|Checking in with rest of AFC East at league meetings||03.26.14 at 6:00 am ET|
ORLANDO — While Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and the Patriots have been making news this week at the NFL annual meetings in Central Florida, the rest of the AFC East was involved in the action as well. Here’s a look at some of the news from New England’s divisional foes over the last few days.
Jets – It wasn’t the old-school bravado we’ve come to know from coach Rex Ryan, but it was still a fairly brash statement for a team that hasn’t finished better than .500 since 2010.
“Watch out for the Jets, man,” Ryan said at Tuesday’s AFC coaches breakfast. “I’m just telling you.”
Ryan and the Jets have made a few moves to this point in the offseason, picking up wide receiver Eric Decker and swapping out Mark Sanchez for Mike Vick at quarterback. (Ryan indicated Tuesday that Geno Smith will remain the starter.) They’ve made some moves that give them some financial flexibility, which means they could be in on the race for DeSean Jackson if the receiver can be pried loose from Philly.
However, beyond an impressive front seven, the Jets still have questions at corner (Ryan has lamented the situation in the secondary), and despite the addition of Decker, still need to add offensive oomph this offseason. Look for them to target skill position players and defensive backs in the draft.
And look for Rex to stay Rex.
“My expectations have never changed: I want to win and I expect to win,” Ryan said. “I’ll say this: It’s time to deliver. It’s time to deliver for this community, for New York, for this entire area. We got to step up and deliver. I’m not running from it. Let’s put it that way — I expect a lot out of this football team.
“Nobody’s really talking about us, and that’s fine and dandy. They’re going to.”
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|Mark Sanchez Era comes to a close with Jets as AFC quarterback shuffle continues||03.21.14 at 9:04 pm ET|
The Jets decision to release Mark Sanchez and add Mike Vick brings this week’s quarterback carousel to an end.
Sanchez, who was a first-round pick of the Jets in 2009, was cut loose four days before a $2 million roster bonus was due to the USC product. He spent five years with New York, leading the Jets to back-to-back trips to the AFC title game in his first two seasons with the Jets. However, he was never able to hit the same heights, and sat out all of 2013 with a shoulder injury.
“I’d like to thank Mark for everything he’s done for this team and me personally,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a statement released by the team. “We were rookies together and had some early success, becoming the first rookie head coach and quarterback to go to back-to-back championship games. We experienced a lot together, and I really appreciate Mark. He’s a great player, a great teammate, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
The Jets later announced they had signed Vick, a veteran who lost his starting job with the Eagles midway through the 2013 campaign to youngster Nick Foles. Vick, 33, inked a one-year deal to (presumably) serve as the backup to Geno Smith.
“It means a lot to have the chance to come in and play for a great organization that had a lot of success last year and being on the brink of doing some good things,” Vick told the Jets’ website Friday. “Maybe I can come here and be an asset whenever my number’s called. I’m excited, I’m elated, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me and my family.”
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|Offseason updates on rest of AFC East||02.18.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
While we continue to view the world through a Patriots’ prism, here’s a quick update on what’s been going on in the rest of the AFC East this offseason:
Jets – New York started the offseason with a bang, announcing Rex Ryan landed a multiyear extension. But at the same time, the Jets have some tough calls to make on some veterans, including outside linebacker Calvin Pace. Then, there’s the question as to whether or not to release quarterback Mark Sanchez — per salary cap expert Joel Corry, the Jets will gain more than $8.3 million of cap room if they let him go before his $2 million roster bonus is due on March 25. (They’ll also get some more financial flexibility if they decide to part ways with wide receiver Santonio Holmes in mid-March.) If Sanchez is indeed gone, that will likely clear the decks for Geno Smith, who was involved in an off-field dustup involving a flight attendant on a Virgin America flight. However, GM John Idzik says he anticipates a competition at quarterback this season. On the other side of the ball, while the New York defense is pretty solid as a whole, they’ll almost certainly be the market for offensive skill position players this offseason either in the draft or free agency.
Bills – As is the case at this time of year, the biggest moves for Buffalo to this point in the offseason have come on the coaching staff — following the departure of Mike Pettine, the Bills have added Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. They’ve also done some more sideline shuffling, including the addition of Rob Moore as receivers coach and Pepper Johnson as linebackers coach. Schwartz favors a 4-3 scheme, which means the Bills will have to tweak their personnel as a result, but on paper, the Buffalo defense is actually pretty well-positioned going into 2014. Led by linebacker Kiko Alonso and pass rushers Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes, the Bills led the league with 57 sacks, and were second in the league with 23 picks. They could add some depth in the secondary, particularly if defensive back Jairus Byrd leaves as a free agent. Buffalo also needs some help on the offensive line, as well as some help at tight end if Scott Chandler walks in free agency. The Bills reportedly have roughly $15 million under the cap, and will likely use some of that to put more offensive skill position players around quarterback EJ Manuel, who needs to make a sizable leap going into 2014 if the Bills are able to break through in the AFC East.
Dolphins – Where to start? Miami is a bit of a mess right now, as the franchise continues to deal with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga. It remains to be seen if the Dolphins end up making changes on their coaching staff as a result of what’s happened, but they’ve already parted ways with GM Jeff Ireland, going with Dennis Hickey in his place. (They also fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman after Miami’s offense finished 26th in the league with an average of 19.8 points per game. They hired Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor as the new OC.) Hickey will have roughly $17 million in cap space to deal with when free agency opens, and he will almost certainly focus on an offensive line that was struggling, even before the Incognito-Martin situation blew up — quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times in 2013, most in the league. From a big picture perspective, it will be interesting to watch the moves that Hickey, coach Joe Philbin and owner Stephen Ross will make this offseason in hopes of trying to repair the Dolphins rep this offseason.
|Around the AFC East: Dolphins, Bills pull off narrow victories||09.15.13 at 5:12 pm ET|
With the Patriots having Sunday off, it gave us a chance to check out what’s going on in the rest of the AFC East. Here’s a quick look at what happened in the rest of the division over the weekend:
Dolphins (2-0): Miami won a highly entertaining contest Sunday against the Colts and Andrew Luck, coming away with a 24-20 victory to stay unbeaten on the year. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 23-for-34 for 319 yards and one touchdown to give Indy its first home loss in 12 months. Miami, which is 2-0 for just the second time since 2004, saw Mike Wallace (nine catches, 115 yards) and Charles Clay (five catches, 109 yards) go over 100 yards receiving. The Dolphins needed the firepower, as Luck had the Colts in position to pull off another comeback win — he had the ball at the Miami 23-yard line with 1:45 left, but tossed three incompletes and was sacked on fourth down to finish things.
Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Falcons
Jets (1-1): Like the Patriots, New York also had the weekend off, but managed to make its share of headlines with the decision to place quarterback Mark Sanchez on injured reserve with a designation to return. While coach Rex Ryan said he believed Sanchez could contribute later in the season, the move means that Sanchez will be on the shelf for the next eight weeks. (The earliest Sanchez could be back is Nov. 17 at Buffalo, following the Jets’ bye week.) That means that for the foreseeable future, the quarterback job belongs to rookie Geno Smith, who was a bit of a mixed bag in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots. The West Virginia product was 15-for-35 for 214 yards, and was sacked four times and intercepted three times.
Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Bills
Bills (1-1): Buffalo got its first win of the season on Sunday with a dramatic 24-23 victory over the Panthers, thanks in large part to rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who connected with wide receiver Stevie Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left to lift the Bills. Manuel engineered a game-winning drive late in the fourth, a nine-play, 80-yard series where he went 6-for-8 for 51 yards. (He ended the game 27-for-39 for 296 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.) Manuel got some help down the stretch when Carolina (and former Boston College) linebacker Luke Kuechly was penalized for pass interference on a third down play with less than a minute to go to help keep Buffalo alive.
Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 at Jets
|What they’re saying in New York: ‘Buttfumble’ in the past, Patriots appear vulnerable||09.11.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
When the Jets and Patriots take the field Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, the game will feature a complete overhaul from the teams that faced off on Thanksgiving last year. That meeting resulted in a 49-19 Patriots rout and produced arguably the most infamous play of the season: the “Buttfumble.”
Absent is the man at the center of it all, Mark Sanchez, who smacked into the backside of his own lineman, Brandon Moore, and dropped the ball that New England’s Steve Gregory returned for a touchdown. Sanchez is out with a shoulder injury to start the season.
Moore retired at the end of the season.
“There’s so many new guys in that locker room,” said Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post during a Wednesday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan. “I’m walking around there yesterday, as we do covering teams, and you look at these lockers where you’re going to go talk to a guy that you’ve spoken to for the last three or four years, and you’re like, ‘Oh, jeez, that guy’s not on the team anymore.’ There are so many new guys now.’
“Most of the guys in that locker room weren’t even a part of the thing last year.”
The team on the positive side of the blowout also underwent a transformation this offseason. The Patriots lost both their tight ends — Rob Gronkowski for the interim, Aaron Hernandez permanently — along with wide receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, and running back Danny Woodhead.
New England signed wide receiver Danny Amendola to make up for the loss of Welker, and the Patriots looked to guys like Shane Vereen to pick up the slack offensively for the injured Gronkowski. However, Vereen (broken wrist) is out two months, while Amendola (strained hamstring) reportedly will not play Thursday night.
Cannizzaro wrote in his column Tuesday that these injuries mean New York has a great shot at beating New England for the first time in their last five meetings.
Here’s a look at what others in New York are saying about Thursday’s showdown:
• The Bergen Record echoed Cannizzaro’s opinion that New England looks particularly vulnerable this season.
• ESPN New York also took a look at the “Buttfumble” and how it marked the start of a downward spiral for the Jets, and even a number of their players’ careers.
|Geno Smith is no dummy||09.09.13 at 10:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When it comes to the Patriots, Geno Smith has done his homework.
A week after Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson displayed an alarming lack of knowledge about the New England secondary — saying Patrick Chung still played for the Patriots when he was with the Eagles — the Jets rookie quarterback proved Monday he knew the type of opponent he was up against this week.
Asked on a conference call by the New England media what stands out for him about the New England defense, the rookie out of West Virginia proceeded to rattle off 10 of the Patriots 11 starting defensive players, including minor tidbits along the way, like how linebacker Dont’a Hightower came out of Alabama and safety Steve Gregory was with the Chargers before signing with New England before the start of the 2012 season. (The only starter he didn’t mention was new defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.)
It seems like a relatively minor point, but when rookie quarterbacks routinely forget who was in which division (hello, Ryan Tannehill) and players like Johnson forget who suits up for that week’s opponent, it was a sign — no matter how small — that the youngster has an appreciate for the challenge that lies ahead.
Smith — who was taken 39th overall this past spring by the Jets — said the New England defense is more than just a collection of individuals.
“They’re a very well coached defense,” Smith said. “They obviously present mismatches for anybody, so it’s going to be tough for us. We just have to continue to stay smart.”
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|Pete Prisco on D&C: Tim Tebow ‘just not good enough to play in the National Football League’||08.22.13 at 11:04 am ET|
Pete Prisco checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and the CBS.com senior NFL writer didn’t hold back when it comes to expressing his dramatic views on Tim Tebow and the Patriots’ AFC East rivals.
Tebow, as Prisco sees it, doesn’t have an NFL future, nor did he ever. The only reason he’s still in Patriots camp is because Bill Belichick is stubborn and is still trying to prove everyone wrong.
“He is what he is,” Prisco said of Tebow.
“He’s just not good enough to play in the National Football League, and if his name was anything other than Tim Tebow, the New England Patriots would have cut him by now. How can the Patriots look at that skill set and think he should be a quarterback in the National Football League? OK, let’s talk about other the positions. What else can he do? He can’t do anything else. The bottom line is he needs to be let go, he needs to get on with his life’s work, let the end come.”
Fortunately for the Patriots, their season doesn’t exactly hinge on Tebow’s fate. Prisco said he expects Tom Brady and the offense to be just fine this season, despite the losses of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, plus Rob Gronkowski’s pending health situation.
Prisco went as far to say the combo of Brady and Danny Amendola would be even more productive than the Peyton Manning-Welker duo in Denever, if only because Brady has fewer receiving weapons.
“Last year, even with Gronkowski and Hernandez, when you watched them play and they put up big numbers, they were a slow team,” Prisco said of the Pats offense. “They were a slow offense. I think this year you’re going to see a faster offense, so from that standpoint there’s going to be some change, some adjustment, but it’s Tom Brady. Brady will make those younger guys be better football players.”
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