Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC East blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join Walker Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
James Walker (1:00 PM)
Hello, everyone. Earlier chat time today. Let's talk about the AFC East.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the Hardest NFC East Team that the Bills,Jets,Dolphins,& Patriots will face this season?
James Walker (1:01 PM)
Good question, Chris. They're all pretty difficult in the NFC East. I don't know if there is one weak link right now. I think the Cowboys present the most problems, based on talent. They don't always play together, but they have a lot of matchup problems for AFC East teams.
Are you a little susprised the Dolphins didnt make a coaching change heading into the bye week?
James Walker (1:04 PM)
I'm not surprised. I think everyone knows the writing is on the wall if Miami doesn't turn it around. But, honestly, what is a coaching change right now going to do? Will Miami win more games with an interim coach? That's iffy. Ownership just wants to keep things together.
Nick (Middletown, NJ) [via mobile]
How do you think the Bills match-up against the Eagles this upcoming weekend? Go Bills!
James Walker (1:06 PM)
It's an interesting matchup. Philadelphia's issues have been in the front seven, but its secondary has a lot of talented players. So I'm curious to see if the Bills go away from their passing attack to run the ball more from the spread, or continue to do what they do. It's going to be a good chess game to watch.
Randy (The Dimas)
Sorry, off subject. Who would u rather have on ur bench, Rexy or Cassel?
James Walker (1:08 PM)
I take it this is a fantasy question. Both are shaky, but I would probably take Rex Grossman.
With a lot more parity in the league this year, specifically the AFC east, do you think the winner of the division can go 10-6 or even 9-7 and still win??
James Walker (1:09 PM)
Nope. I think it's going to take at least 11 games to win the AFC East. Regardless of what happens with the Bills and Jets, I think New England is good for 11 wins, barring significant injuries. Buffalo and NY have to keep pace.
Hey James, great job so far on the blog. The Jets schedule after this week is fairly soft the rest of the way. I think the Jets could lose this week and still get to 11 wins. I know it would not be ideal and the Jets have some holes but it isn't the end of the world.
James Walker (1:11 PM)
I agree, this is the hard part of NY's schedule. But I never liked projecting too far down the road and assuming wins because it rarely works out that way. Before the season, did anyone pick New England's game against Buffalo to be a loss? Most thought it was an automatic win for the Patriots.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
Hi so are you the new AFC east blogger, or just filling in or doing both East and North? Im confused.
James Walker (1:13 PM)
I'm here to stay, Brad. I've been AFC East full-time since Week 2 of the regular season. I moved the Miami. I'm not going anywhere.
Was Bills-Bengals game fixed? Andy Dalton's pathetic dive being ruled a first down, the obvious Stevie catch.....it all adds up.
James Walker (1:15 PM)
There are bad calls every week in the NFL. It's a hard game to officiate with a lot of moving parts. I usually take the stance that it usually evens out over 16 games. The Bills got a couple calls against New England in Week 3. A few things didn't go their way last week. You have to play through them.
zak (at school)
do you think the patriots are serious contender
James Walker (1:16 PM)
Yes, Zak. The Patriots are a serious contender and will remain that way unless QB Tom Brady gets injured. Now, pay attention to your teacher/professor.
What do you think of Merriman's work so far this season? Just one "sack," but some say he's been pretty much held all game every game so far.
James Walker (1:18 PM)
I thought Merriman has played better each week. At this stage, that's what Buffalo needs. He got his first sack of the season against Cincinnati and nearly got to Tom Brady in Week 3. The Bills don't need the double-digit sack Merriman. But if he gets a few here and there, he's doing his job.
Hey James, Are you scratching your head as much as most Dolphins fans are about what this team is trying to do.
James Walker (1:21 PM)
There seems to be a lack of identity and direction. Are they an offensive team or a defensive team? Why can't they run the ball unless Daniel Thomas, a rookie, is healthy? They seem to make fairly significant roster transactions every week. They have no answers of why they lose so much at home. A lot needs to be cleaned up during this bye week.
It's still early in the season, but do you think the Bills can make the playoffs with a wildcard spot at 10-6?
James Walker (1:22 PM)
Yes, Buffalo has a chance to make a run. Any 3-1 team should feel that way. I think these two weeks will tell us a lot about the Bills. Can they beat a desperate, but talented, Eagles team at home and can they go on the road and beat the Giants?
Will anybody pay enough attention to what happens in Buffalo for Eric Wood to get to the probowl this year? Anyone watching see him abusing nosetackles on every play.
James Walker (1:24 PM)
Eric Wood is a good player. It's not easy playing center out of a spread the entire game, either. But Buffalo has to win this year for fans and media to vote its players into the Pro Bowl. That's an important part of it.
Is Ridley the real deal? What kind of season, statistically speaking do you see him producing?
James Walker (1:27 PM)
I like Ridley. He seems to be the solid, but not flashy, type of player New England likes. I don't think he's going to consistently put up huge numbers each week. Because the Patriots, like their passing game, will probably go with the hot hand on the ground week-to-week. Sometimes that will be Ridley, like last week. Other times I will be Ben-Jarvis or Danny Woodhead.
Brandon (New Windsor, NY)
If the bills go at least 4-2 in the division, what do you say their chances of playoffs are?
James Walker (1:29 PM)
Winning in the division is the easiest way to get to the playoffs. A 4-2 record would be solid. They would have to probably sweep Miami to do it, and hope for a split with the Patriots and the Jets.
How was that Sunday night reminder of AFC North football?
James Walker (1:31 PM)
It was an impressive showing by Baltimore. But, Les, you know I'm the last person surprised by it. I predicted Baltimore to be the class of the AFC North in August and got killed for it, mostly by Steelers fans. People in the AFC North are starting to see it now. The Ravens are good in a lot of areas.
Can Sanchez put enough points on the board this week to stay with the Pats?
James Walker (1:33 PM)
Don't put it all on Mark Sanchez, Ted. That offensive line deserves a lot of blame for not blocking in the running and passing game. I don't think the Jets are capable of winning a shootout with Tom Brady. So the key will be New York's defense slowing down the Pats offense.
since it almost inevitable, who are some coaching options for miami next year? also, do you think the buck stops there? will ireland be packing his things as well?
James Walker (1:36 PM)
Assuming Miami doesn't win a lot of games and turns things around, the Dolphins coaching search will be interesting. GM Jeff Ireland is the key, believe it or not. If he stays, that means the next coach won't get complete control in Miami. Ireland is still in charge, and that will impact what type of coach Miami can get. Big names like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are not coming out of retirement to take orders from Ireland. But if the Dolphins decide to part ways with the coach and GM, the job will be more attractive to top head coaches.
Neal Newmark (Milford PA)
If the jets somehow go into New England and win on where nobody has beaten the pats in a LONG TIME, you think it would be the biggest upset of the year hands down?
James Walker (1:38 PM)
The Jets just beat the Patriots in New England in the playoffs. These are rivals. It won't be a huge upset.
Do you think Ridley is the most talented of the 3 NE backs? He looks quicker than BJGE and just as strong, and clearly stronger than Woodhead.
James Walker (1:40 PM)
More talented? I don't know. They all bring something different to the table. That's why New England's coaching staff likes using all three. Certain backs will have success against certain teams. It's all about versatility and the ability to adapt to the opponent and flow of the game.
Jude Brandon (Mad City)
Is miami a serious contender for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes?
James Walker (1:41 PM)
It's a long season. But, yes, they are right in it. Miami can't win at home and struggle on the road this year. So the Dolphins should have a hard time winning a lot of games.
You seem to give The Jets lots of love, do you still believe they are a good football team? As far as I am concerned, they are at the Bottom with Miami.
James Walker (1:43 PM)
The Jets are not as bad as Miami, Roberto. New York hasn't played well the past two weeks. But I feel a lot more confident in the Jets turning things around this year than Miami.
I'm just a little confused, so maybe you can help me out...Are the Jets still considered a better team than the Bills? They look really bad on offense, and the D is not as good as advertised. Sanchez is taking steps back, and their run game is pathetic. It just seems like people are still riding the Rex Ryan band wagon just because he says we should.
James Walker (1:45 PM)
I voted the Bills a bit ahead of the Jets in this week's Power Rankings. But that's where they stand after Week 4. Buffalo is playing better overall right now. It's always subject to change.
steve ambrose (asheville nc)
Can you explain Stephen Ross' business plan? It seems that by saving money on FA signings, the team is losing close games. The fan attendance and merchandise sales plummets. The value of the team goes down farther.
James Walker (1:48 PM)
What a lot of people don't realize is this is one of the final years under the new CBA that there's no mandatory spending. I think that may have come into play in Miami. Fans do not pack that stadium. So the revenue isn't as good as other teams.
Off week for D.Nelson! Sign of things to come or just that an off week? Thanks
James Walker (1:50 PM)
Fantasy-wise, I think Nelson is worth keeping. The Bills are going to throw a lot all year and Nelson will get plenty of opportunities. Buffalo's offense just had an off game last week.
James: You think D.Thomas will be healed up by week 6? Go back to 2nd RB behind Bush now? Thanks
James Walker (1:52 PM)
It's tough to say. Muscle injuries are always tough for running backs. They come and go and often aren't fully healed. Thomas didn't play against the Chargers and two weeks is a good time to rest. So I would say there's a good chance.
Jack (Daytona Beach, FL)
In my opinion, the Dolphins demise is down to a lack of depth on EVERY position, except maybe WR; could this be blamed solely on Ireland or just a lack of execution by coaches and players?
James Walker (1:54 PM)
Ireland doesn't have anything to do with preparation and execution. Most weeks the Dolphins struggle in those areas. Coaching deserves blame, as well as Ireland and the players.
How many more years do you think Brady plays for the Pats?
James Walker (1:55 PM)
Tom Brady says he wants to play until he's 40. That seems to be his goal. If he's playing at this high a level, he may get there.
The real question is, does 9-7 get a wild card in the AFC this year?
James Walker (1:56 PM)
I think it takes 10 wins in the AFC.
Will Maclin and Jackson expose Buffalo's lack of speed in the secondary?
James Walker (1:59 PM)
I expect Buffalo to do a lot to take away the deep ball. Philly thrives on that but doesn't do a lot of dinking and dunking down the field. If Buffalo is smart, the team will force the Eagles to try to make long drives instead of the big plays.
James Walker (2:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks for your time this week. Remember to check out the AFC East blog and AFC East Twitter for constant updates.