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 everyone. Thanks for joining me for another AFC East chat. It's been a busy day so far. Let's get right to it.
Why would HBO want the Dolphins on their "Hard Knocks" show? The Dolphins already made it clear who the starting QB is. That could be a smoke screen though. Hmmm, still... why Miami?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
This was the big news of the day, Jeff. Keep in mind, Miami was not HBO's first choice. The network went to several teams, including the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans, before finding a team willing to do it this year. Yes, Miami isn't a sexy team. But the Dolphins are one of the few with a legit QB competition. That's always an easy story to focus on. I also think the owner, Stephen Ross, is interesting because you never know what he's going to say. There are reasons for me to watch. But I'm not a casual fan. The question is, will someone in New York or L.A. or Boston watch the Dolphins?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
That will be the challenge. Will the Dolphins be able to captivate people who aren't big followers or fans of football to an HBO audience?
Is it just me or have the Jets missed their window to be greatness?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
That's the million dollar question, Aron. The Jets made it to back-to-back AFC title games and failed to take advantage both times by getting to the Super Bowl. It's really hard to win a Super Bowl. The great teams consistently put themselves in the hunt and hope to get hot and have a couple things go their way down the stretch. The Jets are a veteran team, and we may have seen the best from them. I wouldn't make them a Super Bowl favorite this year, although they do have the potential to compete for a playoff spot.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What AFC East Team do you think has the best shot of going to Super Bowl XLVII?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
The Patriots are the type of team I was talking about. They consistently put themselves in position to make a Super Bowl run and hope a few things go their way down the stretch. That's basically the formula in this age of free agency. So many things happen during the course of a season that if you're in the title hunt by January, you've done your job.
Lisa (Miami )
I don't find anything wrong with Dansby's comments. As a team leader, he should be encouraging. Im not saying it's VERY likely it happens, but was he supposed to say "we'll just try to be competitive on sundays" or "maybe we get 6 wins"?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
If that's how Dansby feels, I don't have a problem with it, either. The issue that I have is that many Dolphins fans in the blog didn't like when I predicted six wins this year. I'm just giving an honest opinion. Dansby is doing the same by thinking Miami is going to the Super Bowl. One of us will be wrong, but I'm feeling very confident in my take over Dansby's.
Olin (Clarence, NY)
The AFC East to me seems like it is going to be the most competitive, storyline packed division in football. New England trying to keep the momentum, the Jets trying to re-discover success, Miami trying to establish a future, and my Buffalo Bills coming of age with coaching and roster moves. Is there a more storied division out there this year?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
There will be plenty of story lines, Olin. But I don't think it will be the most competitive. The Patriots, in my opinion, are pretty far ahead of the competition. I don't see how they won't win 12 games or more this year. I think the race for second place is where it gets interesting. But there are more competitive divisions.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
Of course, barring major injuries with New England. That's the only thing I can see derailing the Patriots from winning the AFC East this season.
Colin (Columbus Ohio)
Who do you think wins the bills backup qb job.. Thigpen or Young??? GO BILLS!!
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I think the job goes to Vince Young. The Bills can do more with him as a backup. Young can come in as a Wildcat quarterback and do trick plays. He also has a decent amount of wins as a starter. I would peg Young as the early favorite.
I think Brian Hartline could easily have a 80 catch 1100 yard season. Bess can produce similar, maybe more like 70/1000 if they stay healthy. Include the production of TEs, and one other WR, and I don't think Miami will miss Brandon Marshall. While I was furious at first, in hindsight I think it was a good move, even if he does have 110/1400/12 TDs next year with his BFF. He would not have produced like that in Miami.
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Chris, don't overrate your own players. Some fans tend to do this, and I've been seeing it a lot lately with Dolphins fans. Brain Hartline can play in the NFL. But he's not a Pro Bowler. And Hartline and Bess won't both put up 1,000-yard seasons. Many of their catches were because Brandon Marshall was taking coverage way from them. Let's see what happens when Hartline is guarded by Darrelle Revis this year.
What are your thoughts on McKelvin. He seems to have the talent but can't put it together. With Gilmore and Williams starting and McGee (if healthy) ahead of him, I'm surprised he was kept and Florence was cut. Are the Bills hoping that in a contract year he might actually put it all together or is he as good as gone next year?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Matt, I didn't get to see McKelvin until last year. But I wasn't impressed. I don't think he was a good pick for Buffalo. I like him as a kick returner, but not as a starting cornerback.
Trent (Cedar Rapids Iowa)
How does the addition of Vince Young affect the playing time and role(s) of the athletic playmaker and former Missouri QB Brad Smith? He was viewed as a wildcat formation QB - do you see him playing a larger role in the return game or as a slot receiver?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Smith was another player I was disappointed with in Buffalo. He wasn't good as a WR, and even if Wildcat stuff didn't look as good as it did with the New York Jets. Maybe it will take a year for Smith to fit in with the Bills. But he looked like a fish out of water at times last year. The Bills could use WR depth this year. So Smith will get some chances.
Do you think that the Jets could use that everyone is counting them out to their advantage for this upcoming season?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
Yes, a chip on the shoulder is always a good thing. That's when the Jets were at their best anyway. No one expected New York to make it to back-to-back AFC title games when Rex Ryan first arrived. But expectations were sky high last year and New York couldn't handle it. When things went wrong, the Jets imploded.
so, jimbo I have the bills winning 14 games or more this year. wana take that bet and give me 5-1 odds?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Dave, stop it. The Bills are not going 14-2 or better this year. They need to learn how to win in the division first.
What is the over/under on # of snaps per game that Tebow will get in NY? Sanchez was often rattled under pressure since arriving in NY, and I can see increased playing time by Tebow but Sanchez in a pretty messy situation especially considering the vocal nature of Rex. Thoughts?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
There's no set number, Trent. It will probably go week to week, depending on the game plan and the opponent. On average, I would says 5-10 snaps a game.
Brendan (New Jersey)
Do you think with the Dolphins doing "Hard Knocks" this year is one of Stephen Ross' attempts of getting more fans in the seats?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Yes, that's a big part of it Brendan. The local and national perception of the Dolphins isn't very good. So this is a chance for them to open their doors and show everyone they are not a dysfunctional franchise. It's free publicity. Miami bought up a lot of its own tickets last year. The Dolphins need fans to buy in.
With no WRs besides Holmes and a questionable situation at QB, how do you figure the Jets plan to score points this year? Besides field goals of course.
James Walker (4:35 PM)
The Jets are counting a lot on rookie WR Stephen Hill. He has the potential to be a legit deep threat this year if he learns the NFL game quick enough. That will help the offense.
Matt Moore, David Garrard, or Tannehill? Whom do you think will be taking the snaps come week 1 and will it stay that way all season assuming they all stay healthy?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Either Moore or Garrard. I don't see how Tannehill will win the starting job from two veterans right away. The Dolphins want to bring him along slowly.
Jim, I just looked at the schedule, I seriously don't see the Bills losing this year!! You coming to my superbowl party???
James Walker (4:38 PM)
Apparently the Bills will face the Dolphins in the AFC title game. There's been some strange Super Bowl predictions in the AFC East lately.
cgc5783 (WB, NC)
I enjoyed the Henne/Sanchez/Fitz watch last year(even though alterations had to be made). Do you plan on doing the same this year? Should get interesting with the possible QB battles. #BIM
James Walker (4:40 PM)
I haven't thought about it. It was a popular feature. But I'm not sure it's something I want to do every year. It was my first season, and I knew there was a lot of debate of who's best behind Brady. We settled it for now. So I may leave it alone.
Can Devon Bess and Brian Hartline be enough of a threat to open things up for the running game for Bush & Co.?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Readers of the AFC East blog know I have my doubts about Miami's WRs. But the Dolphins seem pretty confident they can do the job. Let's see.
What off season addition was the biggest splash of the AFC East and what was the worst or most over-hyped?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Mario Williams and Tim Tebow. Tebow wasn't the worst addition, but definitely the most over-hyped. He's a backup QB who may play 5-10 snaps a game.
donald j paige (niagara fall's ny)
will the bills bet the jet this year
James Walker (4:44 PM)
It's a tough matchup for Buffalo. But the Bills need to at least split if they are going to change their losing ways. Week 1 is Bills at Jets. That game will be huge for both teams.
what are the chances that NE makes a real effort to run the ball consistently?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I'm fine with New England's running game. The Patriots are a passing team that uses that to set up the run. If you have Tom Brady, you would much rather keep the ball in his hands. The more the Patriots are running the ball, the less Brady is throwing it.
Jeff (NY, NY)
James - how about doing a AFC East rookie watch?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
That's not a bad idea. There are dozens of rookies, though. Maybe I can figure out a way to focus on the top five.
Are the Dolphin's off season transactions over or do you see them going after or landing a big name later on?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Well, there's not many big names out there. Plaxico Burress is interested in Miami. But the Dolphins want Burress. I thought Donald Driver would be on the first plane to Miami if he was released by the Green Bay Packers. But it appears the Packers could hold on to Driver.
Any indication of what the Jets are actually doing differently this year? I know they are going to be "ground and pound" behind Sparano- but does he have the proper personnel to work with?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
A lot of it is focused on ball security, Roger. The Jets, and particularly quarterback Mark Sanchez, did a lot of fumbling last years. The Jets figure if they can reduce the turnovers, they will be much better offensively.
Barring injury, does CJ Spiller have a chance at taking the starting job away from Freddy?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
No, Stephen. The job is Jackson's unless he gets injured.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Speaking of the Jets, James, how do you think Shonn Greene will fluorish in Tony Sparano's Jets offense?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
Greene should get a lot of carries. That's good for him. But he also has to prove he's durable. Greene suffered through injuries last year but managed them to stay on the field.
Who do you project will be the starter opposite Mario Williams Week 1 in Buffalo, Mark Anderson or Chris Kelsay?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Mark Anderson, with Kelsay in the rotation.
Tom (Ogilvie, MN)
James in your opinion which team has the best defensive line in the division?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
The Buffalo Bills have the best group, especially if Kyle Williams proves he's 100 percent.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC East blog for all the latest updates.
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