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 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Good afternoon, AFC East fans. Let's discuss the division.
Matt Moore is doomed either way. What's the point, if we're gonna suck anyway, of NOT starting Tannehill now? Let him face adversity. I'm tired of "rebuilding" every, single year.
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Because it's the job of the coaching staff to play the players who give the team the best chance to win. Despite what fans and media say, every team thinks it can compete for the playoffs at the start of the season. Ryan Tannehill doesn't give Miami the best chance to do that this year. Maybe in Year 2 or Year 3. Moore or Garrard is the safe choice while Tannehill learns.
Nate (Sutton, Ma)
The dolphins have a problem on their hands, In the end may the best quarterback win, but my other question is who are they going to throw the ball to. there not very deep at wide receiver and i feel this is a major issue going forward if they even want to compete
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Yes, Nate. That is certainly the flip side of it. I pointed it out several times in the AFC East blog. Miami has one of the worst group of WRs in the NFL. Sometimes a quarterback can raise the level of their WRs. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning do it all the time. It's doesn't matter who they play with. But you really have to be an elite quarterback to make average receivers look great. Moore and Garrard are not elite quarterbacks.
Hey James, based strictly on what (little) we know now, how would you rank the east in terms of 1) Defense, 2) Offense, 3) Overall?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Dan, I ranked the defenses in the blog on Monday. Check it out. Offenses are yet to come. I probably won't make overall predictions for the year until after the preseason.
John Boy (FL)
For all of the bad press Miami has received about their receivers, many people have overlooked Reggie's receiving skills and those of Clay, Thomas, and Miller. Any thoughts?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Miami has good receivers coming out the backfield. The three you mentioned all have good hands and are threats. However, you can't rely on swing passes to move the chains and be the main part of your offense. It's too easy to defend against. Miami will have to stretch the field first with its WRs and TEs before the team can check down to its RBs in the passing game.
As it stands right now, do you think the Buffalo Bills' receiving corps is talented enough to be competitive and score enough points this season? Specifically, do you think TJ Graham is enough of a vertical threat upgrade?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
It would be nice if Buffalo found a proven No. 2 receiver to go with Steve Johnson. But the Bills can't plug every hole. I think they did a solid job of re-signing Johnson at a price they were comfortable with and drafting a left tackle on offense. Those were two big things the Bills needed this offseason. It's too early to project what Graham can do. The Bills are hoping for the best, but we have to wait and see.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How will Ryan Tannehill be as a Quarterback for the Miami Dolphins in 2012?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I think he will do quite well holding a clipboard to start the season. That's the plan for now.
Kevin (South Beach)
With the addition of Sparano, will the Jets take a step back offensively?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
How don't see how the Jets could get much worse offensively. They were inconsistent running the ball and their passing game couldn't get downfield or protect the quarterback. If Tony Sparano cleans up these three things, that will be progress. The Jets' offense was 25th in the NFL last year. The bar is pretty low.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)
Will playing DE be better or worse for Shawn Merriman, health-wise?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
It's hard to say. I think DE and OLB have some of the same requirements, such as taking on blockers and getting a good first step to the quarterback. Both will be important for Merriman coming off Achilles surgery. He must prove he can do those two things to be effective at either position.
More sacks in 2012 - Mario Williams or Cameron Wake? And why?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Mario Williams. He has more help around him. Buffalo's defensive line is going to be rough. Wake needs another threat. He's going to see a ton of double-teams.
In your opinion James who is the AFC East Player under the most pressure this year?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Mark Sanchez. Not even close.
Is Cordy Glenn a good pick in the 2nd round for the Bills?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I like the Glenn pick. I thought several OTs that dropped into the second round had potential, and Glenn is one of them. Big guy that's hard to get around. Buffalo really likes him. There was some talk that he can't play left tackle, but the Bills aren't buying it.
Hey James, I've heard coach Philbin is coaching a very upbeat offense down there in South Beach. Do you think Miami will be in shape to start the season or will they be gassed the first 7 games like last year?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
If the Dolphins players aren't in shape, they better get there. Miami is running more up-tempo on offense, at least that's what it looks like in practice. Miami wants to put pressure on the defense. That can be good and bad. It could lead to quick points if you're moving the chains. Or it could lead to a lot of quick three-and-outs and expose your defense. It worked in Green Bay. So HC Joe Philbin is trying it in Miami.
You covered the Dolphins abysmal WRs - but can you speak to why the Dolphins seem to think they are set there? Philbin keeps saying his system doesn't need stars, but I can't even see 5 viable WRs on the roster. Is there something we are missing?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
All I can say is the coaches believe in the system. But I think they are taking a leap of faith to think Hartline, Bess, and Fasano will produce like Jennings, Nelson, Driver and Finley. But we will see.
Is Chan Gailey going to be on the hot seat if the bills finish below .500 again?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
No doubt this is a big year for Gailey. I don't know if he's on the "hot seat," per se. No one in Buffalo has mentioned that term. But this is certainly a no-excuse year for Gailey. He finally has the players. Now, he needs to win more games.
Demario Davis (Florham Park)
James, I close faster than Bart Scott, my coverage skills are much better, and I'm a much better tackler than people anticipate. How long until I get to start?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Demario, I'm hearing a lot of good things. I almost cringed when Rex Ryan compared you to Ray Lewis though. That's a bit much. But work hard and be patient. Scott has earned the right to start. You can contribute for now in other ways if you're as good as advertised.
the Jets addressed the pass rush and the receivers, but still neet a RT and a cover safety. do you see them doing anything in those areas before the season?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
No, the Jets are pretty much done with free agency. Maybe if a big injury occurs, they will do something else. But the cap is pretty tight, and we still don't fully know what to make of the Darrelle Revis situation. It looks like Wayne Hunter is the guy at RT again this year, and Bell and Landry will try to make it work at safety.
Do you see Daniel Thomas having a better year this season? He showed some signs of talent last year, but dealt with injuries almost all season. Do you think he can be a featured back?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Miami has a pretty crowded backfield, Eric. Daniel Thomas is different in that he's probably the best option between the tackles. Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller are both threats on the outside. So I think he will get his share of carries. But it won't be a steady diet of 20 per game.
Andy (Hartford CT)
Who will be the #2 back for the Jets?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
Tim Tebow. Just kidding. I think Joe McKnight has a chance. He can provide a change of pace to Shonne Greene. He just needs to hold onto the ball.
Is Tanny over rated?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
Tanny-baum or Tanny-hill?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
We have two in the division now.
Al (Wausau, WI)
James, speaking of the Darrelle Revis situation, do you see any way he is not a New York Jet when the season starts?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
No, Revis will be a Jet. He has hinted he's unsure about a holdout, but I'm starting to think Revis will let things slide for another year. Revis is underpaid for this season. But he made a lot of money the past two years.
Seair Noor (Fl )
James, who do you think will win the Super Bowl this year?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Give me a few months to make my prediction. Last year I picked Patriots vs. Eagles. I was close. The Giants (NFCE) beat the Patriots.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)
More excited for Spider Man or Dark Knight?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I'm more of a Dark Knight guy. I will definitely see that one. The Avengers was pretty good. I saw that last week.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Never mind Chan Gailey, any chance Rex Ryan is on the hot seat if the NYJ fail to make the playoffs again this year? And are the owners starting to get tired of his big mouth?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
I don't get this one. Rex Ryan is not on the hot seat. He hasn't had a losing season yet in New York and went to back-to-back AFC title games. Say what you want about his brash and sometimes empty talk. I critique him all the time about that. But Ryan is a quality coach.
Perry (Disney Land)
Do you think Mark Anderson will live up to expectations this year? I think he is the weak link on that defensive line and while people are talking about that line being one of the best in the league, it seems like he could easily have a disappointing year and teams could really take advantage of his side of the line.
James Walker (4:44 PM)
The expectations aren't that high for Anderson. He doesn't have to get double-digit sacks again this year. Anderson just needs to take the pressure off Mario Williams. If Anderson gets seven or more sacks and does well against the run, he's fine.
Andy (Hartford CT)
Will Aaron Maybin get 10+ sacks this year and shed his 'bust' label?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I don't see Mayhem getting 10-plus sacks. But he contributed last year and did well. A similar year would be pretty good for him.
How do you feel about the Pats defense this year?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Can't get any worse. I think it will be better. The question is, how much?
Greg (Ft Campbell)
What do you think the Dolphins' chances at making the playoffs are?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
I'm trying to without my predictions until the preseason. But chances are slim the Dolphins make the playoffs this year.
James, do the Jets realize having like five SS and no FS who can cover a TE is a bad plan in today's NFL?
James Walker (4:51 PM)
I have a Blogger Blitz video coming up on this very topic. Check it out later this evening.
Expectations for Ryan Fitzpatrick this season?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Don't throw so many interceptions.
For as much talk about tannehill and the dolphins offense, what about its defense? Do you think they have regressed or is the sky the limit?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Miami's defense will be fine. It's a solid group, although Dolphins fans get upset when I call them overrated. That's because Miami's defense gets hyped as being elite when that's not the case. It's a good defense with some holes. The pass defense isn't great, pass-rush is shaky and the safeties are suspect.
Will (Orange, MA)
Which new receiver for the Patriots has the better season?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
It has to be Brandon Lloyd. He's the new WR who is starting. I think he's going to make a lot of big plays in the Patriots' offense.
Schwemp (Netherlands, Europe)
You think with brandon Lloyd in the mix, Wes Welker will have a more or a less productive season?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
I can't see how Wes Welker will have a more productive season. He caught 122 passes. I would go under that for next year. Too many weapons.
Brendan (New Orleans)
Are the Bills screwed at WR? After Stevie Johnson, I see a whole lot of nothin...
James Walker (4:58 PM)
The Bills will spread the ball around. David Nelson is a good slot receiver. He's just not as effective on the outside. Scott Chandler is a better pass-catching TE than he gets credit for. But the Bills don't use him enough, IMO.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)
Kraft came out and said he wants Welker to be a Patriot for life. Is this gonna happen? Belichick's track record with guys over thirty isn't so great...
James Walker (4:59 PM)
Robert Kraft is talking with his heart. He can do that as the owner. Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office are emotionless in negotiations.
Keith A (Rhode Island)
Can anybody in this division beat my STEELERS in the playoffs? I sure hope not!
James Walker (5:00 PM)
You know Tim Tebow is in the AFC East now, right? You saw what happened there in the playoffs.
About Emotionless negotiators (Foxboro)
Doesn't this sort of behavior engender a lot of ill will from the players over time? New England is getting a rep for treating dedicated players horribly.
James Walker (5:02 PM)
It can and probably does. But the Patriots are consistent and always doing what's best for the team, not the player. I think as long as you're going to Super Bowls, it doesn't really matter. Do Patriot fans really care that Willie McGinest is still upset years later? Probably not.
James Walker (5:03 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC East blog throughout the week for the latest updates.