NFL record for tight ends with 17 touchdowns. He averaged more than one per game, despite many teams' focus on stopping him late in the season. Gronkowski finished with 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and made his first Pro Bowl. Considering he's only 22, it will most likely be the first of many Pro Bowls.

Center: Nick Mangold, Jets

Analysis: Jets head coach Rex Ryan says a lot of things. But we believe him when he says Mangold is the best center in the NFL. Mangold fought through an ankle injury but had another solid season. He was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. The Jets' offensive line was up and down but completely fell apart when Mangold missed two games. New York's entire running game and blocking scheme is built around its center -- and for good reason.

Guards: Logan Mankins, Patriots; Andy Levitre, Bills

Analysis: Mankins, who made his fourth Pro Bowl, stayed healthy right up until the end and played 15 of 16 games. He should be ready for the playoffs. Levitre was one of my favorite players to watch because of his versatility. He's a very good guard, a solid offensive tackle and struggled at center. Levitre was forced to play all three positions in Buffalo this season because of injuries.

Offensive tackles: Jake Long, Dolphins; Matt Light, Patriots

Analysis: Long played through injuries all season. His back bothered him, and he ended up on injured reserve after tearing his biceps. But Long at 80 percent is still better than most left tackles, and he was good enough to make his fourth Pro Bowl in four years. Light gets our last tackle spot over New York's D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The Pro Bowl nod went to Ferguson. But Ferguson struggled at times this season and didn't play up to his usual standards. I think Ferguson got in on reputation and name recognition.

Defensive ends: Andre Carter, Patriots; Mark Anderson, Patriots

Analysis: No one flinched when the Patriots quietly signed a pair of veteran defensive ends in free agency to bolster their pass rush. Most of the focus was on big-name acquisitions such as receiver Chad Ochocinco and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. But two of New England's best signings were Carter and Anderson. Each finished with 10 sacks, and Carter made the Pro Bowl despite a late, season-ending quad injury. For all of New England's issues on defense, arguably its biggest strength was rushing the passer. The Patriots registered 40 sacks, and Carter and Anderson combined for half of that total.

Defensive tackles: Vince Wilfork, Patriots; Sione Pouha, Jets

Analysis: Wilfork, 30, continues to improve with age. He combines strength and smarts to play defensive tackle/nose tackle. Wilfork finished with 52 tackles and 3.5 sacks. But it was his two interceptions this season that were most memorable. Wilfork rumbled for 28 and 19 yards, respectively, on his two picks. The second defensive tackle was one of the most difficult selections. But we went with Pouha over Miami's Paul Soliai. Pouha's numbers were more impressive for a nose tackle. He recorded 58 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. Soliai played well for Miami but registered only 27 tackles.

Outside linebackers: Cameron Wake, Dolphins; Calvin Pace, Jets

Analysis: It was a down year for outside linebackers in the AFC East. Wake and Pace were the best of a thin crop. Wake's sack numbers dipped from 14 to 8.5 this season. Teams put more focus on Wake, and he faced more double teams. Pace stayed healthy this season but recorded his lowest sack total (4.5) since 2006. Pace's backup, Aaron Maybin, led the Jets with six sacks.

Inside linebackers: David Harris, Jets; Karlos Dansby, Dolphins

Analysis: Harris continues to be one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Harris was the Jets' most consistent defensive player outside of Darrelle Revis. He was always around the football and recorded 86 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions. The second inside linebacker was another tough call. But we think Dansby had a slightly better season than New England's Jerod Mayo. A tailback getting 100 yards against the Dolphins' defense was rare, in large part due to Dansby. He established a physical presence in the middle for Miami and recorded 103 tackles and two sacks.

Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, Jets; Kyle Arrington, Patriots

Analysis: What more can you say about Revis? He had another great season for the Jets. He led New York with 21 passes defended, and tied for the team lead with four interceptions. One pick was returned 100 yards for a touchdown. Teams opted to attack Revis more this season, which allowed more chances for him to make big plays. Arrington was this year's version of Devin McCourty. New England gave up a lot of passing yards, but Arrington made the most of his interception opportunities. He led the Patriots with seven picks and had 88 tackles.

Safeties: Yeremiah Bell, Dolphins; George Wilson, Bills

Analysis: The safeties struggled in the AFC East this season. But Bell was probably the most consistent in the division. He led Miami with 107 tackles. He also had two sacks and one interception. Wilson played lights out at times, particularly early in the season. He set a career high with 106 tackles and tied a career mark with four interceptions. Wilson did all of this despite missing three games with injuries.

Punter: Brandon Fields, Dolphins

Analysis: Fields was spectacular this season. He averaged 48.8 yards per punt and had 32 punts inside the 20. Fields was the only Dolphins player exciting to watch during Miami's ugly 0-7 start. Fields had a Pro Bowl season. But Oakland Raiders punter and Pro Bowler Shane Lechler is probably the best punter in the NFL.

Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

Analysis: Fantasy football players fell in love with Gostkowski this season. New England's high-scoring offense constantly put Gostkowski in position to rack up points, and he usually came through. Gostkowski led New England in scoring with 143 points. He made 28 of 33 field goals and all 59 extra points. The pressure of the playoffs always is different for kickers. But Gostkowski has shown no signs that he will be bothered by it.

Return specialist: Joe McKnight, Jets

Analysis: McKnight was a must-see because something exciting could happen every time he touched the ball. McKnight was fun to watch in the open field. He averaged 31.6 yards per kick return and is a Pro Bowl alternate on special teams. His longest of the season was a 107-yard touchdown return. The next step for McKnight is to develop as a running back. With LaDainian Tomlinson a free agent, McKnight could get a chance to backup Greene next season.

Jets regular-season wrap-up

January, 4, 2012
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NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 19
Preseason Power Ranking: 7

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesMark Sanchez was unable to make progress in his third NFL season.
Biggest surprise: Guess who led the Jets in sacks this season? Aaron Maybin. Yes, that Aaron Maybin. The same Maybin who was a draft bust for the Buffalo Bills and cut before training camp. The Jets saw potential in Maybin and invited him to training camp. With a change of scenery and scheme, Maybin showed some of the things in New York that he showed in college to make him a first-round pick. Maybin briefly made New York's 53-man roster out of training camp. Then, he was released. When the Jets picked Maybin up again during the season he was ready. Maybin helped the Jets with a team-high six sacks, which should put him in consideration for the NFL's Most Improved Player.

Biggest disappointment: This was the year New York's coaching staff thought quarterback Mark Sanchez would make major strides. This was the year the offense would be put in Sanchez's hands and would finally catch up to New York's talented defense. But that plan didn't pan out. Sanchez wasn't ready to take the next step in his third season and coach Rex Ryan pulled back the reigns. The Jets went back to their ground-and-pound offense and tried to protect Sanchez. The offense was bland, predictable and Sanchez struggled. New York's offense was ranked No. 25 in the NFL. Sanchez's numbers slightly improved. But the team still had to protect him in his third season, and that's not acceptable for a top-five draft pick. Sanchez needs to make a lot of improvements next season to be considered among the upper-echelon quarterbacks in the NFL.

Biggest need: There are several reasons the Jets were inconsistent, but the biggest reason was the offensive line. The Jets need to upgrade the right tackle position immediately. Wayne Hunter draws too many flags and struggles in pass protection. The front office needs to find a better front-side protector for Sanchez. The offensive line as a group played a notch or two lower than it was capable of. The Jets need to add depth and competition at guard. Center Nick Mangold was fine, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson wasn't as good as previous years. Both made the Pro Bowl, although Ferguson made it more on name recognition.

Team MVP: I know it's early. But I feel pretty safe in saying that Darrelle Revis will be an all-time great. Revis put together another Pro Bowl year and is easily the team's MVP. Revis is dominating a position that is nearly impossible to dominate. The rules are tilted in favor of the offense and receivers to promote scoring. But Revis has found a way to consistently shut down opponents from the cornerback position. His ability to stick to and frustrate receivers is fun to watch. His hand-eye coordination is the best in the NFL. It's considered an event when a receiver catches a couple passes on Revis. Perhaps the biggest shame is that Revis, 26, is a unique talent in his prime, and the Jets are wasting those prime years by fumbling around in other areas.

Free-agent watch: The Jets have several interesting free agents. Offensively, New York has to decide whether to bring back starting receiver Plaxico Burress and/or backup tailback LaDainian Tomlinson. Burress was signed on a one-year rental to see if he has anything left after spending time in prison. Burress showed flashes, particularly in the red zone. But he will be 35 in August and struggles to get vertical. The Jets may need an upgrade opposite receiver Santonio Holmes. Tomlinson's role was reduced this year and he is considering retirement. Defensively, New York has to decide what to do with starting safety Jim Leonhard. He's an underrated player. It's evident as the defense fell apart this season when he was out of the lineup. Leonhard suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the year and has a long rehabilitation process ahead. That could impact and delay whether the Jets pursue him.

AFC East Stock Watch

December, 6, 2011
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Buffalo Bills' defense: Buffalo has lost five consecutive games, and the biggest reason is its inconsistent defense. The Bills can't stop the run or rush the passer. That leaves very little hope on game day. Buffalo had only one sack and allowed Tennessee Titans tailback Chris Johnson to rush for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Injuries to players such as defensive tackle Kyle Williams, linebacker Shawne Merriman and safety George Wilson have contributed to Buffalo's struggles. But the Bills need to make it a point in the offseason to add more depth and defensive playmakers.

2. New England Patriots' fourth-quarter defense: I'm not going to make a huge deal about it, but the Patriots allowed 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to the winless Indianapolis Colts. It's clear the Patriots took their foot off the pedal. But Indianapolis is 0-12 and had Dan Orlovsky at quarterback. The Colts shouldn't score 21 unanswered points against anybody. Before Sunday's game, the Colts had scored 21 points or more just once in an entire game. The Patriots allowed that many points in one period.

3. New York Jets' passing offense: There are times when the Jets' passing offense makes you scratch your head -- the quarterback misses throws or receivers will run the wrong routes and aren't on the same page. There has been a lot of that lately with the Jets, at least in the first three quarters. New York's passing game isn't waking up until the end of games, and that's saved the Jets in back-to-back weeks. Quarterback Mark Sanchez struggled against the Washington Redskins but saved his best throws for last. The Jets have little margin for error and need the passing game to be there consistently.

RISING

1. Miami Dolphins' running game: The Oakland Raiders were completely run over by Miami. The Dolphins recorded 209 rushing yards and had great performances from two tailbacks. Reggie Bush had 100 yards rushing and rookie Daniel Thomas added 73 yards on the ground. Miami's offensive line dominated in the trenches. It even led to frustration by Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who hit offensive lineman Richie Incognito in the face and was ejected.

Aaron Maybin
Howard Smith/US PresswireAaron Maybin has three sacks in the past two games for the Jets, whose signing of the linebacker after he was cut by Buffalo is paying dividends.
2. C.J. Spiller, Bills running back: Spiller gets an unexpected and late audition to be the main running back in Buffalo. Fred Jackson's leg injury has the 2010 first-round pick in the spotlight. Based on Spiller's first two starts, he is making progress. He had his best game as a pro against Tennessee, running for a career-high 83 yards and a touchdown. Spiller could have done more. But Buffalo went away from the running game too early, despite Spiller's averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

3. Aaron Maybin, Jets linebacker: "Mayhem" continues to get to the quarterback for the Jets. Maybin recorded his third sack in two games in Sunday’s victory over Washington. Maybin, signed by the Jets in late September after he was released by the Bills, has quietly been a solid pickup for New York. Maybin's sacks are making an impact — he has five in New York's victories and just one in New York's losses.

Aaron Maybin 2.0 returns to Buffalo

November, 3, 2011
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Aaron MaybinUS Presswire/Getty ImagesAfter struggling with Buffalo, Aaron Maybin has found a home with the New York Jets.
The last time Buffalo Bills fans saw Aaron Maybin at Ralph Wilson Stadium, he was a struggling first-round pick failing to find his niche in the NFL. Maybin, the No. 11 overall pick in 2009, never produced anything close to what his draft status suggested. He was cut by the Bills this summer, ending the two-year experiment.

But the New York Jets' version of Maybin is a different player this season. He is getting to the quarterback and is tied for the team lead with three sacks. Maybin also leads the Jets with three forced fumbles. He is finally living up to the "Mayhem" nickname he earned at Penn State.

A rejuvenated Maybin 2.0 returns to Buffalo on Sunday in a Jets uniform. He credits a change of scenery and New York's coaching staff for his newfound success.

"To me, it's not much of a difference other than the fact it's a different team," Maybin said in a telephone interview with the AFC East blog. "There's nothing different about me physically, from a preparation standpoint, or anything else from how I've been my entire career.

"The difference is I'm here. I'm with an organization and with a coaching staff that is putting me in the position to help the team win. Those opportunities put in my lap and faith being put in me have allowed me to go out there and be able to have a little bit of success this year."

Maybin' transformation was instantaneous in New York. He had a great preseason in Rex Ryan's scheme and recorded 2.5 sacks this summer in limited playing time.

Maybin began training camp as a long shot but initially made New York's 53-man roster. He was cut soon after to make room for several roster moves. But the Jets re-signed Maybin for good in Week 4.

Since then, Maybin has made his mark as a situational rusher in New York. He's recorded a sack in three of his four games. He had his best performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 on "Monday Night Football," when he recorded a sack and forced two fumbles.

Playing in the New York City market rarely provides less pressure. But that has been the case for Maybin. He no longer has the "draft bust" label that he carried every day in Buffalo. He's simply a role player with the Jets.

"Whatever he gives the Jets is gravy -- it's total opposite expectations," said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. "Oh, by the way, Ryan, Bart Scott, Darrelle Revis, they're not going to let you sit around and be a slacker. They're going to grab you behind the scenes and say 'Hey, this is how we do it around here.' There's a lot more leadership on that side of the ball."

Maybin acknowledges he's "pumped" for his return to Buffalo. It's his first chance to show the Bills the level of play he couldn't deliver in his first two NFL seasons.

In Buffalo, Maybin played for three head coaches in two years -- Chan Gailey, Dick Jauron and interim coach Perry Fewell. Maybin speaks very highly of Ryan, his fourth NFL head coach.

"Coach Ryan is a player's coach. He's the kind of coach that every player wants to play for and every coach wants to coach for," Maybin said. "He keeps the locker room excited every day. Sometimes it's even surprising to me how he's able to do that. He will come into a room that has no energy and the whole room will be energized within five minutes of him talking.

"He is passionate and coaches with his heart on his sleeve, just like most guys in this locker room play with their hearts on their sleeve. He's an awesome leader and a guy this whole locker room stands behind."

Not only is this a big game for Maybin, it's also a big game for the Jets.

Buffalo leads the AFC East with a 5-2 record. New York (4-3) is just one game behind Buffalo and the New England Patriots (5-2). That is surprising, considering New York's three-game losing streak last month nearly crippled its season. The Jets responded by winning two straight games to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"That was the first thing coach Ryan emphasized -- that us as a team and a locker room stay together," Maybin said. "We didn't let anybody come in and start to divide us and start to convince us that we weren't the team we thought that we were. That's what we did. We never lost sight of our focus and we never lost faith in each other. Now, we're starting to come out of it."

The same can be said about Maybin. The Jets saw something in him that Buffalo did not. Now, Maybin is repaying the Jets' confidence in him with his productive play on the field.

Thoughts on Aaron Maybin re-joining Jets

September, 28, 2011
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The New York Jets re-signed former first-round pick and draft bust Aaron Maybin, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Here are a few thoughts on the signing:
  • You knew Maybin was on the team's short list after briefly making New York's 53-man roster this summer. The linebacker was cut by the Buffalo Bills and signed with the Jets as a long shot in training camp. But an improved work ethic and solid preseason made Maybin one of the better comeback stories in the AFC East.
  • It's not a coincidence that New York re-signed Maybin after the Jets recorded just one sack in a loss to the Oakland Raiders. Maybin's specialty in college was getting to the quarterback. He had 1.5 sacks in New York's final preseason game. The Jets' defense needs to improve with pressures. Jets linebacker Bart Scott (two sacks) is the only player who has more than one sack after three games.
  • This is a good opportunity for Maybin. Teams didn't touch him three weeks after he was released. So Maybin should have something to prove. The Jets run a good defensive scheme and won't ask for too much. New York has enough stars on defense. The Jets will be happy if Maybin can occasionally get to the quarterback.

Roster odds and ends

September, 4, 2011
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The Oakland Tribune reports the Raiders have brought back linebacker Ricky Brown. He was a free agent this summer, was signed by New England and lasted just a couple of weeks there. Brown will likely resume his role as a backup. He started 13 games in five previous seasons in Oakland. Offensive lineman Seth Wand was cut to make room for Brown.

Meanwhile, the paper reported that this is Oakland’s eight-man practice squad: cornerback Sterling Moore, linebacker Jeremy Leman, fullback Manase Tonga, wide receiver Eddie McGee, offensive lineman Alex Parsons, tight end Kevin Brock, defensive end Mason Brodine and defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie.

The San Diego Chargers announced that they have signed six players to the practice squad and expects to add two more. The six who signed: linebacker Bront Bird, defensive tackle Charlie Bryant, tackle Steve Schilling, cornerback Traye Simmons, fullback Frank Summers and tight end Brad Taylor.

The Denver Post is reporting that undrafted rookie quarterback Adam Weber will be part of the Broncos’ practice squad.

The Oakland Tribune is reporting that defensive lineman Richard Seymour and receiver Chaz Schilens are practicing after missing time recently. Both are expected to play next Monday night at Denver barring setbacks.

It was reported last month that the Raiders could have interest in pass-rusher Aaron Maybin (the No. 11 overall pick in 2009) when he was cut by Buffalo. Maybin promptly signed with the Jets. He is now a former Jet. Wonder if the Raiders will look at him? I say this: why bother?

Jets cut Aaron Maybin, add four

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
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Well, that feel-good story didn't last very long.

About 24 hours after making the New York Jets' 53-man roster, draft bust and former first-round pick Aaron Maybin was released Sunday following a series of waiver-wire pickups.

The Jets claimed receiver Mardy Gilyard, quarterback Kevin O'Connell, center Colin Baxter and safety Andrew Sendejo, via ESPNNewYork's Rich Cimini. Also, here is a look at New York's 2011 practice squad.

Maybin, who's spot was never guaranteed, was among those released to make room for the claims. It's yet another roadblock for the former No. 11 overall pick. Maybin has been released by two AFC East teams (Bills, Jets) in the past month.

Still, Maybin deserves credit for making the Jets' initial 53-man roster. That shows progress compared to what we've seen the past two seasons.
Just three week ago draft bust Aaron Maybin reached a new career low. The Buffalo Bills, who went 4-12 last season, gave up on their former first-round pick and released Maybin after two unproductive seasons.

But several weeks later Maybin is on the verge of a stunning turnaround. The New York Jets signed Maybin several days after his release. Now, he's on the 53-man roster of a team that was one quarter away from the Super Bowl last season.

Maybin isn't in the clear yet. New York might still add free agents or waiver-wire pickups in the next few days, which would put his status in jeopardy. But it's obvious the Jets see something in Maybin that the Bills never did.

The question is, what is it?

Is Maybin a better fit in Rex Ryan's defense? Is Maybin finally motivated after getting released? Can a change of scenery help that much?

I was recently in Baltimore Ravens training camp and talked to receiver Lee Evans, who is Maybin's former teammate in Buffalo. Evans, an eight-year veteran and consummate professional, said he believes Maybin's maturity is finally getting to where it needs to be.

There are no guarantees in the NFL. Maybin might get cut before the Jets' Week 1 game against the Dallas Cowboys. But Maybin making New York's 53-man roster after Buffalo gave up on him a few weeks prior is a feat in itself.

New York Jets cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
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Check here for a complete list of the New York Jets' roster moves.

Surprise moves: With a surplus of defensive backs, the Jets traded Cornerback/safety Dwight Lowery to the Jaguars for a conditional draft pick. They will miss his versatility and his penchant for making clutch plays, but they felt comfortable with four safeties and six corners.

That they didn’t acquire an experienced backup offensive lineman was a surprise. They’re perilously thin on the line. They acquired rookie guard Caleb Schlauderaff from the Packers, but he’s a project. He’s nasty run blocker but extremely limited in pass protection.

Former Bills bust Aaron Maybin made the 53, but the undersized pass-rusher isn’t a lock to make the opening-day roster despite a flashy performance in the final preseason game.

No-brainers: None of the 26 cuts shocked anyone. Going into the final preseason game, 50 of the 53 spots were decided, according to Rex Ryan. The Jets are playing the continuity card this season, which makes sense in the post-lockout world. In fact, they have 19 returning starters.

What’s next: With rookie quarterback Greg McElroy (thumb surgery) out indefinitely, they need a No. 3 quarterback behind Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell. Possibilities include two former Jets -- Kellen Clemens and Kevin O’Connell, both of whom were released Saturday. They’re still looking for experienced offensive linemen, but it’s a thin market.

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