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November 27, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with James Walker

James Walker
  (4:00 PM)

Good afternoon. Let's see what's happening this week in the AFC East.

Brandon (New Windsor)

Why with the great Running Back tandem that Buffalo has with CJ and Freddy, have we not once used a Split-back formation? They're both dangerous on the same team, imagine how dangerous they'd both be on the field at the same time.

James Walker
  (4:03 PM)

It's hard to go with split backs when you run a spread offense, Brandon. That's part of Buffalo's problem. The Bills' strength is their two RBs, but the offense usually has three WRs and a TE or four WRs on the field at once. It's a scheme issue that makes it tough to get Spiller and Jackson on the field at the same time unless one of them lines up at WR. Spiller did some of that last year.

Josh (Castleton State College)

What will it take to see my Phins beat the Pats this weekend?

James Walker
  (4:05 PM)

The Dolphins must play a near-perfect game Josh. Miami will have to run the ball well to keep New England's offense off the field. The secondary must also play better. I can already see Tom Brady getting excited with the opportunity to pick on Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson. Those guys have to step up.

Steve (Tampa)

Is Ryan Tannehill progressing or ahead of the rookie QB learning curve?

James Walker
  (4:07 PM)

Absolutely, Steve. Do you know what Tannehill's original projection was this year? Holding a clipboard for 16 games. That was Miami's plan when it drafted Tannehill. But he's played well enough to start from Day 1 and barring injury will get through all 16 games.

Tim (Long Island)

Why doesn't Rex be honest with himself and realize Sanchez is not the answer(long or short term) and see what Mcelroy has?? He did have the guts to call out players for quitting at the end of last season.

James Walker
  (4:10 PM)

The Jets will pay Mark Sanchez just under $9 million next year. Benching him now would set the table to put all that money on the bench next year. Unless McElroy is the next Joe Namath, you don't run that risk.

James Walker
  (4:11 PM)

By the way, do Jets fans really think McElroy is that good? Or do you just want somebody (anybody?) in there but Sanchez. His name comes up more than any third-stringer in the NFL.

Jon (WPB, FL) [via mobile]

Well the Bills never fail to disappoint. You think it's fair to blame Gailey on this one? I Think a coaching change is nessecary. We need a more hardcore football coach. A Herm Edwards or a Bill Cowher type. The "players coach" just isn't working anymore.

James Walker
  (4:13 PM)

I'm going to wait until the full 16 games to make a definitive call on Gailey. But I don't like the 4-7 season I'm seeing so far. I think Buffalo would have at least a couple more wins with better coaching.

Jake (Miami)

What Dolphins do you think have a shot at the Pro Bowl?

James Walker
  (4:16 PM)

Interesting question, Jake. The Pro Bowl is kind of a popularity contest, so I think Jake Long has the best shot on name value. The best player, in my opinion, has been center Mike Pouncey. I think he's played at a Pro Bowl level, but there are some bigger names who could get the nod.

Steve (Tampa)

Jake Long has looked avg at times this "contract" year. Does he stay or does Miami look elsewhere?

James Walker
  (4:18 PM)

I've been writing about this dilemma for a few weeks now. Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland says Jake Long isn't going anywhere. But it's easy to say that before negotiations. When the millions start being discussed, I think Miami will realize Long hasn't played well enough to be the highest-paid lineman in the NFL. A franchise tag is possible as well.

matt (buffalo)

Say Chan stays another year, along with Nix. What should be their #1 priority in the off-season???

James Walker
  (4:20 PM)

I would say linebacker on defense and quarterback on offense. The Bills have coached very conservatively on offense lately. I think they are coming to the realization that you can't win consistently with Ryan Fitzpatrick. I think Buffalo will draft a QB in the first or second round this year.

James Walker
  (4:21 PM)

Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't have the consistency or the arm to lead a team to the Super Bowl. I was surprised when they gave him that extension during the season last year. It was too early for that.

George (Brazil)

Do you think that Oliver Vernon has earned a starting position on the dolphins defense, if not this season but next season? he's been a game changer even with the few plays he gets...

James Walker
  (4:23 PM)

Over who? Cam Wake? Odrick? Vernon is doing well in his reserve role and killing it on special teams. It should stay that way. He has plenty of time in the future to be a starter.

Alex (Niagara Falls, NY)

What do you think on Stevies comments? Do you think the players should start calling peopel out?

James Walker
  (4:27 PM)

It was the wrong thing to say publicly, but I think Steve Johnson was being honest the first time around. The coaching on offense has been more controlled. You don't have to be in the huddle to know that. I can see it on the field. Buffalo rarely goes deep anymore. The Bills don't take chances or take shots down the field. They throw a ton of screens (although they often work). They're basically telling Ryan Fitzpatrick "don't lose the game for us." It wasn't like that before. But I think with the pressure now on because jobs are on the line, the coaching staff has clammed up.

Brunick1 (Boston)

Could you see the Patriots going out and signing Jason Babin?

James Walker
  (4:29 PM)

Since he doesn't play tight end, probably not.

James Walker
  (4:30 PM)

Just kidding. Not at that current salary. Babin has to clear waivers first. If someone doesn't pick him up, maybe the Patriots will think about it if he's on the cheap.

James Walker
  (4:30 PM)

But my sense is someone will pay Babin a good amount to finish the year. He's a solid player.

Steve (Tampa)

Miami will have a ton of cap space next year. No doubt Jake Long is a possible target, but does Miami look elsewhere? They are in need of some WRs badly that can separate/dominate.

James Walker
  (4:32 PM)

Here is the issue with Jake Long: Who do you replace him with? If you don't fork over a boatload of money to keep Long, you have to pay someone left tackle money. Is that player going to be better than Jake Long? I don't know. Maybe you can move Jonathan Martin over, but he looks too light to handle top-level DEs on the blindside. The draft is possible, but now you're plugging a rookie in there. It's a tough decision all around. This is why GM Jeff Ireland makes the big bucks.

joe (rochester)

So what QBs? would they trade up in this small class of qbs or would they see what falls to them?

James Walker
  (4:36 PM)

Matt Barkley's injury is interesting. That may hurt his stock to where a team outside the top 5 may have a shot. The Bills are 4-7 but have an easy schedule. So if they finish with seven wins, for example, they are out of the race. Buffalo may want to go linebacker in the first round and quarterback in the second round.

James Walker
  (4:37 PM)

I don't see Barkley falling out of the top 10. But he's no longer the shoe-in top 3 pick he was entering the season.

James Walker
  (4:37 PM)

I don't see Barkley falling out of the top 10. But he's no longer the shoe-in top 3 pick he was entering the season.

Merle (Colorado)

How much of Buffalo's woes would you attribute to the Coach/GM?

James Walker
  (4:39 PM)

I wouldn't put much blame on the GM. The Bills, for the first time in a long time, spent real money in free agency. Gilmore and Glenn were two solid picks. The Bills have a top 10 RB they rarely used until two weeks ago. But the coaching has been shaky most of the year. As I mentioned earlier, I think this team could be around 6-5 if not for questionable coaching.

Matthew (KC, MO)

Which team in the AFC East is best suited to make a run at NE in the next few years?

James Walker
  (4:43 PM)

I would say the Dolphins. QB makes a huge difference and Ryan Tannehill may already be the second-best guy in the division. Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick are what they are. Tannehill has a huh ceiling and as he develops, I think Miami has a shot in the next year or two to make a push.

Jeff (Ottawa, Canada)

The Dolphins secondary has emerged to be a greater need than WG, though both will need work this offseason. Is this a need we fill early in the draft?

James Walker
  (4:46 PM)

Don't forget Richard Marshall is coming back next year. But the Dolphins probably need two corners for depth. Sean Smith is a free agent, and his situation will be interesting. He's decent but not a shutdown guy. Do you pay Smith about $40 million to keep him or let him walk?

Ronnie (OH)

Long time, James. I just wanted to stop by and say "hello" since you were still the AFC North guy the last time my Browns beat Pittsburgh. Always enjoyed your work. God Bless.

James Walker
  (4:48 PM)

I appreciate it, Ronnie. I hope all is well in Ohio and AFC North land. Maybe new ownership in Cleveland will finally get things turned around.

Harry (Babylon, NY)

If you were a Bills or Jets fan would you be rooting for them to lose out in order to move up in the draft?

James Walker
  (4:49 PM)

It's hard for me to say, because I'm not a fan and have trouble viewing things from that perspective. I always say root for your team and stick with your team. The draft will be there no matter what. Who cares about a couple slots up.

Paul (Mooresville, NC)

Lots of things to consider this offseason for the Fins - lots of cap, lots of picks, lots of Free Agents, lots of holes... According to the AFC East blog, the Fins are likely going away from Reggie Bush yet contemplating an extension for Jake "I used to be elite but not for" Long. Can you make sense of this madness?

James Walker
  (4:52 PM)

Supply and demand, Paul. There are a bunch of RBs in the NFL who can provide Reggie Bush's production. The Dolphins may have two already on their roster in Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. Why pay $30 million (just throwing out that number) to keep Bush? On the flip side, how many Jake Longs are out there? Miami will not be able to just plug in anyone to play left tackle. That's why he's a big priority.

jackson (orlando)

say your jeff ireland u have a small chance at getting into the playoffs but with the wins u have now u can get into a high draft spot what do u do

James Walker
  (4:55 PM)

You have to win now. No question. The draft will be there.

Harry (Babylon, NY)

Wouldn't the Bills and Jets both benefit by drafting a QB in next year's draft and groom them (similar to the 49ers approach) for the future?

James Walker
  (4:55 PM)

Yes, I expect both teams will.

mperez (NYC)

If the Dolphins somehow miraculously take down the Pats this week...does that make them a legitimate playoff contender?

James Walker
  (4:58 PM)

That would certainly keep Miami in the running. But here is the problem: The Dolphins still have to play at SF and at NE. Remaining schedule is brutal. I don't see how they get to the minimum nine wins that's needed.

James Walker
  (4:59 PM)

Everyone, thanks again for your time but I have to wrap this up at 5 p.m. Remember to check out the AFC East blog for all the latest news and upsets.