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)
Welcome to our latest AFC East chat. Let's get this party started.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
James - good advice to Geno Smith in your earleir blog post. Do you think he would have encountered this much scrutiny if he was drafted by another team instead of the Jets?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Thanks, Harry. I do think some of the scrutiny would've remained, because he faced a lot of it before the draft. But once Smith was drafted to New York, the country's largest media market, I think it did have an impact. Smith will continue to face these criticisms until he gets to prove otherwise on the football field.
James Walker (4:02 PM)
That's why all Geno Smith can do at this point is focus on becoming the best quarterback he can be. There's no point in trying to answer through words in the media.
Chie West Virginia [via mobile]
Is jarius Byrd ever going to sign long term with us? If not, do you see buffalo tagging him next year too?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
The Bills continue to keep an open mind with signing Byrd long term. I think it would be a mistake otherwise, because he is Buffalo's best and most consistent defensive player. The Bills have the cap room, but they also don't have to overpay for Byrd this year. Buffalo has leverage to wait another year if the asking price is too high.
James Walker (4:05 PM)
I think Jairus Byrd also has in the back of his mind that he wants to play for a winning franchise. So it goes both ways.
will mike gillislee become an offensive threat right away for miami?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Good question, Desmond. I watched Gillislee in rookie camp last week and I liked what I saw. I think he fits the mold of what Miami's coaches are looking for. Gillislee has the potential to fill a backup role. I think he competes with Daniel Thomas this year more than Lamar Miller.
Chie West Virginia [via mobile]
Can you see the bills going at least 9-7 this year and make a run for a wild card over Miami?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
It's a little too early for predictions. I want to see all four teams in camp and the preseason before I make my final call. But much of Buffalo's success will come down to choosing the right quarterback.
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Speaking of predictions, I'm debating sitting out 2013. Last year I made game-by-game predictions and killed it. Yet, people got annoyed and said it was too easy. There doesn't seem to be any reason to do them. Should I sit out the year?
Chances Sturgis wins the kicking duties for Miami?
James Walker (4:12 PM)
I think both Sturgis and Hopkins have a chance in Miami and Buffalo, respectively. Both were very good college kickers. I want to see more of them kicking under pressure in the NFL, but I expect two very good kicking competitions.
Jack (Denton, TX)
Do you know if Sanchez is signed beyond 2013?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Yes, Jack. Mark Sanchez is signed until 2016. However, nearly all of the guaranteed money will be paid after this season. Sanchez needs to have a very good year with the Jets or he will be released. Most expect this to be his final year in New York.
Is Richie Incognito in danger of losing his spot since he is owed a decent amount of money and they brought in some OL help?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
The Dolphins are all about building competition and Richie Incognito is no different. But I don't see him losing his job to a rookie this year. He played at a solid level most of last year.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi James - nice work covering everything AFC. John Idzik has done a good job distancing the Jets from the circus but most of the media hasn't let go yet. Slowly but surely do you think he has the team moving in the right direction?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I take things year to year, and I think a lot of what Idzik did this offseason makes sense. The biggest thing was cleaning up the salary cap, and the he did that. As a result, the Jets are not as talented as most teams. But no one expects much from them in 2013 anyway.
Candy (Slippery Rock)
James, why Clabo over Winston since Winston is a better zone blocker?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
That is true that Eric Winston has more experience in a zone-blocking scheme. That is what Miami is looking to do this season. Tyson Clabo said he learned zone blocking while on the practice squad with the Denver Broncos to start his career. Winston's injury history could have been a factor.
Mike (Apex, NC)
Do you think that defenses this year are going to make a point to really hit QB's that are doing the Run Option, even when they do not keep the ball?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
Absolutely, Mike. That is the easiest solution coaches can come up with. It's a dangerous formation for running quarterbacks, but you're also putting your franchise player in danger, as well. I would take as many free shots at the QB as possible if I'm a defensive coordinator.
Mike (Apex, NC)
Do you think that the Patriots offense, while innovative and being copied, is too reliant on the health of Gronk and Hernandez?
James Walker (4:25 PM)
I think any team relies on its best players. That's nothing new. The Patriots will have problems if both tight ends struggle with their health. But New England proved in the past that one good TE is enough to do well.
Ray Jask (Ocala, Florida)
Is relocation threat a smoke screen for Dolphins or can it really happen. Fanbase has really fallen the past decade.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
It can happen. The Dolphins are not locked in long term with Miami. But all the talk of relocating right now is too premature. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is not moving the team. But the next owner will have that as an option. This is more of an issue 5-10 years down the road. Not right now.
Do you think that Jonathan Martin will be great or acceptable at left tackle?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
I don't see Jonathan Martin being "great" this year. That would be a long jump from what I saw his rookie season. Holding his own is possible, and that's the wish of Miami's coaching staff. Martin has been working on his strength so he won't get pushed around. That's going to be key.
James. Dolphins sleeper pick... You aware of the curse you put on the Bills last season...how you gonna do that to my 'fins man.
James Walker (4:31 PM)
I know it's a nice joke in the blog that I cursed the Bills. But really, what's the excuse for the previous 12 years they missed the playoffs? Teams are going to perform well or poorly regardless of who I pick. It's up to the Dolphins to live up to their potential.
James, besides Tom Brady, who do you think will be the best player in the afc east in 2013?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
I think C.J. Spiller has a chance to be a star this year, or Rob Gronkowski if he every stays healthy for a full 16 games. Both are capable of putting up huge numbers.
Do you think Miami moving up will be beneficial, or should they have taken 2 players instead?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
It was a good trade, Assad. Miami fleeced Oakland by giving up just a second-round pick to move up. Whether the Dolphins should have taken a left tackle (Lane Johnson) or DE (Dion Jordan) is another debate. But I have no issues with that trade. I predicted Miami and Oakland would do that.
How can anyone expect to keep up with the Patriots?
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Tom Brady won't play forever, Eli. The Dolphins, Bills and Jets just have to keep plugging away, get better each year, and eventually one of those teams will take over.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
I do think some Patriots fans are spoiled by their success because Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been there for a long time. I think both will leave New England together in close proximity. Brady says he wants to play until he's 40. But the division will be more wide open once Brady and Belichick step down.
James Walker (4:40 PM)
That's why I sometimes refer to the AFC East as the "Brady and Belichick division." They've been dominant so long that it's expected every year that they win the AFC East.
who will show true signs of decline first, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
I expect both to play at a high level until wear and tear slows them down.
do you consider Brady to be as good as Marino was?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
I watched both. And I consider Tom Brady better than Dan Marino. Winning Super Bowls matter for a quarterback.
Brendan (New Jersey)
Regardless that Mark Sanchez went to two AFC Championship Games, can't we fairly say James that we'll only remember Mark Sanchez for the "Butt Fumble."
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I don't know, that's up to Jets fans. I didn't cover Mark Sanchez and the AFC East until 2011, and he's been a turnover machine since that point. I didn't cover his successful playoff runs. I was doing the AFC North at that time.
Will Mike Wallace offer Miami more than Brandon Marshall did?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Mike Wallace brings a different element, Katy. Wallace might be the best deep threat in the NFL with his elite speed. That wasn't Marshall's game. Wallace will bring the deep ball to Miami and that will add fear in opposing defenses. No one in Miami's offense scared opponents last year.
Is rushing EJ Manuel into action before he's ready the biggest threat to him this year? I sense folks are already champing at the bit to play him.
James Walker (4:49 PM)
The Bills are wisely taking their time. They have a luxury to sit EJ Manuel if he's not the best player. Buffalo is not going to listen to fan pressure in training camp.
Ellen (Little Falls)
How long until you think EJ Manuel is the #1 QB in the division?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
Tom Brady will have to retire before anyone takes that spot.
andrew. st cloud mn [via mobile]
How is the tight end situation gonna play out in miami
James Walker (4:52 PM)
It's pretty clear, Andrew. Dustin Keller is the starter and Dion Sims and Michael Egnew will battle for backup roles. Sims may be the favorite because he can block. Egnew can't block and was raw last year. He still has a lot to learn before he gets on the field.
What will the Jets do at tight end? Are they going to add someone or stay put?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
The Jets would be smart to add another veteran to the mix. They have some cap room available now. I don't think New York can go into the season with Jeff Cumberland as the starter and expect to be successful.
What was the point of drafting Geno Smith without uprgrading any skill positions? Geno will be plagued without any playmakers and no established running game. He will fail like Sanchez and doesn't appear to have the maturity to deflect all the NY media. Is he doomed for failure if he starts from the get go?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
I'm fine with drafting Geno Smith in the second round. It's not a lot of money involved and there's no huge risk. If you can get a potential franchise QB, you take him and worry about the other spots later. I'm not saying Smith is the long-term solution. But if he's the highest player on the Jets' board, there's no reason to pass.
Do you think this is the year for the dolphins to take the afc east since all other teams look like they could be In rebuild mode?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
The Patriots are not rebuilding. They remain the favorites in the AFC East.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks everyone for the fun questions. Be sure to check out the AFC East blog for the latest news and analysis.
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