NFL Nation: Chan Gailey

Lions Camp Report: Day 7

August, 4, 2014
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Detroit Lions training camp:
  • The Lions seem to be reaching a point where they just want to face anybody else. Monday morning’s practice appeared particularly physical and while there were no fights and only one real injury concern -- Darius Slay’s neck will be fine -- it led to some big collisions. Perhaps the biggest one came from running back George Winn, who flattened rookie safety Jerome Couplin in the open field. It was the second straight practice where Winn leveled a defensive player on a run.

“You can see he’s a physical guy as well,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what he does.”

Winn was a player the Lions brought in just before training camp.
  • The play of the day came from, who else, Calvin Johnson. Returning to practice after sitting out Saturday’s scrimmage, Johnson leaped over a defensive player while trying to catch a pass from Matthew Stafford. Johnson easily came down with the ball, gained his footing for a second and went on from there. This reminded me of something his college coach, Chan Gailey, said to me last year. By the second season, he almost took for granted those plays by Johnson because they were almost a daily practice occurrence. And you wonder why Johnson is considered a nightmare for opposing defensive backs to cover.
  • The kicking competition continues to tighten. While Nate Freese continues to appear to have a slight hold on the job, he might not for much longer. Freese missed two field goals (3 of 5 overall) Monday morning while Giorgio Tavecchio made all five of his. While Freese has struggled since camp opened, Tavecchio has only missed one field goal by my count -- on the first day of practice. Caldwell said after practice he’ll use data to make the kicking decision, and Tavecchio is piling some strong data right now to win the gig.
  • Overall, this was a very strong day for the defense, especially during the running period. The running backs had very few holes to run through – especially so once the starters took a breather. It was similar during some passing plays, with either Stafford having to take off on the run or, in one case, C.J. Mosley busting through the line to touch-sack backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky.
  • When Slay went out, the Lions kind of offered up a little bit of the depth chart at cornerback – one of the tightest competitions out there. With Slay out, the Lions went to Cassius Vaughn on the outside next. So it would seem like the cornerback tiers right now are Slay and Rashean Mathis as starters, Bill Bentley and Vaughn as the top reserves and then Jonte Green, Nevin Lawson and Chris Greenwood behind them. It may be in that order, although Lawson will end up with a roster spot since he also plays nickel. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out Saturday in the preseason opener.
  • One noticeable thing during practices -- and I'll have a little more on this either tonight or Tuesday morning -- but the Lions haven't been stretching and warming up in a designated period during camp. That, apparently, is by design as Caldwell is trusting his players to take care of themselves on their own. So far, with only two minor injury scares, it appears to be working.

The Lions are back at practice Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. with an open practice.

IRVING, Texas -- Wade Phillips has the second-best winning percentage of any coach in Dallas Cowboys' history. Better than Tom Landry's. I think Phillips might know that.

On Thursday, Phillips tweeted this:



And later followed up with this addendum:



Like most things with Phillips, he lacked context.

When Phillips took over in 2007 as head coach, he inherited a team from Bill Parcells that was ready to win. QB Tony Romo was going into his first year as a full-time starter. The defense had DE DeMarcus Ware at his best. WR Terrell Owens was putting up big numbers.

The Cowboys went 13-3 and had the best record in the NFC. Phillips was the perfect antidote to Parcells and the players responded. Well, they did to a point. The Cowboys were not the same after beating the Green Bay Packers to move to 11-1 and effectively clinch home-field advantage.

They got lucky to beat the Detroit Lions the following week. They lost two of their last three games, but they were in shutdown mode against the Washington Redskins with nothing to gain from a win.

Other than momentum they had lost.

The Cowboys lost to the New York Giants in the divisional round at Texas Stadium, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.

That's basically when the Romo narrative started. Maybe you heard that Romo went to Cabo during the wild-card weekend. Did it affect the outcome of the Giants' game? Of course not, but the perception machine was rolling, and has been rolling ever since.

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You can track most of the Cowboys' woes to that lost opportunity. If they simply beat the Giants and make the NFC Championship Game, things would be different. Could they have beaten the Packers for a second time at Texas Stadium? It's the best what-if of the Romo era.

In 2008, the Cowboys acted as if they were predestined to not only make the playoffs but win the Super Bowl. Go back and watch the "Hard Knocks" episodes, and you see a team full of itself. They finished 9-7, missed the playoffs and were a mess late in the season.

Phillips could not pull it all together and looked inept as he attempted to deal with the fallout from the Adam "Pacman" Jones' incident. Phillips earned a reprieve in 2009 when Dallas posted an 11-5 record, won the NFC East title, and recorded a playoff win -- but that was the high point.

The Cowboys went 1-7 to start the 2010 season, including an embarrassing home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and a gutless loss to the Packers (45-7) the following week. After that game, Jerry Jones made the switch to Garrett, and the Cowboys are 29-27 since and have not made the playoffs.

Garrett did not inherit a team ready to win the way Phillips did in 2007. By the time Garrett took over, the Cowboys were growing old on the offensive line, and there were too many people (especially those in offices at Valley Ranch) who believed they had the best talent in the league.

The head coach of the Cowboys has tremendous sway with Jones. The Cowboys did not take Randy Moss in 1998 at least in part because then-coach Chan Gailey didn't want Moss.

On that premise, the 2008 draft -- with Dallas' two first-round picks -- was a mess because the Cowboys didn't even attempt to re-sign those first-rounders (Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins) when their contracts expired. The 2009 draft was a colossal failure in part because Jones was convinced that it could be a "special-teams draft," which is as ludicrous as the "draft for backups" the team had when Barry Switzer was the coach in 1995.

This is not in defense of Garrett. He has made plenty of mistakes on the field and in the draft.

Phillips has had a tremendous career in the NFL that has spanned decades. He is a terrific coordinator, but is he in the same conversation as guys like Dick LeBeau, or even Monte Kiffin? I'm not sure a Phillips defense scared offenses the way LeBeau's defenses in Pittsburgh and Kiffin's defenses in Tampa Bay did. Phillips was a good head coach but could not get his teams in Denver, Buffalo or Dallas past a certain point.

Phillips knows his resume inside and out. He can cite team stats and all the Hall of Famers he has coached.

He can claim his tweet was more about the number of games he and Garrett have coached, but it looked more like a passive-aggressive shot at the guy who replaced him, and a way for him to remind everybody of his record.

By the way, his winning percentage is .607. Landry had a .605 winning percentage.
A look at what to expect as the Buffalo Bills begin the Doug Marrone era:

[+] EnlargeDoug Marrone
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsQuestions at quarterback could make for a rocky first season in Buffalo for Doug Marrone.
Biggest change to expect: The most significant changes Marrone brings from Syracuse in replacing the fired Chan Gailey are his schemes. Buffalo is a team in major transition in 2013. Marrone is installing a new defense, a new offense and will start a new quarterback. Marrone comes to Buffalo with an offensive pedigree. He runs an up-tempo, K-Gun style that puts a lot of pressure on the defense. However, with questions at quarterback surrounding Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel, it may not be in Marrone's best interest to speed the game up for four quarters. There will be times when Marrone must adjust and slow the game down in order to hand the ball to his best offensive player: tailback C.J. Spiller. Gailey made the mistake of ignoring Spiller in the past. Marrone would be wise not to make the same error. Defensively, Marrone handed the group over to former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Buffalo will be very aggressive and blitz-heavy, which is needed after last year's meager performance under former defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt.

What success would look like: This is a grace-period year for Marrone. Expectations are low in Buffalo, and most view the Bills as a third-place team in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots and the up-and-coming Miami Dolphins. Buffalo had playoff aspirations last year after making big-money acquisitions such as Mario Williams. But that quickly blew up in the Bills’ face during a disappointing 6-10 season. Buffalo has the NFL's longest non-playoff streak and has not made the postseason since 1999. If Marrone could win seven or eight games in Year 1, that would be considered a success.

AFC East struggles: One of the biggest issues with Buffalo’s previous regime was the inability to win in the division. The Bills were 4-14 against AFC East competition in the past three seasons under Gailey. Marrone must change that trend for Buffalo to turn things around. Marrone and the Bills can make a statement right away with a home game in Week 1 against AFC East rival New England.

More or fewer wins? The Bills have good talent in certain areas. As long as the quarterback play isn't a complete abomination, Buffalo can win more than six games in 2013. As I mentioned earlier, the Bills on paper look like a seven- or eight-win team. But much of their success will come down to the consistency of Kolb or Manuel at quarterback. They must play well and manage the game on a weekly basis in order for the Bills to be consistent.
Can the Buffalo Bills challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC East? Not this year, according to ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton.

Clayton addressed Buffalo's present and future in his latest mailbag Tuesday when asked if the Bills can make the postseason by winning 9-10 games.

"That’s too much to ask," Clayton responded. "The quarterback position is in transition. The receivers are too raw. The defense is switching back to a 3-4. That could lead to a tough start. As the season goes on, EJ Manuel might take over at quarterback. As long as the team can finish the season respectably, the Bills could start building toward 2014."

Buffalo has talent in several areas, and in some ways the team underachieved during its 6-10 season in 2012. The 2013 Bills have a chance to be a threat if they find a way to put it all together and get quality quarterback play from Manuel or veteran Kevin Kolb.

Improvement in coaching also will have a lot to do with Buffalo's success. Former Bills head coach Chan Gailey and former defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt didn’t do a good job of managing Buffalo’s talent. It’s too early to tell if rookie head coach Doug Marrone will be noticeably better in that area.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How does each AFC East team look at running back, and what still needs to be done?

Buffalo Bills: The Bills have one of the NFL’s strongest duos in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. They complement each other very well. Spiller is a dynamic, home-run hitter, while Jackson runs hard between the tackles. Both players are also versatile enough to catch out of the backfield. Former Bills head coach Chan Gailey could never figure out how to effectively use both players. Spiller was mostly underused on Gailey’s watch until the second half of last season. New head coach Doug Marrone is expected to learn from Gailey’s mistakes. Spiller as the primary ball-carrier, with Jackson as the backup, would make a dangerous combination.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have an intriguing situation at running back. After 2012 starter Reggie Bush left Miami for the Detroit Lions in free agency, the Dolphins are left with three relative unknowns at tailback. Second-year player Lamar Miller is the projected starter. He showed tremendous flashes during his rookie season in 2012 and led Miami with 4.9 yards per carry. Miller fits Miami’s West Coast offense well, but needs to do a better job in pass protection as an every-down back. Backup Daniel Thomas never lived up to his high draft status, but isn’t bad as a second or third option. Thomas will compete with 2013 fifth-round pick Mike Gillislee, whom many think is a nice sleeper pickup for the Dolphins. This is an unknown group that could end up better than advertised.

New England Patriots: The Patriots are well-stocked at running back. It starts with starter Stevan Ridley, who led the Patriots with a career-high 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. Ridley fit in well with New England’s up-tempo, spread offense. Backup Shane Vereen is expected to fill the third-down role vacated by Danny Woodhead, who signed with the San Diego Chargers in free agency. New England also added burly tailback LeGarrette Blount, who can add toughness and help in short-yardage situations. Leon Washington is the fourth running back on the team, but is primarily a kick returner. The running game could be even more important in 2013 now that New England had a major makeover at wide receiver and injury concerns with tight ends Rob Gronkowski (arm, back) and Aaron Hernandez.

New York Jets: The Jets are in a tough spot at running back. Free-agent signee Mike Goodson was arrested last week and faces drug and weapons charges. Goodson was expected to compete for the starting job in New York, but now his future with the Jets is uncertain. Jets first-year general manager John Idzik is trying to change the culture in New York and could make an example of Goodson for poor off-the-field behavior. That would leave New York with a not-so-impressive trio that includes projected starter Chris Ivory, and backups Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight. This is not a trio who will scare an NFL defense. The Jets are in the middle of a long rebuild, and that includes not having many weapons on offense.

There are two names that immediately come to mind when I think of Buddy Nix's tenure as Buffalo Bills general manager: Mario Williams and EJ Manuel.

Williams, who signed a $100 million contract in 2012, was by far Nix’s biggest free-agent signing. Manuel, a first-round pick in April's draft, is Nix’s most important draft pick. Until the fates of these two players are determined in Buffalo, it's difficult to fully gauge Nix’s impact in Buffalo.

Nix is stepping down as general manager Monday after three years with the Bills. It is a move that’s been in the works for months as Nix, 73, transitions to a less demanding phase of his career.

The tangible evidence so far doesn't look good for Nix. It's easy to point to Buffalo's 16-32 record during his three-year tenure. You can also look at Nix's failed hire of former Bills head coach Chan Gailey. Those are two clear blemishes on Nix's record in Buffalo.

Manuel and Williams could also be huge blemishes that would make Nix's run as GM in Buffalo a complete disaster. But if Manuel turns out to be a franchise quarterback who turns the Bills into a perennial playoff contender, and Williams plays up to his capabilities for the duration of his contract, Nix’s era in Buffalo will be viewed through a much brighter lens.

Until then, Nix’s three-year legacy with the Bills is still to be determined.

Bills venture into the unknown

January, 6, 2013
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The Buffalo Bills interviewed high-profile coaching candidates Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike McCoy and Chip Kelly. But they settled on a lesser-known commodity Sunday in former University of Syracuse coach Doug Marrone.

Is Marrone the right choice for Buffalo? Expect plenty of early skepticism.

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Marrone would not have been my first pick from the batch we just mentioned. The Bills haven't been to the playoffs since 1999, the NFL's longest drought. Bills fans are a tortured bunch who need a big name to re-energize the fan base.

The Bills failed to make a splash with Marrone, who was only 25-25 at Syracuse. Based on comments I received this past week, nabbing Kelly would have been more appealing to Bills fans if they wanted a college coach.

However, a low-profile hire doesn't always mean it's a bad hire. It simply means the Bills better be right in choosing a coach who wasn't at the top of any NFL team's wish list. Marrone’s .500 record in college and Buffalo’s poor track record with head coaches makes it a risky choice. The Bills will either look smarter than everyone else or dumber than everyone else in two or three years based on Marrone's performance.

You also knew what Smith and Whisenhunt brought to the table. Both coaches led their former teams to the Super Bowl and multiple playoff appearances. This is what Buffalo is striving for as an organization, and there was comfort in taking the safe pick.

But Buffalo took the retread route twice in the past seven years with Dick Jauron and Chan Gailey. Both choices were disasters. So the Bills deserve some credit for trying something different.

The Bills have a 7-10-year stadium lease, a new president in Russ Brandon and Marrone as their next head coach. This is truly a new beginning in Buffalo. Marrone will get the next several years to prove he is the right choice for the Bills.

Buffalo’s next step is to hire the best coordinators and assistant coaches available. Marrone has no head-coaching experience in the NFL, and that transition will go smoother with veteran assistants.

The Bills have quality talent on both sides of the football. Buffalo tailback C.J. Spiller is one of the more dynamic players in the NFL and must be used properly in 2013. Buffalo’s next offensive coordinator must make Spiller the focal point.

The Bills’ defense underachieved this past season but has talented players such as Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Stephon Gilmore. Buffalo needs a defensive coordinator who can maximize its talent.
The Buffalo Bills are interested in former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and the feeling is mutual. Both sides reportedly will meet this weekend, as Smith will become the most accomplished NFL coach on Buffalo's interview list so far.

Smith
Whether Smith is at the top of Buffalo's wish list remains to be seen. But the idea of Buffalo hiring Smith may open up old wounds with Bills fans left by previous head coaches Chan Gailey and Dick Jauron.

Buffalo's last two coaches were NFL "retreads," which are coaches who were fired by one NFL team but given a second chance in Buffalo. Gailey's failed stint with the Dallas Cowboys and Jauron's failed stint with Chicago were warning signs that neither were good head coaches. The Bills took that chance anyway and ruined the past seven seasons for the franchise.

Smith now has that infamous "retread" label after getting fired this week by Chicago. But if you look deeper at the numbers, Smith is as intriguing a candidate as he is polarizing.

There are plenty of reasons to believe in Smith, such as his 81-63 record, 6-3 mark in the playoffs and one Super Bowl appearance. There also are reasons not to believe in Smith, such as his six non-playoff seasons in nine years and his consistently horrendous offenses in Chicago.

How polarizing was Smith in Chicago? Look no further than the fact that he was recently fired after a 10-6 season. That rarely happens. But the spectrum of opinions was so wide with Smith that the Bears decided it was best to start over.

There are good NFL retreads and bad NFL retreads. The Bills had a pair of misses recently with Gailey and Jauron. But if Buffalo goes the same retread route this year with a coach like Smith or former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, the Bills better get this call correct.
It was another awful season overall for the AFC East. For the second year in a row, the New England Patriots (12-4) were the only division team to finish with a winning record.

That reflected in ESPN.com's final Power Rankings. Here is how things turned out for the AFC East:
There continues to be a large gap between the Patriots and everyone else. New England added further confirmation of that with a 28-0 victory over Miami to end the regular season. The Dolphins are probably the closest team to catching the Patriots -- and yet Miami still has a long way to go.

The Bills and Jets were two major disappointments. Changes have already started, with Buffalo firing head coach Chan Gailey and New York firing general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Both teams have a lot of work to do in the offseason.
The Buffalo Bills will be searching for their third head coach in five seasons. The Bills fired embattled head coach Chan Gailey on Monday after posting a 16-32 record. Their search for a replacement will begin immediately.

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That brings us to our latest poll question: How attractive is Buffalo’s head-coaching job? This will be a major factor in the kind of candidate the Bills can land.

The Bills have the NFL’s longest playoff drought at 13 years. A-list candidates would have to be convinced that the right pieces are in place to join the Bills.

Buffalo’s biggest issue is not having a quality quarterback on the roster. Buffalo is expected to part ways with the erratic Ryan Fitzpatrick before he is due a $3 million roster bonus in March. That means the Bills will be searching for a replacement via the draft or free agency. Other openings like Chicago and San Diego have quality quarterbacks already in place, which makes their openings more attractive.

The Bills have a few things going for them. Tailback C.J. Spiller is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL, and there are other talented players on the roster such as receiver Steve Johnson and defensive end Mario Williams.

So is Buffalo's opening highly attractive, average or not attractive at all?

Using our SportsNation poll, cast your vote on the Bills' job. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The rebuilding Buffalo Bills will not promote their new head coach from within.

Former head coach Chan Gailey announced in his final press conference Monday that the Bills also fired his entire coaching staff. That means defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, among others, will not return to Buffalo in 2013.

The Bills are rightfully making a complete change to the coaching staff. They had no strong internal candidate to be considered for the head-coaching job, and firing everyone makes it easier for the next head coach in Buffalo to bring in their own people.

Buffalo Bills had to fire Chan Gailey

December, 31, 2012
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[+] EnlargeChan Gailey
AP Photo/Steven SenneThe Buffalo Bills went 16-32 under coach Chan Gailey.
There was no way to defend the performance of Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey the past three seasons. Gailey recently said progress was being made, but he had no tangible evidence to prove it.

That likely was the conversation Gailey had with Bills owner Ralph Wilson on Monday. Gailey could not provide enough reasons to be retained after a 16-32 record, and Wilson had no choice but to fire his head coach.

Gailey did too many things wrong in Buffalo. His game management was lacking, Buffalo's defenses were horrendous the past three years, and Gailey's quarterback choice of Ryan Fitzpatrick was a major mistake. Gailey also mismanaged dynamic tailback C.J. Spiller by not giving him enough carries until it was too late.

Buffalo had to part ways with Gailey in order to move forward.

The next moves for the Bills are to find the right head coach and the right quarterback. Buffalo hasn't been to the playoffs since 1999, which is the NFL's longest playoff drought. That won't change until the Bills get these two positions right.

Buffalo has some good things going for the team. The Bills have a new stadium lease, a high draft pick, and supporting talent on their roster such as Spiller, 1,000-yard receiver Steve Johnson and $100 million defensive end Mario Williams (10.5 sacks).

Bills fire coach Chan Gailey

December, 31, 2012
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The Buffalo Bills fired head coach Chan Gailey on Monday after three disappointing seasons.

Gailey was 16-32 as Buffalo's head coach. Gailey was often maligned for having poor defenses, questionable game management and erratic quarterback play during his tenure. His handling of dynamic tailback C.J. Spiller also was a point of contention in Buffalo.

The Bills beat the New York Jets 28-9 in Sunday’s regular-season finale to cap back-to-back 6-10 seasons under Gailey. The Bills will be looking for their third head coach in the past five seasons.

Four immediate offseason storylines

December, 29, 2012
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There is still one game left to play in the regular season. But as soon as the games end Sunday, the offseason begins and things could move fast and furious for the Buffalo Bills (5-10), Miami Dolphins (7-8) and New York Jets (6-9).

While the New England Patriots prepare for the playoffs next week, the rest of the AFC East will begin working on what went wrong. Here are four immediate stories to monitor:

1. Chan Gailey Watch

The Buffalo Bills have a big decision to make with embattled head coach Chan Gailey. On Sunday, Gailey will complete his third consecutive double-digit loss season and is 15-32 overall. There is not much of a case to retain Gailey for a fourth year. But the Bills can be unpredictable. For example, they retained their previous head coach, Dick Jauron, in a similar spot after three consecutive losing seasons.

If the Bills fire Gailey, they must move fast. This can't be a decision where the Bills take several weeks to decide, when they could better spend that time interviewing top coaching candidates. We should know Buffalo's decision to fire or keep Gailey no more than a week or two after the season.

2. Jets' GM situation

General manager Mike Tannenbaum did an awful job keeping New York's old and expensive roster together for too long. He's also responsible for signing former starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a $58.25 million extension in March. Both of these things could cost Tannenbaum his job.

But Tannenbaum has a lot of pull within the organization and is respected. He might stick around in an advisory role while someone else gets the final call on roster decisions. New York will be hard pressed to find a top GM candidate if Tannenbaum is still in the building. But the Jets will explore various options after the season.

3. Bye, bye Tebow

This decision should be made already. The New York Jets are expected to release or trade popular backup quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets need to do it sooner rather than later.

Tebow reportedly will land with his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars, where he will help sell tickets and perhaps compete for a starting role. Tebow never got that same opportunity in New York, and things got progressively worse as the season went on. It is time for both sides to part ways.

4. Who stays and who goes in Miami?

The Miami Dolphins have a lot of cap room, but also a lot of in-house free agents. General manager Jeff Ireland must decide which players he wants to keep and which Dolphins will hit the market.

Miami's lengthy and expensive free-agent list includes starting left tackle Jake Long, No. 1 receiver Brian Hartline, leading rusher Reggie Bush, No. 1 cornerback Sean Smith and starting defensive tackle Randy Starks. All of these players will be expensive, and the Dolphins cannot afford to bring back everyone. Picking the right players to re-sign will be important to Miami's long-term future.

Seven-step drop: Did Tim Tebow quit?

December, 24, 2012
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Here are seven notes and observations about Week 16 in the AFC East:
    [+] EnlargeTim Tebow
    Debby Wong/USA TODAY SportsIs quarterback Tim Tebow simply fed up with his situation this season with the Jets?

  • Did the New York Jets quit on Tim Tebow or did Tebow quit on the Jets? I’ve been asking myself this question since ESPNNewYork’s report that Tebow asked out of the Wildcat package this week. A case can be made for both sides. It was an uncharacteristic move for Tebow, who has been a very good solider for the Jets all season. The former first-round pick and Heisman Trophy winner accepted his role as the Wildcat quarterback up until Sunday. Tebow played special teams as a punt protector and never complained. But it doesn’t seem right for any player to ask out of a package he’s played in all season. On the flip side, the Jets deceived Tebow by making him feel like he was the No. 2 quarterback. It turns out the Jets thought third-stringer Greg McElroy was a better option when starter Mark Sanchez was benched. So did Tebow quit on the Jets? Maybe both sides quit on each other.
  • While we are on the subject of Tebow, should the Jets honor his request to be released? ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports Tebow will be released this offseason so he can sign with the hometown Jacksonville Jaguars. But do the Jets owe Tebow his release at the expense of potential compensation? What if New York can get a late-round pick for Tebow from Jacksonville or another team? Should the Jets throw that away to honor Tebow’s wishes? Yes, the Jets mishandled Tebow in embarrassing fashion this year. But I’m not sure New York “owes” Tebow when the team needs all the help and draft picks it can get.
  • Is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady experiencing a slump? Brady didn’t look like his usually dominant self in a 23-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots started slow and Brady finished with 267 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had multi-interception games in back-to-back weeks for the first time all season. The Patriots need the best version of Brady in the playoffs to make a Super Bowl run.
  • The Miami Dolphins have to feel good heading into the final week of the regular season. Sure, they were eliminated from playoff contention and will be underdogs on the road against New England. But Miami is 7-8 and is in a great position to get better with plenty of draft picks and cap space. The key will be making the right decision with the immense resources the Dolphins have. Figuring out which in-house free agents to keep will be crucial.
  • Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has 96 rushing yards on 14 carries the past two games. The Dolphins added a new wrinkle in their playbook to use Tannehill on read-option plays, which is something that’s also worked for fellow rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Tannehill is a sneaky good athlete who runs well. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry the past two weeks. Tannehill played receiver in college for two years and Miami is wisely putting those running skills to use.
  • There are a lot of things going against retaining Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey. But something Bills leadership will be looking at closely after the season is Gailey’s struggles within the AFC East. Gailey is 3-14 against division rivals in three seasons as head coach. If you can’t win in the division, you can’t make the playoffs. The Bills are 1-4 this year against the AFC East and still have one division game left Sunday against the Jets.
  • Finally, there is a silver lining for the Bills losing games down the stretch. Buffalo currently holds the No. 6 overall pick with one game remaining. This is a good spot to land a tremendous player at the top of the first round. Buffalo’s two biggest needs are quarterback and linebacker, and most of the top prospects are in play.

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