Chat with Tim Graham
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com AFC East blogger Tim Graham will drop in to chat about all the latest news from the NFL.
Graham joined ESPN.com in 2008 after covering the Miami Dolphins for the Palm Beach Post. He previously spent eight years at the Buffalo News, where he was an award-winning NHL and boxing writer. The Baldwin-Wallace College grad also has worked for the Las Vegas Sun and Boston Herald.
Send your questions for Graham now and join him on Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Tim Graham (3:00 PM)
Good afternoon from downtown Buffalo. Let's see if we can drum up some topics three months into a lockout ...
Jon (East Aurora, NY)
Afternoon Tim, Great to talk some football while none is going on. As a ESPN journalist, did you get to see the bills new unis yet?
Tim Graham (3:01 PM)
I haven't gotten a sneak peek, but when they were leaked on the Madden 12 trailer I was able to confirm those were the uniforms. They're similar to the late 1970s, early 1980s uniforms: white helmet with blue bison, blue facemask.
Matt (Augusta, GA)
Most "experts" agree that the Bills will be an improved team this year, but the same "experts" see minimal to no gain in their record. Is their schedule that tough or is this faulty logic?
Tim Graham (3:02 PM)
It's a tough schedule and a tough division. I haven't seen many guesses on the Bills' actual record, but it's easy to envision them remaining entrenched in fourth place.
Mike rochester n.y. [via mobile]
Who do you think is the favorite in the afc east this coming year to win the division im thinking its the jets?
Tim Graham (3:03 PM)
That has been my prediction for a few months, but you can't go wrong with guessing the Patriots will win it again. As long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are in place, that's the safer bet.
Shawn George/Lakeland, Florida [via mobile]
What do you think about the Buffalo Bills uniform unveiling tonight? What's the energy like there? I am soooo excited for it and pumped for the season. I think this'll be a playoff year!
Tim Graham (3:05 PM)
One response at a time: It's a pretty cool event, but local fans probably are more interested in the NHL draft tonight and possible Sabres trades; festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. in Ralph Wilson Stadium, so too early to say; I'd be excited, too, because the Bills should be fun to watch; you must have bumped your head recently.
JJ (Las Vegas, NV) [via mobile]
What do you think would have to happen now till December for the Dolphins to be a playoff team?
Tim Graham (3:07 PM)
They need consistent quarterback play, establish a run game and catch a couple breaks along the way. In my mind, the Dolphins are the X-factor in the AFC East again. They could compete for the division title, or they could battle the Bills for the basement.
Bucs and Seahawks went to the SB shortly after updating their uni's. Coincidence...... I think not.
Tim Graham (3:09 PM)
I don't recall that working for the Bills last decade. Or the Jets -- ever.
Chris (New York)
Any chance the Bills go after one of the free agent tackles? Possibly a Right Tackle to compete with Pears?
Tim Graham (3:10 PM)
The Bills re-signed Mansfield Wrotto before the lockout. So there's that.
Sabres draft party or Bills uniform unveiling?
Tim Graham (3:11 PM)
If I had to pick, I'd go with the Sabres draft party. It won't rain inside HSBC Arena.
Matt (Augusta, GA)
Does the Patriots offense become less complex due to the lockout?
Tim Graham (3:12 PM)
Probably not. The offensive personnel will return mainly intact, with question marks perhaps on the line and in the backfield. The player who needs to have the system mastered most of all is the quarterback, and I think he's OK.
Is Wes Welker human or machine?
Tim Graham (3:13 PM)
I think he's a cyborg infused with engineered DNA.
Are you on twitter?
Tim Graham (3:14 PM)
I'm all over the twitters.
Tim Graham (3:14 PM)
You can subscribe to automated links @espn_afceast
With Stevie J expected to see a lot more attention this year do you see Lee Evans having a big year or maybe David Nelson or Roscoe?
Tim Graham (3:15 PM)
Slow day in the chat. Only 20 questions or comments posted and all but a couple are Bills-related. That's fine by me, but if fans of other teams are watching, feel free to ask something.
Tim Graham (3:17 PM)
I predict Johnson will be the most prolific of the Bills receivers again in 2011. Roscoe Parrish should be back to the pesky ways he demonstrated last season before his injury. Nelson probably will return to his role as a receiver off the sideline and appear in certain sets. Don't forget Marcus Easley
Joe (East auroro)
what happens first? Bills playoffs or sabs Stanley cup
Tim Graham (3:19 PM)
Based strictly on the percentages, Bills back in the playoffs. But I do think the Sabres will compete for the Stanley Cup. Actually winning it is soooooo hard to do. You need to have so many variables break in just the right way over the span of a couple months to win the Cup.
What are the chances the Jets keep FA Brad Smith? He's such a wild card against defenses I'm hoping they can find a way to keep him. Honestly I don't think Schotty uses him enough and should let him throw every know and then. Your thoughts?
Tim Graham (3:20 PM)
23 percent. ... I know Smith adds value as a gadget quarterback, but he can't be as dangerous in the return game under the new kickoff rules. He might need to discount his services to get re-signed.
Tim, end the suspense for me. Is there 1 or 2 Buffalo Bills in your top 25 AFC East player rankings?
Tim Graham (3:21 PM)
There are multiple Bills in my top 25 AFC East players series.
Tim will Daniel Thomas be the starter & will Ricky Williams be returning to the Phins instead of Ronnie Brown?
Tim Graham (3:23 PM)
It's hard to get a read on whether Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown will be back. Williams seemed to leave that bridge in cinders when he questioned Tony Sparano's micromanaging at the end of the season. Now he's making a plea on Twitter to return. But I do think Daniel Thomas will be the featured back in 2011.
Dave (Allegany NY)
Any idea how long it will take for free agency to start after we get a CBA in place? Which AFC east team do you think will be the most active in Free Agency?
Tim Graham (3:25 PM)
There likely will be a delay of some sort. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported teams want mechanisms in place to have another shot at assessing their players on expiring contracts because they couldn't fairly do so without knowledge of the new CBA. Teams want right of first refusal on a certain number of free agents or the ability to reconsider franchise/transitional tags. ... The AFC East team I see being most active is the Jets because they could lose several.
Do you think the Jets cancelling training camp in Cortland, is a bucket of icy water on the lockout coming to an end optimism, as in they know something we do not.
Tim Graham (3:27 PM)
I don't read that sentiment into today's announcement. The college needed a commitment, and the Jets couldn't give it. Plus, the Jets have a sparkling new facility that was built for the purpose of being the training camp site -- and they haven't held one there yet. It's a peace-of-mind decision that allows the organization to focus on other things.
Would you be surprised if Sanchez had a breakout year?
Tim Graham (3:28 PM)
Not at all. With him, it comes down to maturity. The older and more experienced he gets, the more we should expect him to find consistency. We know he has the confidence and the physical tools. Now he just needs to hone his decision-making skills.
It is a slow day, because that is probably the worst question I have ever asked and it is the one you answered. Such is life. Have a good weekend Timmer. Love the chats by the way.
Tim Graham (3:29 PM)
Thanks for dropping by, Andrew.
How terrible will Aaron Maybin be this year??
Tim Graham (3:29 PM)
A tad better than useless, but not quite pedestrian.
Shea Lambert (Pilot Mountain, NC)
Did the Bills make a mistake letting Jim Leonard go? Do you prefer Jim or Whitner?
Tim Graham (3:31 PM)
In retrospect, the Bills certainly did err. With 20/20 hindsight, they should've kept Leonhard and drafted somebody else eighth overall, someone like -- oh, I don't know -- Haloti Ngata?
Matt (Augusta, GA)
Removing the quality of team, what is the toughest AFC stadium to play in?
Tim Graham (3:32 PM)
I'd have to go with Chicago because of the field.
Why do the Bills see Demetrius Bell as the answer at LT? Nobody else seems to. I don't.
Tim Graham (3:34 PM)
He's passable at left tackle. With so many other needs, he can hold down the position. And he's a bargain. If the Bills want to upgrade that position, it would cost significantly more money than the talent differential would provide. I say invest elsewhere.
Who would you choose to be your special teams ace (at their prime)? Former Bill and current CBS Contributer Steve Tasker or Former Jets/Pats/Phins and current Ast Special Teams Coach Larry Izzo? Tasker was my first jersey and I think that Izzo was my MLB when selected in my expansion draft on Madden the year the Texans came into the league.
Tim Graham (3:36 PM)
Tasker for sure. He could do more, including returns and the occasional touchdown reception. Izzo wasn't a factor on defense.
Your team is in the SB... You can have one of the AFCE all time best QB's. Do you go with Marino, Kelly, Namah or Brady?
Tim Graham (3:37 PM)
Tom Brady every time. Their winning percentages make that decision an easy one for me.
Tim Graham (3:38 PM)
A couple more and then it's time to start the weekend.
When the Jets finish 8-8 this year, do you think Rex Ryan will wait until after the super bowl to guarantee the Jets will be in the super bowl, or will he make the guarantee right after the season ends?
Tim Graham (3:39 PM)
Right after the season. No reason to wait.
What AFC East rookie do you see making the most impact this year?
Tim Graham (3:40 PM)
I'm fairly confident Marcell Dareus will be a star. That was the safest pick of the draft.
How come I haven't heard much being said about the Bills inability to cover a tight end? And then on the opposite side of the field the Bills can't get any production out of a tight end. Seems like the tight end position has been lacking for a long time in Buffalo.
Tim Graham (3:41 PM)
You must not have read the AFC East blog much last season. Those were common topics in a division that has some talented tight ends. The Bills have a black hole there. And I wrote a lot about the Dolphins' inability to cover tight ends, too. They've been atrocious at that the past two years.
Do you see much improvement coming from NE's defense realistically?
Tim Graham (3:42 PM)
Let's see what they do with their pass-rush in free agency. But I do think they'll get better based on experience alone. They fielded a young unit last season.
who do you think wins the battle of the east coast this year, the AFC East or the NFC east?
Tim Graham (3:44 PM)
I'll have to go with the AFC East. There's considerable turmoil in the NFC East every year anyway, and the Redskins and Cowboys have a lot of work to do.
I think you had Randy Starks a bit low on your list. The guy is a beast and can play anywhere on DL. His versatility is such a asset to the Fins. He may not be flashy..but produces.
Tim Graham (3:45 PM)
If he was able to at least match what he did in 2009, then he would've rated more highly. But he took a step backward last year.
What will be the starting Cornerbacks order for the Patriots?
Tim Graham (3:45 PM)
Devin McCourty for sure and probably Leigh Bodden.
Do you see Spiller taking over the job as featured RB this year?
Tim Graham (3:46 PM)
I don't. That's Fred Jackson's job to lose. C.J. Spiller will be more of a complementary back and receiving threat.
Bubba [via mobile]
Do you see a new Starting QB in maimi this year
Tim Graham (3:47 PM)
I don't. Even before the lockout I predicted they would stick with Chad Henne in the end. The longer the lockout drags on, the more likely that scenario becomes.
DJ MIRZA (NYC)
Who has the best O-line & the best D-Line in the AFC East
Tim Graham (3:48 PM)
O-line, I'll have to go with the Jets over the Patriots (barely). The Dolphins have the best D-line.
I saw a TBD post today... you d look like Dale Jr.
Tim Graham (3:49 PM)
I've heard that one before. I've also gotten Paul Kariya. I'm probably closer to Nick Nolte.
Tim Graham (3:50 PM)
All right, folks. Thanks for stopping over to kill some time. No chat next week, but I'll see you on July 8 for more shenanigans. Enjoy your weekend.