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AFC East becoming fast, furious offensive division 06.13.14 at 12:07 am ET
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Could Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins follow the lead of the Patriots turn up the tempo in 2014? (AP)

Could Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins follow the lead of the Patriots turn up the tempo in 2014? (AP)

Looking for fast football? Then the AFC East may be your cup of tea in 2014.

The Dolphins are making a lot of noise this season about pushing the pace for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they have imported Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor as their new offensive coordinator. And given the fact that Lazor was with Chip Kelly and the record-setting Philadelphia offense in 2013, there are bound to be comparisons to what Kelly and Philly did.

“€It’€™s reminiscent of Chip Kelly’€™s offense in Philadelphia, with the tempo and style,”€ said one Dolphins player who asked not to be named when he was quizzed about the look of Miami’€™s offense this spring. “There are some West Coast offense concepts. … Some shotgun, some under center. They’€™ve discussed having both no-huddle and huddle. It’€™s fast tempo.”

For what it’€™s worth, Miami has been a little quicker than the average NFL team over the last two years under Joe Philbin. Measured using situation-neutral offensive pace — a formula from the site Football Outsiders that eliminates things like two-minute drills and late-game clock-killing situations to get a truer idea of the offense’€™s intentions when it comes to offensive pace — the 2012 Dolphins were ninth overall at one play every 29.23 seconds, and last year, on average, they ran one play every 30.08 seconds, 14th quickest in the NFL.

But a Kelly-style overhaul would certainly take things to the next level, and could jump start a Miami offense that had been bogged down at times the last few seasons under former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

“€Bill has done an excellent job,”€ Philbin said of Lazor’€™s work in a radio interview in April. “We’€™re going to be stressing the tempo of our offense, the play speed.”

Of course, when it comes to the AFC East, fast football is certainly nothing new, and more often than not the uptempo approach starts with New England. While last year’€™s Patriots eased off the uptempo style that helped to define them offensively over the previous two seasons, New England still was faster than most of the rest of the league in 2013. Using situation-neutral offensive pace, the Patriots ran one play every 26.59 seconds last season, the third-highest rate in the NFL. Only Philadelphia (23.88) and Buffalo (24.92) were faster.
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Read More: Bill Lazor, Chan Gailey, Chip Kelly, Doug Marrone
Bill Belichick on Philadelphia visit: ‘We’re going to be a better football team when we leave here’ 08.06.13 at 3:07 pm ET
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Julian Edelman catches a ball during training camp Tuesday in Philadelphia. (AP)

Julian Edelman catches a ball during training camp Tuesday in Philadelphia. (AP)

Bill Belichick watched as his team went through a two-hour practice with the Eagles Tuesday in at the Eagles’ practice facility in South Philadelphia.

What he saw was his team demonstrating the ability to perform with intensity against a different opponent for the first time since losing the AFC championship to the Ravens last January. The two teams will practice and scrimmage again on Wednesday before opening the preseason Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

According to all reports on the scene, Riley Cooper returned from a team-imposed exile for counseling after uttering a racial slur that caused a divide in the Eagle locker room. Cooper burned Alfonzo Dennard for a pair of touchdowns in 11-on-11 drills. On the first one, Jason Avant – an African-American – gave Cooper an aerial hip bump in celebration.

Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld caught a 20-yard touchdown on a seam pattern from Tom Brady, significant because the seam route has been a trademark of the Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection for the past three seasons.

There was a fight between Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson and Philadelphia corner Cary Williams, with Dobson benched for offensive drills immediately after. Williams appeared to instigate the fight.

Danny Amendola made a nice diving grab of a long Tom Brady pass for a touchdown in 11-on-11 drills. He also dropped a pass on a wide-open pattern to end the day.

Belichick spoke to reporters before practice began.

“Well, I think anytime you go into a new situation, you probably find some things that are a little different than the way you thought they were going to be,” Belichick said. “But, in all honesty, I think we have a real open mind about this. We’re here to get better. We’re here to compete against a good football team and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to be a better football team when we leave here than we are today. So, whatever opportunities those present, we want to take advantage of them. Whichever ones don’t come up, then we’ll have to get those somewhere else, some other time.”

Belichick will be working against Chip Kelly, the first-year Eagles coach who hails from Manchester, New Hampshire.

“Chip’s a New England guy, so we crossed paths from time to time in New England,” Belichick said. “We kept in touch over the past few years, and of course I have a lot of respect for what he’s done with the program out in Oregon. I’ve had several conversations with him since he’s taken over here in Philadelphia – owners meetings, Combine, phone conversations, things like that. I just think he’s a really solid coach and a solid guy. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him and I think he does a great job with his team.

“It’s nice to be here in Philadelphia, it’s really a great opportunity for us to come down here and work with the Eagles,” Belichick said. “I have so much respect for Chip [Kelly] and what he’s done. We’ve been friends for a while and I know he does a great job with this football team and the program that he’s run in Oregon and what he’s doing here. I think it will be a good experience for our team to get to see some different people, different scheme. We’ll see some different match-ups.

“It will be great for us from a coaching standpoint because we’ll certainly have to make some adjustments during practices and as we go. We haven’t done any kind of scouting report or anything like that, so a lot of it will be on the run, which will be good for us too, in terms of matchups and communication and all those things. We’re excited to be here and really looking forward to working with the Eagles. This has been an outstanding organization through the years, and I’m sure that Chip will have them in a very competitive situation next year.”

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Read More: 2013 training camp, Bill Belichick, Chip Kelly, Jason Avant
Chip Kelly: Bill Belichick ‘one of the iconic coaches’ in this profession 02.21.13 at 3:26 pm ET
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Chip Kelly meets the media Thursday afternoon at the combine. (WEEI.com photo)

Chip Kelly meets the media Thursday afternoon at the combine. (WEEI.com photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — The two fastest offenses on the field this season were Oregon and the Patriots, and so it’s no surprise that former Ducks coach Chip Kelly — who was recently hired as head coach of the Eagles — would be linked to Bill Belichick.

On Thursday at the scouting combine, Kelly called Belichick an “iconic” coach, and said he had plenty of chances to talk with Belichick while he was working as a college coach. Part of that was because of Kelly’s local ties — he is a New Hampshire native who went to UNH and coached there as late as 2006.

But another part of it was just made good sense.

“I know coach Belichick — I’m from New England, and so I spent a lot of time going down as a coach when they opened up practice for college coaches to come down and visit and talk with them, and I’ve always asked them questions,” Kelly said. “But I didn’t talk to coach about coming to the NFL. I didn’t talk to coach about what to expect in my first season. It’s … he’s one of the iconic coaches in this profession, and obviously, his record speak for itself. When you’re around people like that, you do a lot more listening than you do talking.”

At the same time, Kelly made it clear that he’s been able to pick up a variety of different things from different coaches over the course of his career.

“I don’t know — I think we’re all byproducts of our experiences,” Kelly said. “Whether your visiting coach Belichick, or I went to OTAs with Joe Philbin las year. I went with Chan Gailey in Buffalo. I’ve been to see Jim Harbaugh at the 49ers. I’ve been to see Pete Carroll in Seattle. All those guys have been gracious to let me come watch practice. Obviously, I’ve learned things from watching other teams practices, but there’s not one I’ll rely on more than another.”

Read More: 2013 combine, Bill Belichick, Chip Kelly,
Heath Evans on M&M: ‘Give Tom Brady one extra opportunity and he’s going to win this game’ 01.18.13 at 1:00 pm ET
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Heath Evans

Heath Evans

NFL Network analyst and former Patriot Heath Evans spoke with Mut & Merloni on Friday about Sunday’s Pats-Ravens matchup.

Evans noted that while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco clearly is capable of the high caliber of play he showed in the last two weekends, he’s also capable of struggling.

“Look at last week alone,” Evans said. “The guy throws two interceptions, basically, in overtime that were just dropped. If you’re going go talk with Bill [Belichick] in a private room, everyone knows what Joe’s capable of, but we also know what he does every single week. Every single week there’s two or three plays that change the course of the game. Sometimes they’re made, sometimes they’re dropped.

“Last week against Denver, which never should have been in overtime, if you ask me, he throws two easy interceptions that the plays just weren’t made by that Denver defense.”

In light of that, Evans said the Patriots defense can and should pressure Flacco into making a crucial mistake.

“My thought is, give Vince [Wilfork] a shot of adrenaline and tell him to ‘Go win this game all by yourself,’ like he’s done in years past against half the teams they play,” Evans said. “I would just kind of sit back, put the weight of the world on the DBs and say, ‘Between you and Vince, you guys are going to win this game. Flacco’s going to give you guys the opportunity to win the game, and you’ve got to make at least one of them.’ Give Tom Brady one extra opportunity and he’s going to win this game.”

Evans said the Patriots secondary, with a different look than it had when New England lost to the Ravens in the regular season, will be a determining factor in the game.

“That’s what gives me hope that we see them in New Orleans here in two weeks,” Evans said. “You cannot compare the back end, and honestly … I can point out so many areas where [Brandon] Spikes is playing better, [Jerod] Mayo we know, but this defense is not the same defense. Obviously Chandler [Jones], his health is going to be key, kind of like they’re waiting for John Abraham there in Atlanta. But the defense that Joe Flacco was getting ready to play was totally completely different than the Week 3 one that he had some nice success against.”

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Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Chip Kelly, joe flacco, New England Patriots
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