Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AFC East

Right, I think I've recovered from the puke fest that was the Hall of Fame game. Time to carry on whizzing briefly around NFL training camps by heading to the AFC East. Buffalo Bills As a general rule, teams are supposed to use the off season to get better. The Bills instead elected to dump Aaron Schobel, thus nullifying some of the gain made by their sole decent draft pick, C.J. Spiller. The focus for the Bills defense in training camp has to be defending the run. The scary thing is, the Bills were one of the best teams against the pass last year. I'm not joking, go and check it out for yourself. Statistically speaking the Bills were up there among the very best in the league. Trouble is, they leaked yardage on the ground. Against the Jets that Leak became a flood. So the first order of business is to tighten up and get stingy against the run. Second is to fix that offense. To be honest the Bills don't exactly have a receiver corps that inspires dread. Neither does their QB. At RB Fred Jackson did well last year and with C.J. Spiller in to add depth, I imagine the Bills will lean on their running game this year until Head Coach Chan Gailey can get his scheme in place, then come back roaring in 2011. Miami Dolphins Offensively the Dolphins are over flowing with talent. They have running backs galore, an under rated O-line, an under rated receiving corps and a promising QB. Defensively.... Yeah ok, some problems. Namely that Joey Porter and Jason Taylor are gone with only Karlos Dansby coming in to replace them. I like the second round pick of Koa Misi, but it's asking a lot for him to be a day 1 starter. I'm just worried as to where the sacks are going to come from? For the offense I think it's all about building on the groundwork laid in the passing game last year. Hopefully without sacrificing their biggest strength, which was Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. But I'd like to see Henne progress. Defensively, the 'phins need to bring the pressure under new D-coordinator Mike Nolan. There's potential in there somewhere, it's just a question of whether Nolan can coax it out of them. The linebacking corps in particular need to let their presence be felt, so expect Nolan to be on their case big time. New England Patriots Much of the Patriots season hinges on two key aspects; Wes Welker and the defense. Welker is the oil that allows the Patriots machine to run smoothly. After his knee injury, it's still up in the air as to whether we will see the old Wes Welker again. If we do, it'll go a long way to helping the Patriots make it back to the play offs in 2010. As possible cover for an under par Welker, the Patriots have stocked themselves nicely with Tight Ends through the draft and free agency. But the real killer is the defense. After the 4th down debacle against the Colts, many (including me) suggested that it was a sign Belichick had lost faith in his D. Well this off season is the perfect time for them to work their way back into his favour. There's been a lot of talk, mainly from the Patriots players themselves about a lack of direction and leadership, so it's important for the veterans to stand up and be counted throughout camp. Then the Pats need to find a pass rush. The loss of Richard Seymour has been obvious. Holding on to free agent Tully Banta-Cain helped, but now the rest of that front seven has to find a new gear for a new year. New York Jets The more I think about the Jets, the more I can't help but feel they're about to nose dive in spectacular fashion. It's not even the Revis thing. If he has any common sense, he'll play. But you just look up and down the roster and you see holes. You see Antonio Cromartie, who can cover the pass but refuses to pull the trigger against the run. You see the likely hood that rookie Kyle Wilson will have to step in day one and make an impact (though if any rookie DB in the league is going to, Wilson has the best shot). You look at the offense and you say ok, you got Mark Sanchez, but who's he throwing to? Braylon "oops I dropped it" Edwards? Coles? Clowney? Cotchery? Santonio Holmes will be missing for the first four games. Then you look at the run game. Granted the O-line for the Jets is immense. They can shift people. But Thomas Jones is gone. Shonne Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson are the primary ball carriers for the year ahead. Both are good, but can either carry the full load like Jones did? So many questions, so few answers spring to mind. At least the O and D lines are sound, the safety position is nicely wrapped up and the Linebacking corps are in pretty good shape. But without those good corners, Rex Ryans pressure heavy scheme will come undone. And with the offense the Jets are touting right now, I think they'll find it difficult to play catch up. The focus has to be life without Revis. That means perhaps a more laid back, zone coverage orientated approach to the defense. Which in all likely hood, isn't going to happen. Offensively I think the Jets could stretch their wings a little more with Sanchez in his second year. I imagine they will use training camp to find ways of getting their receivers more involved in the action than they were in 2009 and hopefully someone will teach Braylon not to hold his hands so close to his face mask when he's catching over the shoulder throws. Have a great day everyone.

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