All posts by Andrew Carney

5 Prospects to Keep an Eye On

As the Patriots continue their onslaught of the regular season, the college football season enters its bowl season. That means we’re closer to getting into the meat of the draft season. Although the Pats don’t have their 1st round pick, there is still a lot of talent in the middle part of the draft. This draft looks a lot like the 2013 draft in the sense that there isn’t elite talents, but a lot of solid players. Here are ten players that Pats fan can look at for the pick in the 2nd round and beyond:

  1. RB James Conner – Pittsburgh. If he didn’t tear his MCL in the first game this season, Conner was a front runner for the Heisman. With that injury, teams are more apt to focus on the players that have a full year of game tape. At 6’2, 240 pounds, Conner is a load that can be the heir apparent to LaGarrette Blount. He isn’t fast, but he’s a plodder that can be had easily in the 2nd, but could be had in the 4th and later. Also, the Pats have had success with Pitt running backs in the past (Dion Lewis and Curtis Martin).
  2. G/T Denver Kirkland – Arkansas. Belichick likes amassing O Line depth and this year proves that you can never have too much depth at the position. Kirkland is massive (6’5, 340) that can play both guard and tackle and is nimble for a man his size. Versatility is a staple of all Patriots and Kirkland looks like he could be dominant at G at the next level.
  3. DE/OLB Jordan Jenkins – Georgia. Even with the drafting of Tre Flowers and Geno Grissom last year, Belichick is putting a premium on pass rushers. Jenkins isn’t an elite pass rusher coming out of Georgia (but neither was Hightower). But he was a captain, but Belichick loves collecting college captains and Jenkins is someone that, again, offers versatility. He can play OLB in a hybrid front but has the size (6’3, 255) to put his hand in the ground and rush the passer. Jenkins just looks like a Patriot.
  4. WR Leonte Carroo, Rutgers. You can’t have the draft process without the Pats looking at a Rutgers prospect. Although Carroo doesn’t have elite size (6’0, 205) and speed, he’s a precise route runner that can uses his athleticism and body control to be a threat both on the outside and in the slot. He would be great depth and be someone to keep an eye on as the process continues.
  5. CB William Jackson III, Houston. Jackson might be the best senior CB in the draft who has excellent size (6’1, 195) who is an aggressive DB who can use his elite speed as well to play with the best of them. Although it’s still early enough that Jackson will probably be drafted higher in the 2nd and maybe even the bottom part of the 1st if he has a great off season. But, he could fall due to other positions being coveted. He’s someone to keep an eye on.

Miami Dolphins: The Mess in Miami, what’s wrong in South Beach


There might not be a team that had more hype than the Miami Dolphins going into this year and yet here they sit, 1-3 with a fired head coach. His replacement, TE coach Dan Campbell, was drafted a year AFTER QB’s Matt Hasselbeck and Peyton Manning, who will start this week for their respected teams. What brought Miami back into the foray of a rebuilding team with a new coach yet again? What has caused their inability to find stability in a franchise that was considered one of the best in the first part of the Super Bowl era? It all starts at the top, but here are five instances that show why they are still years away from contending:

Lack of consistency in regards to coaching. There might not be a more prima donna owner than Stephen Ross, who is too involved and has made awful hires for his head coaches (Joe Philbin, Tony Sporano, Cam Cameron, and Dave Wannstedt) and GM’s (Jeff Ireland, Nick Saban (who was both HC and GM). By constantly going through unreliable, unestablished coordinators as their coaches and then forcing Saban back to the college ranks is why this team has not gotten ahead.

Poor decisions regarding drafting and free agency. The biggest blunder, of course, is trading for an injured Dante Culpepper instead of signing Drew Brees. The trades for AJ Feely and Brandon Marshall also backfired. Drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan, and the first round busts of CB Jason Allen, Dion Jordan and WR Ted Ginn. Also, giving up on CB Vontae Davis, who is now one of the best CB’s in the league, is something that still haunts them. Also, paying DT Ndamukong Suh $100 million and WR Mike Wallace a lot of money for less than desirable results. All awful decisions.


The development of Ryan Tannehill has been troubling. He is someone that got paid a lot of money for not really doing much after having a good 2014 (albeit statistically). He looks to have regressed (his completion percentage went from 66% last year to 56% so far this year)and now with recent reports of berating practice squad players for intercepting him shows that he has a long way to go when it comes to be a leader.

So, bad leadership from the Top down to the Quarterback shows that Miami is an organization that has a lot of deep seeded issues. All of these factoids show that they are a team is trending down and due to consistent mistakes in every facet of the organization. If they are to fix the issue, they need to a complete overhaul and try to build a team with a coach/GM that have the same mindset and an owner that will stay out of their way. Kraft learned this in New England in regards to Bill Parcells and due to Stephen Ross’ arrogance, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

New England Patriots player spotlight: Taking a look at Jamie Collins

Image: Boston Herald
Image: Boston Herald

Bill Belichick has worked with some pretty dynamic defensive players: Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and Willie McGinnest to name a few. But none might be as dynamic as Jamie Collins. Collins is the ultimate chess piece; the player that can literally play every defensive position and play it well. In 2014, his first as a starter, he recorded 116 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Already this year, he has 22 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles…IN THREE GAMES. Barring injury, Collins is ready to not only cement his position as the best LB on the Patriots, but the best LB in the league.

At Southern Mississippi, the school that famously gave the world Brett Favre, Collins played defensive back (both corner and safety), linebacker and defensive end. The fact that he excelled at defensive back, standing at 6’3, 250 pounds is a test to show how freakish of an athlete Collins truly is. Also a standout track & field athlete, Collins was a state track qualifier. At the 2009 3A South State Meet, he earned first-place finishes in the shot put (51-6) and discus throw (156-0 or 47.80m), while also placing second in both the high jump (6-4 or 1.93m) and triple jump (43-10.5) events.* While at the 2013 Combine, he ran a 4.59 40 and had a broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches, which was a combine record; Not just for linebackers or defensive players, but for EVERY player that has ever participated in the NFL Scouting Combine (this was recently beat this year by CB Byron Jones, but Collins’ record still stands for linebacker).

Image: NE Patriots draft
Image: NE Patriots draft

The interesting thing about Collins is where he lines up along the Patriots front. Teaming with fellow stud LB’s Donta’ Hightower and Jerod Mayo, the Patriots can make an argument for the best LB corps in the league. But again, he has lined up at defensive end, defensive tackle and some deep safety this year already. He joined in the effort against Buffalo with 8 sacks of Bills QB Tyrod Taylor. As the season goes on, expect Collins to start taking more of a dominant role and other teams will have to know where #91 is.

Belichick has tried before to add a player similar to Collins’ skill set (Adalius Thomas anyone?) but he struck gold here. Seeing Collins all over the field shows the amount of respect Belichick and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia have for his ability and they will work to put him in the best position. His ability to cover TE’s (having to guard the best TE in the league in practice doesn’t hurt things) has made him indispensable and now is increasing his pass rush. His ability softens the blow of the loss of CB Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Creating an intense pass rush helps average CB’s look like Pro-Bowlers. After all, the Giants won two Super Bowls with this philosophy.

Collins, with all his ability and skill, has to prove going forward that he can sustain the level of success he needs to become an All-Pro. With good coaching and strong leadership around him, Collins has the ability to step up and be the best at his position. By giving arguably the best defensive mind in the last 20 years an invaluable addition shows how far ahead the Patriots are of other teams and how they are still the team to beat in the NFL in 2015.

State of the AFC East and other thoughts

AFC East

Currently, the Jets and Patriots are tied atop of the AFC East with the Dolphins and Bills at 1-1. Is the AFC East much different than last year? The Bills look like a typical Rex Ryan team, a lot of vibrato after beating the most overrated team in the NFL in Week One and then crashing to earth against a team with actual talent. The Jets are undefeated, yet struggled against the hapless Colts and destroyed the dangerous tandem of McCown/Manziel in Cleveland. Miami snuck by Washington and lost to the Jags. Not saying the Patriots don’t have faults (i.e. their run defense), but it seems like the flaws of these teams will do them in again. Even though it’s early, Pats fans should get their popcorn ready and enjoy this season.

The run defense has been the biggest issue so far this season. The Steelers and Bills both ran very well against New England and Belichick and Company have noted this. Bringing in two defensive tackles (6’1, 340 LB Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and 6’6 330 LB Kendrick Ellis) of note means that they recognize this as an issue. It would be interesting to see if they sign one of these players, but the trio of Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga and Malcom Brown aren’t cutting it at the moment. How can this be resolved? It’s tough to say, since the Patriots morph their scheme to fit their opponent. Although, it seems as it could be something that gradually improves as the season goes on. Luckily, the next three opponents (Jaguars, Colts and Cowboys) have trouble running the ball. That could be enough time, with the bye mixed in, for Belichick and Matt Patricia to figure out what they can do to improve the defense.

The addition of Keshawn Martin last week means a few things: depth at WR and reliability on special teams. Martin is a special teamer that is also a solid returner (25.1 YPG on kick returns, 8.9 on punt returns with a TD). This addition could mean that they want current return men Amendola and Edelman to more focus on being the top 2 receiver options for Brady until LaFell comes back. With the use of Aaron Dobson in the last game (7 catches, 87 yards), adding Martin is a solid move across the board.

The biggest surprise this year is how well the interior offensive line has played. Guards Josh Kline, Tre Jackson, Shaq Mason and Center David Andrews have exceeded everyone’s expectations. With handling some talented defensive linemen in the first two weeks (Cameron Heyward, Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams to name a few) has been impressive to say the least. The biggest surprise has been Andrews, who is undersized (6’3, 285), yet has held his own. The MVP (outside Brady, of course) has to be OL Coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Having 3 rookies ready in the interior of an offensive line that has protected Brady and opened up holes for surprising RB Dion Lewis (Having Mason play FB might be the definition of smash mouth). Filling in for a HOF coach in Scarnecchia hasn’t been easy, but DeGuglielmo has stepped up and done an admirable job. As the season progresses, it’d be interesting to see if the rookies can keep it up and keep the dominance streak going.

New England Patriots: Thoughts going into the Steelers Game


Dion Lewis’ steady play caused the Pats to make a tough decision in cutting second year RB Jonas Gray. Although Gray showed flashes, he was never consistent enough as a runner or pass catcher this pre-season. Although it feels like a waste to cut him after a year, it shows that Belichick and McDaniels can ill afford to be prideful when it comes to owning up to a mistake quickly. Lewis will take the Vereen role, which might be the most overlooked and important part of this offense. It doesn’t hurt that Lewis is donning Kevin Faulk’s old number, who is probably the best 3rd down back of all time.

With FB James Develin going on season ending IR, it often comes back to the question: Will the Pats go get a fullback or stick with what they have? With the decision to keep 4 TE’s (Gronk, Chandler, Hooman and Williams), it shows that the Pats will go to more 2 TE sets to emphasize more of a 7 man blocking front. Hooman can go in the backfield as he has done in the past, but I wouldn’t be so sure that if a good FB appeared on the market, the Pats wouldn’t swoop him up (Note: Henry Hynoski of the Giants was just cut, couldn’t be a better fit)

The idea to keep Dobson is the smart decision when it comes down to the numbers. Dobson showed flashes of what made him a second round pick in 2013 this pre-season, but still missed some time due to his chronic injury issues. Even though Chris Harper clearly out played him, they already have quick route runners on their team with Edelman and Amendola. Dobson is the only legitimate deep threat the Patriots had on their roster and even if he isn’t someone that can play every game. He could be the way the Pats stretch the field this year and is someone who teams will have to keep an eye on.

The much maligned secondary is shaping up to be a liability but has some promise. Basically, they kept 2 zone CBs (Ryan, and Brown) and 2 man/press CB’s (Butler and Fletcher). This shows that they will be team specific when it comes to what they will do with their lineup weekly, but it looks like Butler and Ryan will start with Brown taking Kyle Arrington’s old spot at Nickle. The fact that they kept S Tavon Wilson over special teamer Nate Ebner was the smart decision overall. The former second rounder in 2012 looked much approved this preseason and has the ability to play both safety positions and corner and be a contributor on special teams. Belichick loves versatility with guys like Wilson, and that is why he got the nod.

Even though the team looks set going into the Pittsburgh game, there is still a chance that there will be some big contributors on this squad that isn’t on the team yet. They already brought in 8 players for workouts (none of note) and can still sign someone before Thursday. Also, the practice squad will be set and will make a difference who they will sign from other squads. Watching what positions they will sign will show what positions are issues and need depth beyond the 53 roster. For instance, if they sign 2 CB’s, that might mean that a man on the current roster is on the bubble and is trying to bring along someone throughout the year in their system that can replace him if he doesn’t play well enough initially. It’s something to keep in mind as the team sets up their practice squad. It can show more about the state of the team and what they want to do than you would think.

What to look for in Week Four and Final Roster Projection

Julian Edelman vs. Malcolm Butler.
Julian Edelman vs. Malcolm Butler.

What to expect from Week 4 and Roster Prediction

Finally, the regular season is almost on us and the  Patriots team that will take the field against Pittsburgh is starting to come into form. As the last game against the Giants comes up on Thursday, here are a few positions to keep in mind when you watch the game:

Fullback: With the loss of FB James Develin for at least 6 weeks, the need for a blocking back comes back into mind. Michael Hoomanawanui and Asante Cleveland will battle for that role. It’s intriguing if they go with 4 TE’s or an extra RB to take up Develin’s spot until he returns. The best bet is on Hoomanawanui, due to his experience and his staple as a great blocker.

Left Guard: With the return of Ryan Wendell, he solidifies at least one side of the offensive line. He will most likely return to his RG spot, where he started last year. Who is the Left Guard? Ryan Groy, Shaq Mason and Josh Kline are all battling for that spot. It would be interesting to see if Groy can step up and take possession due to his stout run blocking during his time in Chicago and his size (6’5, 320). Kline is on the bubble, mainly due the numbers game, but he could sneak in as the starter or the top reserve if he plays well against the Giants.

Cornerback: Probably the most publicized position of need after the off-seasons departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard. It looks like Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler have grabbed the starting spots, but it’ll be interesting to see who takes the last two/three spots. Tarell Brown, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Dax Swanson are all battling for that spot. McClain and Brown look like locks, but if Fletcher shows up here, it could force New England to keep five corners and make another tough cut elsewhere.

53 Man Roster: A simple format of the final projection that could take place. Left out are the players suspended (Not Brady, of course) or on an injured list that could come back. Starter are in bold.

QB: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo.

RB: Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis and James White.

WR: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Reggie Wayne, Chris Harper and Matt Slater.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui and Michael Williams.

OT: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming and Marcus Cannon.

OG: Josh Kline, Ryan Wendell, Shaq Mason and Ryan Groy.

C: Bryan Stork.

DE: Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Zach Moore, Trey Flowers and Geno Grissom.

DT: Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Malcolm Brown

OLB: Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Darius Fleming and Jonathan Freeny.

ILB: Jerod Mayo and James Morris.

CB: Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, Tarell Brown and Robert McClain.

FS: Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon.

SS: Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards and Nate Ebner.

K: Stephen Gostkowski.

P: Ryan Allen.

LS: Joe Cardona.

New England Patriots: James Develin and other Thoughts


There might not be a more unsung member of the Patriots than FB James Develin. The former Ivy Leaguer can play half back, full back and tight end and is a tough, heady player. His injury hurts, but there are silver linings: First, it’s a clean break, so he’ll be out 6-8 weeks. If he was put on the PUP, it means that either the Colts game or the Cowboys game is an option. By moving Michael Hoomanawanui to Fullback will allow a better chance for Asante Cleveland, acquired from San Francisco last week, a better chance to make the team. With that being said, it might have secured Dion Lewis’ roster spot. After a strong game, he is making a strong case to be New England’s third down back. With Brandon Bolden being able to focus on special teams and be a power back in the place of Develin early, the Pats can see if Lewis’ resurgence can carry over into the regular season.

Lewis’ success might have been one of the few bright spots last week on offense, but while the struggles of the offense was disconcerting, there has to be perspective there. Wendell just came back from injury, no Edelman, LaFell or Gronk. Brady looked rusty, but this mimics what happened last year. The offensive line last year was terrible until they started Stork after the Chiefs game and the team took off. There’s a lot of youth on the team and with the pre-season, continuity is an afterthought. It will be a rough first month regardless if Brady plays or not. Keep all that in mind and brace yourself for some struggles.

The defense looked A LOT better, most notably Tarell Brown and Malcolm Butler. Both were stout and made some aggressive plays. They look like the starting tandem going into Week One. With Logan Ryan and Robert McClain as the reserves, the CB position might not be so dire as once was thought. Even if was against the receiving starved Panthers, they showed enough promise to keep going. With how stout the front seven is, this means that the defense will be better than we all thought going into Week One. It’s nice to remember that Hightower and Mayo have just suited up this week, and there’s promise on the field.

All in all, the starters look pretty much set, but Week 4 will determine who will be the 3rd TE and solve the back end of the running back competition. Also, the LG spot is still being battled for between Josh Kline and Ryan Groy. It will be a non-factor for a lot of teams and it’s also nice to think that the Patriots have a mini bye after Week One with the Pats playing on Thursday and not playing until the following Sunday. If there are huge issues after the Pittsburg game, getting an extra 3 days could do wonders for the team.

New England Patriots: Reggie Wayne and Other Thoughts


The Reggie Wayne signing means a few things. First, the Pats aren’t satisfied with the depth at the position. With the starting three players (LaFell, Edelman and Amendola) all nursing injuries, Wayne comes in and add some quality depth. Yes, he isn’t the player he used to be, but he’s smart and knows how to run routes, which is essential in the Patriot offense. With the Jordy Nelson injury, it’s safe to say that if he would have left New England without a contract, he would be quickly snatched up by the Packers or another WR needy team. With Aaron Dobson still enigmatic and two WR put on IR on Monday (Brandon Gibson and Brian Tyms), Wayne can step in and help right away. With promising undrafted WR Chris Harper showing some great signs in these two games, everything behind him is a question. Wayne can be a reliable stop gap while they identify the players who make this offense click.

at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

With James White and Dion Lewis both showing a lot of promise as the passing back, the Pats could be facing some tough decisions. Who will be the winner here? The money is on White due to spending a 4th round pick on the player, but Lewis is looking like the player that he should have been when he was drafted by Philadelphia a few years back. If they keep him, that means they will keep 6 RB’s (Blount, Gray, Lewis, White, Boldin and Develin as a FB). That’s a lot dedicated to one position, but this is something to keep an eye on. The winner will go to the one who is best at pass protection.

To say the defense was underwhelming against New Orleans is an understatement. Even without Jerod Mayo and Dontá Hightower in there, Brees picked apart the first team defense. With 7th rounder CB Darryl Roberts facing a potential season ending wrist injury, the depth behind Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Terrell Brown is rather disconcerting. Expect another addition here as the coaching staff figures who is going to make the team. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that the Devin McCourty time back at corner was as short lived as it was. He isn’t the answer and it might take a few more weeks until they find that out.

Football: NFL Scouting Combine: (L-R) Florida State QB Jameis Winston (QB15) and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (QB11) on field before drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis, IN 2/21/2015 CREDIT: Todd Rosenberg (Photo by Todd Rosenberg /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X159260 TK4 )
Football: NFL Scouting Combine: (L-R) Florida State QB Jameis Winston (QB15) and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (QB11) on field before drills at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis, IN 2/21/2015
CREDIT: Todd Rosenberg (Photo by Todd Rosenberg /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X159260 TK4 )

The teams that picked one and two in this draft are in a rather interesting predicament. Tampa Bay drafting Jameis Winston and Tennessee drafted Marcus Mariotta means that they set at quarterback (for the time being). Their backups are where it gets interesting. QB Zach Mettenberger has been lights out in these two preseason games for the Titans and QB Mike Glennon has looked very good in his playing time playing after Winston in Tampa. With teams facing some rather horrible QB play (Washington and Buffalo come to mind), you might see these quarterbacks go for a nice price. The Drew Brees/Phillip Rivers situation comes to mind. In Brees’ first 3 years in San Diego, he was underwhelming and was inconsistent, prompting the team to draft Eli Manning and then ship him off to the Giants for Phillip Rivers. Somehow, that turned the light on for Brees and his play took off after that. A similar situation could be going on in Tampa and Tennessee. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

With Kelvin Benjamin, Jordy Nelson and Maurkice Pouncey all going down with season ending injuries, the call for a reformation of the pre-season is already in play. The preseason isn’t to blame for the Nelson and Benjamin injuries since they happened on non-contact plays. The point of pre-season isn’t for the starters, it’s for the bottom half of the roster. It’s usually to figure out a few starting positions and your bench. Without them, it would be hard to field the best team come September. Although the injuries are unfortunate, they are inevitable in any sport, especially football. This is an opportunity to see who can step up in these players’ absences. That’s the real fun of football right there, to figure out who want’s it more and who becomes a star in spite of these circumstances. Silver linings are always there. All Patriots fans know this…

Deconstructing the AFC East: The Jets

<> at Ford Field on August 13, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.

There might not have been a team that gained more attention this off-season than the Jets. With a new coach, new GM and a plethora of new talent, they have been touted as the most likely team to unseat the Patriots. Even more so, to make a legitimate Super Bowl run. They are a team that can cause concern for Pats fans as well as the rest of the NFL.

Why Pats fans should be concerned:

With the additions of new coach Todd Bowles, the Jets gain another brilliant defensive coach that had some exceptional squads in Arizona over the past few years. They spent a lot of money on improving their talent depleted roster. On offense, the biggest acquisition was Brandon Marshall, who, with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, give them a dynamic trio with Kerley manning the slot. They added RB’s Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy to challenge Chris Ivory. They will be able to pound the rock as good as anyone.

Defense, they have a ton of talent. Although the loss of Sheldon Richardson for 4 games (and probably the year, still undecided), having stud DL Leonard Williams fall to them was a coup. Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the best 3-4 DL linemen in the league and NT Damon Harrison is a massive force. The biggest acquisition was Darelle Revis. He is arguably the best CB in the game (as we know) and with other free agent DB’s Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist gives them an entirely new look on defense. This team is just stacked with talent. But…

Why Pats fans shouldn’t be concerned:

With a new coach, there are bound to be growing pains. Especially in his first head coaching job. With QB Geno Smith already knocked out for 10 weeks, it shows that there is a general discord in the locker room due to the lack of retaliation and reaction after, by both coaches and players alike. This doesn’t bode well for chemistry. Relying on journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick is not something that can make anyone truly happy here. He did have his best success under OC Chan Gailey in Buffalo, but that was also 4 years ago. He has struggled in his stints in Tennessee and Houston. It doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. Also, the offensive line is aging and is under-performing. There might not be a better center in the game than Nick Mangold. But, he’s 31 as is D’Brickshaw Ferguson, who underperformed last year. Free Agent G James Carpenter is mostly just a run blocker and can’t pass block well at all. They have a lack of talent on the other spots that could get this team in trouble.

<> at Ford Field on August 13, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.

With the suspension of Richardson, the Jets are in a tough spot. Williams was a stud in college, will that translate in the NFL? Also, relying on 34 year old Calvin Pace and Quentin Coples, who is more of a run stopping OLB, as their pass rushers is concerning. David Harris looked slow last year at his ILB position. They didn’t really do anything to improve the linebacking corps other than the drafting of Lorenzo Mauldin in the 3rd round. Also, the logic of paying that much money to 2 CB’s like Revis and Cromartie, who are over 30 is a little mind boggling. Gilchrist wasn’t that good in San Diego, so I’m not sure how good he’ll be in New York.

What does all this mean? There is a TON of uncertainty in New York. On one hand, you have a ton of talent that, on paper, looks poised to make a run. But, you can already see that there are things lining up in a bad way for New York. From Richardson’s drag race through a neighborhood to Smith getting punched in the face, the dark clouds are definitely on the horizon for this franchise.

Deconstructing the AFC East: The Dolphins


The Dolphins are probably the most stable team in the division outside of the Patriots. They have the pieces in place to make a substantial run, but there are some serious questions that the team hasn’t answered. Should the Patriots be afraid of being dethroned by the Dolphins? Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses and decide:

Why should the Patriots be afraid: On offense, Joe Philbin has given the reigns over to QB Ryan Tannehill and have signed him to a large extension (6 year, 95 million) as a sign of good faith. He has improved every year and threw for over 4,000 yards last year. The Dolphins acquired WR Kenny Stills in a trade, signed TE Jordan Cameron and drafted WR DaVante Parker in the first round to improve his weapons. Second year Jarvis Landry looks like a future stud and adding a healthy Lamar Miller gives him a capable runner.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

On defense is where the strength is. There might not be a more underrated and dangerous player outside of Cameron Wake and to add one of the best defensive tackles in DT Ndamukong Suh gives them a dangerous duo to team up with steady DE Olivier Vernon. This is a dangerous defensive line that can wreak havoc across the line. CB Brett Grimes is an incredibly talented CB that teams up with probably the most underrated safety in the game with Reshad Jones. He is solid against the run and is excellent in coverage. These core players are the keys to a dominant defense that has the potential to carry them far.

Why shouldn’t the Patriots be afraid: Despite the optimism, there are some glaring holes that the pundits aren’t really addressing. When it comes to the offense, Tannehill might be overpaid, but he produces enough to warrant his new contract. With that, they have only solid offensive line starter with C Mike Pouncey. LT Brandon Albert is 30 and is coming off a major knee injury. Last year’s rookie RT Ja’Wuan James was overwhelmed and they have no real proven starter at either Guard spot. It doesn’t matter who is playing QB, RB or WR, if they can’t protect Tannehill, they are going nowhere. Lamar Miller has trouble staying healthy and they don’t have proven depth behind him. This means that is truly ALL on Tannehill’s shoulders and if you have watched him play, you can question why the team would do that.

On defense, there are some huge holes that they haven’t addressed. The back 7 leaves a lot to be desired. They have a promising LB in Jelani Jenkins and a solid starter with MLB Koa Misi, but they are both unproven and there isn’t a starter outside of him. Grimes is a great corner, but he’s 32. How much longer can he play at an elite level? Also, who is playing opposite him? Right now, their biggest acquisition was slot CB Brice McCain. That’s not the most encouraging sign for anyone. FS Louis Delmas has shown flashes but can’t stay healthy and is coming off an ACL tear.

What does all this mean? There’s obvious talent there in Miami, but it’s too lofty to expect much more than .500 for this team. There is a lot of holes on this team and questions aplenty across the offensive line, secondary and line-backing corps. If they get these resolved, they are definitely a team to be reckoned with, but are still most likely a year away.