Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» OFI: SEC Surprises

In an opening week where even the elite teams in college football looked mortal, the SEC had two big surprises in Texas A&M and Georgia defeating their South Carolinian opponents by big scores.

20 Feb 2008

Four Downs: AFC East

by Sean McCormick

Buffalo Bills

Three Imaginary (Front Office) Boys

The biggest news in Buffalo is not the passing of another season without a playoff appearance (eight such years in a row now), or even the unexpected re-retirement of general manager Marv Levy. It's the ominous news that the team will begin playing home games in Toronto. The Bills will play five regular season games and three preseason games in the Rogers Centre over the next five seasons. Owner Ralph Wilson has been quick to insist that the decision is not a precursor to franchise relocation, but rather an attempt to strengthen the team's Canadian fan base and to draw Canadian corporate sponsorship to Ralph Wilson Stadium. However, with Ted Rogers, the owner of the Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre, leading an investment group looking to bring an NFL franchise to Toronto, and with the Bills set to be sold to the highest bidder after Wilson's death, it would seem more likely that this represents Wilson's attempt to keep the team in the region after he dies.

Speaking of wizened old men, Levy decided to pack it in after two years, adding a curious postscript to his impressive legacy with the team. Levy was considered a questionable choice when he was hired, but he picked a competent coach in Dick Jauron, presided over two modestly impressive drafts, and made some decent free agent decisions. There is no question that the Bills are better now than they were three years ago, but it remains to be seen if they have added enough pieces to return to playoff contention. Wilson is retiring the general manager position altogether; Russ Brandon will act as chief operating officer, while John Guy and Tom Modrak will handle the bulk of the personnel decisions.

The first decision that they need to make is what to do about the quarterback situation. If only all decisions were so easy. Our numbers suggest that J.P. Losman was actually a bit more effective than Trent Edwards, but considering that Edwards was a rookie and Losman only plays one on television, it's clear where the upside lies. Edwards showed a marked preference for short, safe passes -- at times he looked like Tom Brady before Tom Brady became *Tom Brady!* -- but even so, his completion percentage hovered around 57 percent on the season. Edwards' accuracy was questioned when he arrived in the NFL from Stanford, and he's going to have to improve in that department if he is going to be successful over the long haul.

Who Could Leave?

Losman has made it known that he would rather be traded than play out the final year of his contract, but that's not likely to happen. He wouldn't have much trade value even in a weak year for quarterbacks, and it's cheaper to keep him on the roster than to go out and find a veteran backup in free agency. Peerless Price ended the year with a grand total of 13 receptions and a sterling –13.8% DVOA. He's finished in Buffalo and, most probably, on his way out of the league. Jason Webster opened the season at one of the starting corner spots, but he is an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return. The rest of the impending free agents are strictly reserve types.

Who Should They Sign?

(49 players signed, $32.5 million under the cap)

Despite seeming to be perfectly average — Buffalo ranked 16th in DVOA against both the run and the pass — the Bills managed to give up an average of 33.92 yards per drive, worst in the league, so the defense figures to be an area that is targeted for improvement. Buffalo has a lot of money to play with, and they could make a run at several of the top-tier cornerbacks, with Marcus Trufant and Asante Samuel seemingly the best fits. Terrence McGee was able to step in and take over for the departed Nate Clements last season, but the team had a terrible time covering No. 2 receivers, so adding a top corner and shifting McGee back to the No. 2 spot could close the coverage gap. Defensive tackle was a need area even before Anthony Hargrove decided to go out and get himself suspended for the season, and someone like Green Bay's Corey Williams would fit the mold.

On the offensive side of the ball, a big, physical receiver like D.J. Hackett would make a lot of sense. Hackett would give Trent Edwards a bigger target in the short passing game, and would also allow Josh Reed to return to the slot.

Miami Dolphins

In Between Days

When NFL Films is putting together the yearbook for the 2007 Dolphins, they may want to entitle it "Well, that was awkward." It could begin with Cam Cameron being booed at the podium after announcing the team just passed on Brady Quinn to draft Ted Ginn, Jr., and then quickly fade to black. The remaining 20 minutes would consist of Bill Parcells yelling at people.

The good news for Dolphins fans is that it they only had to endure one year of horrendous football before luring Parcells their way; he usually takes two or three years off between gigs. The bad news is that he isn't actually coaching the team -- Tony Sparano is -- so it's unclear if the Dolphins can expect the same kind of immediate improvement that Parcells brought to the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. Sparano came over from Dallas, where he served as offensive line coach, and while he has a terrific reputation, he's still a first-time head coach with all the uncertainty that the term connotes. He does have the benefit of a quality staff and front office, as the Dolphins have opened the doors to the usual cadre of ex-Parcells guys to come in and work their makeover magic.

The first order of business will be to overhaul the defense. As the Oakland Raiders discovered in 2003, when a dominant unit gets old, things tend to go bad all at once. Miami's defense dropped from seventh overall in 2006 to dead last in the league in 2007. They were 28th in DVOA against the pass and 31st against the run. The pass coverage was poor almost across the board. The pass rush remained reasonably effective, but they were behind so often, they were rarely in position to benefit from it. Instead, they were stuck defending against the run, and the results were disastrous. Only the Jets posted a worse Adjusted Line Yards than Miami's 4.57 mark, and the number rose to 5.54 and 5.33 for runs off left end and left tackle, respectively. It may be a passing league, but a team needs to meet a minimum degree of competence at run defense, and last year the Dolphins didn't even approach it.

So what now? Sparano insisted in his introductory press conference that he has no intention of imposing a defense that does not fit the personnel, but last year's problem wasn't the scheme, it was the players executing it. Instead of trying to massage better performances out of the guys on hand, expect the team to try to quickly turn over the roster in favor of players who fit Parcells' favored 3-4 alignment.

Who Could Leave?

Parcells and new general manager Jeff Ireland saved us some guesswork by getting a head start on the roster makeover. They have already released nine players, including former starters Zach Thomas, Trent Green, Marty Booker, Keith Traylor, and L.J. Shelton. Of that group, only Green has an outside chance to come back at a reduced salary. That leaves Jason Taylor as the last holdover from the Jimmy Johnson era, but it's unclear just how long Taylor will hold that distinction. It's not that Taylor is no longer playing at a high level or that he doesn't fit the defense; on the contrary, he's still playing very well and has the skill set to be a dominant edge rusher in either a 4-3 or a 3-4. He's also the team's most tradeable commodity, and you can expect him to be dangled in exchange for draft picks.

Guard Rex Hadnot and safety Yeremiah Bell are free agents, and it's likely the team will make an effort to retain both of them; Hadnot may even get a franchise tag to make sure he stays put while the front office tries to hammer out a long-term deal. On the other side of the spectrum is linebacker Joey Porter, who was predictably unsatisfactory in his first year in orange and teal. The Dolphins have the cap room to absorb the hit of cutting Porter, and they may well be inclined to do so.

Who Should They Sign?

(48 players signed, $35.56 million under the cap)

Cowboys. Lots and lots of Cowboys. Flozell Adams, Julius Jones, Ken Hamlin, Jacques Reeves, and Keith Davis are all unrestricted free agents, and it's likely that the team will actively pursue several of them. The Cowboys will probably release Terry Glenn, and he would be a favorite to land in Miami as well. The team would love to obtain Marion Barber or Chris Canty, but they would likely balk at the first-round compensation such a move would require.

(Bad editor. Naughty, naughty editor. This originally said Patrick Crayton, but he re-signed with the Cowboys during the season. Should have caught that. -- Aaron)

New England Patriots

Disintegration

There have been several attempts to put the Patriots' season into some sort of historical context. For a long time, 2007 was looking like a re-run of 1995, when Dallas and San Francisco towered over the rest of the league. In the early 1990s, regular season games between the two teams were like playoff games. Their playoff games were de facto Super Bowls. Dallas had enjoyed more success, but San Francisco finally got past them in 1994, spurring the Cowboys sign a future Hall of Famer to tip the scales back in their favor. And then, just when the whole country was gearing up for another epic playoff showdown, the new kids on the block, the Packers, walked into Candlestick and beat the 49ers, wrecking everything. Replace Dallas with New England, San Francisco with Indianapolis and Green Bay with San Diego, and the match seemed almost perfect. Or at least it did until the Super Bowl, at which point 2007 started looking a whole lot more like 2001. Now the Patriots have become the Rams, a seemingly unbeatable offensive juggernaut that -- like much of the rest of the country -- underestimated a gritty opponent that had played them tough in the regular season. The Patriots came out flat, were slow to make adjustments, finally woke up and clawed their way back into contention late, only to give up a final scoring drive in the waning seconds of the game and lose.

The Cowboys managed to win their championship, while the Rams famously came up short. Each team was tabbed as the favorite to win the Super Bowl in the following season. But they were both done, their windows closed. The Patriots have just come off one of the most dominant stretches in NFL history. They go into next season as 4/1 favorites to hoist the Lombardi trophy. It's entirely possible that they will. But it doesn't take much for the window to slam shut; it's something the team's front office may want to keep in mind as they tinker with the roster this off-season.

Who Could Leave?

At the end of 2006, the Patriots decided to toss out the Patriots Way textbook and pursue a championship the old fashioned way: by throwing money at anything that moved. Now, like every other team that has taken that approach, they have to pay the piper.

The dominating passing attack could be losing most of its receivers. Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney are unrestricted free agents. Donte Stallworth is owed an $8 million roster bonus in February and will undoubtedly be cut if he does not agree to a new contract. Special teams ace Kelley Washington is also due a $4 million bonus, and if the Patriots refuse to pay it, he will also hit free agency. Of that group, Moss is clearly the priority. Moss has indicated that he would like to remain in New England, but it remains to be seen if he will accept a below-market rate contract to do so, and the team may not want to risk alienating the enigmatic receiver by placing the franchise tag on him.

Assuming Moss returns, the offense should be fine. The bigger questions are on a defense that faded noticeably over the course of the season. The Pats had the 9th best defense in football according to DVOA, but they were only 18th in weighted DVOA. They were much better against the pass than against the run. They struggled to cover tight ends, and they were weak in power run situations. A lot of that can be attributed to the aging trio of Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau, and Rodney Harrison. Bruschi and Seau are unrestricted free agents, and while Harrison is still under contract, the team may want to replace him with a younger, faster safety. In the secondary, Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel, and Randall Gay are all unrestricted free agents. Samuel is a player the team would very much like to retain, but they don't realistically have the cap space to compete for him on the open market. When a player has "Get Paid" tattooed onto his arm, it stands to reason that he's going to follow the money, in all likelihood straight to Eric Mangini and the Jets. The Pats will likely let Samuel walk and try to lock up Gay for a more reasonable contract, but even that is no sure thing, as Gay will be very attractive to teams that miss out on the Samuel derby.

Who Should They Sign?

(41 players signed, $10.93 million under the cap)

New England is going to have a difficult time re-signing their own players, so they shouldn't be expected to be major players in the free agent market. They do need to get younger in the back seven, so you can expect the team to look at linebackers and safeties. 28-year-old Victor Hobson is one possible low-cost addition at linebacker. Safeties like Yeremiah Bell and Erik Coleman might be attractive options to bolster depth. The Pats have shown interest in Calvin Pace as a potential rush-backer, and that interest figures to intensify if the team parts ways with Rosevelt Colvin. New England will likely also trawl for a few veteran players who are ready to sign cheap in exchange for a shot at a championship. They've already offered a contract to Zach Thomas, and are expected to show some interest in Marty Booker as well.

New York Jets

Wild Mood Swings

When you are two years into a rebuilding process, one playoff appearance is generally considered proof that you're ahead of schedule. Unless, that is, the playoff appearance happened in Year One and was followed up by a 4-12 disaster. So what happened? Well, for starters, the 2006 Jets weren't all that good; they posted a 10-6 record, but their Estimated Wins were only 7.6, so some regression was inevitable. Going from the 20th schedule in the league to the hardest only exacerbated matters. They were almost symmetrically bad, posting an offensive DVOA of –10.8% and a defensive DVOA of 10.9%. The offensive line was a particular sore spot, as the team finished 28th in rushing, 30th in adjusted sack rate, and they were successful in only 50 percent of their power rushing situations. The defense was as bad as ever against the run, posting a league-worst 4.88 Adjusted Line Yards number, the worst stuff rate, and the 30th power success rate.

Despite all that, it's hard not to look at the rosters of the two teams and conclude that the 2007 Jets were more talented than the 2006 version. They upgraded from Kevan Barlow to Thomas Jones at running back, they added two of the top defensive players in the draft in Darrelle Revis and David Harris, and they got good production from Kenyon Coleman, their big free agent addition. On the other hand, the team was (to put it mildly) unable to compensate for the loss of Pete Kendall, and this had a ripple effect on virtually the entire offense.

Few offenses in recent memory have been less vertical than this one, and much of the blame for that has been placed at the feet (and arm) of Chad Pennington. It was assumed that the team couldn't run because defenses could stack the box without fear of being beaten over the top. That was a slight misreading of the situation; teams were stacking the box to take away Pennington's short passing game, which was just about the only way the Jets were able to move the ball. Pennington was benched midseason in favor of Kellen Clemens in an attempt to loosen up defenses, but the move was only partially successful. Clemens boosted the yards per reception up from 9.86 to 11.76, but the team's yards per attempt dropped from 6.79 to 6.12, thanks to Clemens' accuracy issues. With two quarterbacks on the roster with such different skill-sets, it's going to be difficult to know what sort of offensive players to target.

Who Could Leave?

Jonathan Vilma is almost certain to be traded. Vilma has terrific speed, range and intelligence, but he's just not equipped to play in Mangini's 3-4 defense. Despite his struggles, Vilma should be in high demand among teams that play a Tampa-2. Fellow linebacker Victor Hobson is an unrestricted free agent, and the team has made no serious effort to re-sign him. Safety Erik Coleman flashed talent as a rookie but never regained his form; he spent last year rotating with Eric Smith and Abram Elam, and it's unlikely he'll return. Hank Poteat might be invited back depending on how the depth at cornerback looks in training camp.

After some initial hesitation, it appears that the Jets want to bring Pennington back to compete for the starting quarterback spot in training camp. Should Pennington put pressure on the team, however, they may try to move him in a trade or grant him his release. At wide receiver, Justin McCareins has been a tremendous disappointment and figures to be released or pawned off for a low draft pick.

Who Should They Sign?

(45 players signed, $27.72 million under the cap)

What the Jets really need are interior linemen and linebackers, but the market doesn't look especially promising. A guard like Jacob Bell would represent a major upgrade over Adrien Clarke, but he will take big money to sign, even though he is an average starter, not a dominant player. It might make more sense to invest that money in a quality right tackle like Sean Locklear and then address the guard position in the draft. If New York is committed to opening up the downfield passing game, they might want to pursue a vertical target for Clemens, with both Bernard Berrian and Bryant Johnson fitting the mold.

Expect the Jets to make serious runs at both Asante Samuel and Randall Gay. Samuel looks to be the premiere defensive player available, and he would make a terrific bookend with Revis. Gay would be a solid fallback option, and signing him would help weaken rival New England. The Jets are also in desperate need of a quality edge rusher, and with Terrell Suggs franchised, Calvin Pace stands out as a likely possibility.

*All projected cap numbers courtesy of www.askthecommish.com. These numbers are "ballpark" and are subject to change. The intention is to give an approximate idea of each team's available resources before free agency and the draft begin.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 20 Feb 2008

67 comments, Last at 26 Feb 2008, 4:39pm by PatsFan

Comments

1
by The Original Omar (not verified) :: Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:33pm

Patrick Crayton is not a free agent - he got a new deal during the season.

2
by asg (not verified) :: Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:37pm

I thought Patrick Crayton signed a 3 year deal during the season. Was it voided somehow?

3
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:50pm

Any reason why each team's lead section is titled a song by The Cure? :)

4
by Aaron (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:11am

Asante Samuel does not have "Get Paid" tatooed on him -- that's a myth and frankly I'm surprised to read it here. His tatoo says "Get Rich To This" and it's a crunk song that he liked when he was at UCF.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asante_Samuel

5
by Will (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:24am

I hope they follow this poetic trend, and write PFP entirely in haiku:

Manning throws to Clark
24 DPAR
If Ugoh is there

6
by Dr. Mooch (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:45am

Um . . . Anthony Hargrove is a DE.

7
by Sergio (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:47am

Whoa.

Rex Hadnot the franchise tag? All due respect, Sean, I love you guys, but are you $#%&! kidding me? Rex Hadnot might as well get waived outright; he doesn't have nearly enough of a skill set, nor the natural talent, to be signed to a juicy long term deal. I'd be surprised if he got more than a three year deal, but franchised?

I want a couple pounds (or a gallon, if applicable) of whatever you're having, and I want you to keep it away from R. Williams. Seriously.

SERIOUSLY!

8
by Sergio (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:49am

And by "[neither the] skill set, nor the natural talent", I of course mean "the technique, nor the natural talent".

Stupid typing when you're flabbergasted...

9
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:04am

If the Cure references carry over to the NFC East, can we expect (The ball on) The Head on the Door for the Giants?

10
by ian (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:12am

as a jets fan, i hope the pats do sign victor hobson. as a matter of fact, they can have vilma and barton too.

personally, i don't see tangini signing assante samuel for big money. they have been completely uninterested in spending real money on free agents.

11
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:20am

I assume that Calvin Pace will be mentioned as a possible edge rusher for every 3-4 team. It does seem like he'll be leaving Arizona as they have Okeafor and they're trying to bring back Bert Berry (what is it with americans and alliterative names?).

Whoever gets Pace will probably have to overpay him.

12
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:56am

Donte Stallworth is owed an $8 million roster bonus in February and will undoubtedly be cut if he does not agree to a new contract.

This is a bit wrong: Stallworth has a $6M option bonus, plus a $2M roster bonus three days later (I think, the amounts might be different. Point is still the same).

If Stallworth's option isn't picked up, he's not 'cut' - his contract terminates.

There's no real option there - either the Patriots pay $6M, or Stallworth's a free agent. They can't renegotiate his contract before then. According to PFT - take that with as much credit as you will - they've already said they won't pick up Stallworth's option.

13
by BillB (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 3:18am

No mention of Brady? People here think outside the box, so its worth mentioning: succession should be a serious consideration. He put up the best season imaginable, and couldn't get it done. He's got an ankle issue that won't go away and will turn him in into an old QB fast. His playmakers are unlikely to be better than '07, and with age & personnel loss on the defense, there will be more, rather than less, pressure on the O to compensate. It is more of a problem than just an overrated O-line. Since their regular season is a cakewalk, I think they should focus on getting younger playmakers on D, but thats expensive, and it seems they're doing the opposite. So reassessing from the top down is appropriate, just as with any rebuilding club. Colt Brennan is dropping very nicely....

14
by Tom D (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 6:03am

Brady is 30 years old, in normal QB career ark, he would have just hit his prime and have about 3-4 of playing time before he started to regress.

15
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 6:19am

13:

The Pats just went 18-1. Don't you think it might be just a tad premature to call this a "rebuilding" team?

Also, yes, while they might have some problems that need to be addressed, is QB really that urgent of a need on the Pats? I think that is just about the last position they need to worry about for now.

16
by BishopMVP (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 6:22am

#13 - Yeah, that Tom Brady guy was the problem in that failed season they just had. NFL MVP, best DPAR ever for a QB, most points scored in history by an offense behind what even you acknowledge was an overrated offensive line, missing out on a Super Bowl and undefeated season only due to the greatest catch in NFL history by David Tyree - yeah let's blame the QB.

If we're going to go outside the box, let's look at the Pats taking an OT at 7 rather than a CB.

17
by Mwana Uta (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 6:40am

Jets fans, what do you guys think of D'Brickashaw Ferguson after two full seasons as a starter? I found it hard to get a read on the guy from only watching a handful of games, I saw him own some very decent ends and then play crap against some relative jobbers. It doesn't seem to me like he's about to live up to his extremely lofty pre-draft billing, but what do you guys reckon?

18
by fogarty (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 7:30am

"When NFL Films is putting together the yearbook for the 2007 Dolphins, they may want to entitle it “Well, that was awkward.” It could begin with Cam Cameron being booed at the podium after announcing the team just passed on Brady Quinn to draft Ted Ginn, Jr., and then quickly fade to black. The remaining 20 minutes would consist of Bill Parcells yelling at people" You know, I would pay good money to see that.

19
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 7:35am

18:

Can we just pretend it never happened, instead?

20
by Tom D (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 7:39am

Can I still get 20 minutes of Bill Parcells yelling at people?

21
by Sergio (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 8:26am

Yes, you can. It's a show called "In their own words"...

re:16

I don't think the Pats going after an OT is thinking outside the box. It may be in the edges of the box (particularly considering their defensive decay), but it's still within reason - their interior linemen rule, but the outside guys range from below average to above average depending on the competition, so it stands to reason they pick up someone to either push them or directly take the spot from someone.

Can you imagine Brady/Moss with an elite LT? Yeah, I'm going to be sick, thank you very much...

22
by JFP (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 8:28am

I'm with you #13. I was calling for the Matt Cassel era to begin in the second half of the SB. Time to make the move. I'm sure the Pats could get a first round pick, and possible a second and third rounder thrown in for Brady.

23
by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 10:04am

Here's hoping Trent Edwards is the next Brady and not the next Todd Collins, Billy Joe Hobert, Rob Johnson, Alex Van Pelt, or JP Losman (Flutie and Bledsoe were actually good).

That's really all I have to say. I want to believe the Patriots will decline, but it's too hard to imagine.

24
by Dom (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 10:28am

#21

I'm not so sure about the Patriots needing new tackles. To my mind the biggest problem of the Super Bowl wasn't the tackles, it was Justin Tuck repeatedly beating Logan Mankins, who isn't just the Patriots' best lineman but one of the top two or three best guards in the league.

25
by goathead (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 10:39am

I think its a safe bet that BB will try to trade that #7 pick for a lower 1st round & 2nd rounder (or even 2 2nds). Not saying he'll necessarily be able to, but I don't think the salaries demanded by top 10 picks fit into the system.

The reality is with Samuel gone the Pats are looking at a team like the classic chargers teams. No doubt they'll be loading up on D.

I think the big question is whether they can continue to get free agents to sign undervalued contracts in order to get their shot at a title - the answer is likely yes, but time will tell.

26
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 10:51am

I wouldn't call it 'out of the box' for the Pats to draft an OT at seven. They could get decent value there, although Gholston might take a lot of ignoring - whether they take him or not probably depends on how maleable Colvin is in restructuring his contract, if Colvin stays they will have top OLBs signed up for three or four years.

The only question mark in my mind is whether or not it is a good idea to spend a top ten pick on a RT. Light is the wrong kind of lineman to move over to RT, I would go so far as to say that he is the rare player who makes a better LT than RT. He has always moved well for his size but can lack power. A lot of people have said they think the Pats will trade down, it wouldn't shock me to see them trade up as Long would be a perfect fit for this team.

Although when Samuel walks Hobbs and Gay would make a fairly poor CB tandem, and I have no idea who is behind them. The rest of the defensive backfield doesn't exactly inspire fear so safety could well require attention on draft day too.

Everyone is assuming Moss is staying but it isn't guaranteed yet - no tag as of Thursday morning. Would tagging (and pissing off) Moss be wise? Would Welker and Gaffney be nearly as succesful without Randy scaring defensive coordinators? Personally I would take the Pats informing Stallworth that he won't be retained as an indication of a verbal agreement between Moss and the Pats, although they might just not think Stallworth is worth an $8m bonus.

27
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 11:46am

Unless the comments are tongue in cheek, I would go as far as to say anyone who seriously thinks the Brady era is over, or that they should trade Brady, is completely ignorant about the game of football and should never voice their opinion again.

Peyton Manning won the MVP award a few years ago, having the sort of record setting year Brady had this year, and he didn't win the Super Bowl. Guess what? He still plays at that high level, and he is older than Brady.

He won the Super Bowl last year, you might not have heard about it. And Brady would have won it this year had any one of the many plays gone differently.

I'm just hoping people are joking, because if serious, I am worried about their mental health.

28
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:14pm

27:

Well, already responded that I thought the idea was silly. But the more I think about it, the more I like it. Brady is clearly over the hill. The Pats would do well to draft a replacement, and get the replacement starting right away. That of course means they should cut Brady, as there is no sense in paying him all that money just to ride the bench. I propose a solution though. They could trade him to my team, and actually get something in return for him! I know I know, why would I want that bum on my team. Well the truth is, I am just trying to help out. :)

29
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:43pm

Dear New England,

Please Trade us your biurned-out, over-the-hill mediocre starting QB. We'll even let you have the #1 pick for him.

Signed,

The Miami Dolphins.

Now that that particular piece of idiocy is out of the way, does anyone think a 1st rounder for Jayson Taylor is out of the question?

30
by pound4pound (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:45pm

#17: Jets fans are pretty split on D'Brick so far. Some feel he's been a disappointment for a top-5 pick - he really struggles to get a push in the running game, and as you mentioned, he was somewhat inconsistent in pass protection as well. Others (incl me) think he's been very solid against top rushing ends, and that a lot of his mistakes are at least partly because he's next to Adrian "Turnstile" Clarke at LG.

If we can get a decent LG in free agency to plug between Ferguson and Nick Mangold, I think both of those guys will look much better.

31
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:59pm

29: That is exactly what I had in mind for Brady!

But seriously though, I don't think a first is out of the question for Taylor. I am not sure if they will get it though.

I think Miami has some leverage in this situation though; this isn't like previous situations they were in where they had to basically take whatever they could get (Ugunleye, Surtain, etc.). While I think trading him is a wise decision, if they aren't going to get fair value for him, fuck it, let's keep him.

32
by Sergio (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 12:59pm

re: 29

I think it's totally out of the question. Who the hell is Jayson Taylor?

Now, Jason Taylor? That guy could haul in a first, sure. Break my heart at the same time, too. But yeah, he can probably get the Dolphins a first. And he deserves to play for a winner.

As sad as that might be.

James, what do you think about this Rex Hadnot nonsense? I thought it might've been a typo, but the talk is similar in Dolphins' forums... I simply cannot think of him as anything but average... and that's being kind, in some respects.

33
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:11pm

32:

You know, this is truly a sign of just how bad the Dolphins are. Normally, I would just hate to lose a guy like Taylor. I mean, he has been one of my favorite players for a long time now. But we suck so bad, I almost hope he leaves, so he can actually get a shot at winning something.

34
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:56pm

Dom,

My impression (granted, watching through very biased and emotional eyes) was that it wasn't Mankins so much that Tuck was abusing, but Koppen. I think TMQ? (Or maybe it was Peter King) was right about that--Koppen didn't seem to know what to do with someone as athletic and mobile as Tuck. I think a lot of the time that we saw Tuck blow past Mankins it was because Mankins was supposed to be working to his outside and Koppen was supposed to cover the inside gap, and he couldn't.

Of course, without knowing the line calls or studying the coaches film we can't be sure.

35
by pete (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:57pm

I find it disheartening that the Jets still need an edge rusher after spending 3 first round picks in 2 years on DE's, although Bryan 'US' Thomas has at least shown signs of compentence. Is there any chance they will trade their first round pick for a worthless Tight end that wont be on the team a year later?

36
by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 1:58pm

The Dolphins can go in one of two directions: If Parcells thinks last years draft got them the QB, WR of the future to go with their franchise RB then clearly they should focus on getting younger on defense in this draft. Particularly since it will take another 2 seasons for Beck and Ginn to hit whatever is their potential. So both units may come together at the same time in year 2 or 3. However if Parcells doesn't believe in the offensive skilled positions he has on hand, then this draft is probably going to look a lot like the last draft. Until Parcells uses that # 1 pick we probably won't know what he actually thinks of the talent he has. (Although one thing I think is safe to say. He hated the OT's he inherited as 4 have already been cut!)

37
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 2:03pm

Re: 29

No, 34 year old DEs that have flirted with retirement just aren't going to bring a first round picks in trade. Taylor is a great player and may continue to perform at this level for a few more years, but there's no guarantee of that.

The risk of injury, performance decline, or retirement are just too high.

38
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 2:09pm

No mention of the Jets being potentially interested in two Steeler FAs that would seem to fit their needs (Haggans and Faneca). They certainly have cap room, why wouldn't these guys be targets for NY?

39
by the K (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 2:13pm

#30: Yeah, from what I've seen of the Jets, I'd say that's pretty accurate. Ferguson has looked pretty solid overall. Ferguson and Mangold's weakness are not Ferguson and Mangold.

As a Bills fan, I'd be thrilled to see them persue Samuel. Adding him, and Poz staying healthy in the middle of the D, and perhaps another solid DL or two, and there's potential for a top 5 unit there easily.

40
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 2:48pm

One thing that doesn't make sense to me-- why would the Bills shell out for Asante, when they wouldn't shell out for Clements?

Asante is hoping to get the same sort of ridiculous offer.

41
by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 3:11pm

<The risk of injury, performance decline, or retirement are just too high.

Agreed. He could end up retiring to chase a career in ballroom dancing.

42
by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 3:30pm

36:

You mean we are going to draft another kick returner?

But seriously, I can't think anyone who is content with the QB situation in Miami. Well, except for our division rivals. The problem as you mention is that we very much need to get younger on defense. But, out offense sucks too. We need almost everything. I just realized I really have nothing positive to contribute. We really just suck at just about every position. We could take about anyone in the draft and it would most likely be an upgrade over what we have.

43
by Andy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 3:32pm

MIAMI DOES NOT WEAR TEAL!!! IT IS AQUA!!!

44
by LI Matt (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 4:00pm

The Panthers wear teal.

Almost every sporting-goods store on Lawn Guyland has Pennington jerseys on clearance. Make of that what you will.

Historical note: in 1995, the Packers and Niners had the same record (11-5). The Niners got the bye on the tiebreaker.

45
by RickD (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 4:15pm

Is there any hope of the Pats' secondary being better than "bad" if they don't bring back Assante Samuel? Even though it would be nice to bring in help for the O-line, the secondary is very close to a disaster area if Sammuel leaves.

The guy trash-talking Brady is pretty funny. I guess the 26 for 28 against the Jags never happened.

46
by Sean McCormick :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 4:59pm

Re 17:

Ferguson has elite feet, and as a result he does a good job of mirroring even the top edge rushers. That alone makes him a worthwhile pick. His problem is that he's understrength, so if a rusher gets into his chest, he has a really hard time dealing with it. His lack of strength and his high center of balance cause him to play slightly out of control sometimes-he'll get to the spot quickly, but he'll kind of lunge at the defender rather than hitting him with compact punches. I watched the Jets-Redskins game and focused just on the two left tackles, and the big difference between Ferguson and Samuels was that Samuels played under more control.

47
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 6:10pm

RickD:

If the Pats can get younger and faster at LB, then I think the secondary will get better, with or without Samuel. Remember, they shut down the second best offense of recent years starting Earthwind Moreland and Hank Poteat...

Ellis Hobbs is a passable #2 corner, and Randall Gay (when healthy) is competent. James Sanders has very quietly become a very good safety--not elite, but certainly (to my eye) well above average. Having two decent and one very good player is a good start, and is really one good hit in the draft or in FA away from a competitive secondary. And even without that, you can mask it with a strong pass rush and good LB play.

Remember the SB. Does anyone think, even now, the Giants secondary was remotely in the neighborhood of keeping up with the Pats passing offense? But they didn't need to, because Tuck and Osi and company were abusing the Pats O-line and keeping Brady on his back.

48
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 7:41pm

So there appears to be not tag for Moss. This means one of two things; the Pats and Moss have already reached a verbal agreement on a new deal, or the Pats agreed not to tag him when he signed his new deal last year.

While I suspect that Moss will be a Patriot in '07, either reality stated above are entirely feasible.

I guess we will find out when free agancy proper begins.

49
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 7:47pm

D'Brickashaw is named D'Brickashaw, and that alone makes him a worthwhile pick.

50
by Tom G (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 8:24pm

I don't see the Bills signing Samuel either, though he would be a better person to overpay than Clemens. If they can keep everyone healthy, and get a little bigger up front, they could have a pretty good D.

Offensively, it hinges on Edwards. If all goes well, maybe 8-8 or 9-7 this year and make some hay in 2009. I'm hoping they can at least make the playoffs once before they move to Toronto.

51
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 10:03pm

#32,

I'm no expert on line play, but I think Hadnot is a serviceable guard, and young enough to improve further. Therefore, he's someone you'd like to keep, but not for franchise money. If someone wants to pay him like he's Steve Hutchinson, then wish him good luck and let him go. The issue with that is who replaces him.

As for Jayson sorry, Jason Taylor, I too would hate to lose him, but a 1st rounder makes objective sense. Like Zach Thomas, him leaving sucks, but you hope he gets a legitimate shot at a ring if he goes, (as long as it's not with New England).

52
by RCH (not verified) :: Thu, 02/21/2008 - 11:05pm

I think that your comment about abandoning the "Patriot Way" is way off base. What I take the term to mean is judicious use of the resources available under the salary cap rules to field the best team possible. In other words, don't over pay for players and under pay whenever possible.

Moss took a pay cut to come to the Pats and had to be one of the biggest bargains of recent years. Stallworth was obtained after he didn't get the big money he wanted in free agency. Welker was not a big ticket item. Thomas probably represented the biggest departure from past off seasons, but given the increase in the salary cap and where he signed I don't think that he could be called overpaid.

This year it so happened that some of the bargains were household names, but they were still bargains.

53
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:56am

Pats continue working on being Dolphins North -- Dom Capers takes a demotion, moving from being Miami's DC to be being New England's "special assistant/secondary coach".

54
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:58am

Re: #53

This of course means the current secondary coach (Joel Collier) was in essence fired. Interesting. I wonder when it was the last time the Pats fired a position coach.

55
by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 1:06am

I was laughing cheerfully at the Tom Brady talk until someone mentioned a Miami #1 for him. If he went to Miami, I really think 13's projection would become true. I don't see Brady having success with the Fins offensive talent. He's usually struggled against Miami because of the pressure they put on him. I may be wrong, but my perception from watching those games -and now the SB- is that he's more or less easily rattled, and that he needs good protection to succeed more than other QBs. That won't do in Miami.

56
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 11:27am

RE: 53 and 54

I'm excited to have Capers. I don't know what it means in terms of who gets demoted or fired, but I have heard good things about him.

Isn't it a good thing?

57
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:43pm

just to play "what if" with Jason Taylor and a trade to New England...It wouldn't be a bad move for Miami, although maybe painful for fans to see.
The assumption is that Miami doesn't plan on competing with New England for the next 2 years, which is pretty much Taylor's remaining shelf life.

And if you've watched a press conference, you know there are only 2 players in the NFL Belichick would overpay for, and Taylor is one of them (Ed Reed is the other).
The assumption for New England is that they install a 4-3 next year(but I can't speak to Taylor's ability to play OLB in a 3-4)

58
by are-tee (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 1:23pm

Seanmac,

I'm surprised you didn't mention that the Jets' defense improved dramatically after their bye week, and it wasn't all due to Harris replacing Vilma. Hopefully, they can continue to do what they started doing right, beginning with week 1.

I believe Seattle just re-signed Locklear. With the way the cap has expanded, the free agent market just isn't what it used to be. Teams will have to start focusing on making trades as a way to upgrade with veteran players.

59
by RickD (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 5:04pm

You know, I would love to see Jason Taylor in a Pats' uniform. But a trade? Parcells trading the best player on his team to Belichick? Ordinarily one doesn't trade good players within the same division, and what makes it worse is that I don't think Parcells and Belichick have been buddies at all since BB walked away from the Jets.

60
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 5:45pm

59

Miami is a mess. They need to almost fully rebuild. Jason Taylor is still decent, but he's old. He will not still be a playmaker by the time Miami turns it around, so why not trade him for what you can get now and add that extra player while teams will still trade something for him? A team like NE would probably give a 3rd or 4th for him, and it helps.

61
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/22/2008 - 9:59pm

Noah,

I don't agree with your assessment that Brady is "easily rattled" and that he needs "good protection more than other QB's to succeed". Of course if you pressure him there's a drop in his performance--this is true of every QB. And because he is so good, a drop in performance for him seems much worse than a drop for, say, JP Losman. But I challenge you to name a QB in the top third of the league in accuracy and passing ability that needs protection to succeed less than Brady. I can think of just one, maybe (see below).

Brady's biggest weakness is that he's very slow for a QB, and not particularly large-bodied. So if you have "oh-lay" blocking and speeed rushers come in untouched, he's going to get sacked or forced to throw the ball away, where maybe a big, powerful, and fast QB *might* escape and make something happen.

But how many big, powerful, and fast QB's are there with anything like Brady's passing skill? I can think of one, maybe: Ben Roesthlisperger (sorry about the spelling...my brain's not working right right now).

But every other QB I can think of either would be equally rattled by that kind of pressure, or isn't in Brady's class as far as skill goes. Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, (maybe) Derek Anderson...all these guys are going to be in trouble if a good rusher comes in unblocked. And, other than Roethlisperger, guys that could escape in that situation...Byron Leftwich, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick...are simply not as accurate as Brady. Hence, while their RELATIVE dropoff may be smaller, you're going from like a 7 to a 5 instead of a 10 to a 6, if you see my point.

On the other hand, Brady is very good at shifting in the pocket and avoiding pressure as long as the O-line and/or RB get's at least a piece of the rusher, so the drop in Brady's performance going from good to merely average protection (as opposed to good to poor protection) is probably SMALLER than it is for many QB's.

So, yeah, I agree that if you are going to be starting "hole-in-the-line" offensive lineman, Brady's probably not your man. You're going to want someone who can scramble around and shed tackles, and then heave the ball up with a prayer, because that's better than getting sacked every down. But unless you manage to get Big Ben, you're never going to be any good with that approach. On the other hand, if you can get at least AVERAGE protection, then you want to pursue a QB that's actually good, and Brady is certainly a good alternative then...

62
by Storm (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 12:25pm

The "pats way" is not different - do what you have to win - they were just executing it better, and trademarked the process. When they fail, even against an inferior opponent, they adjust. Obviously no more videotaping etc., but now they are at an age/cap disadvantage. Overcome it? Best way is to trade. Management should be ruthless; if an aging, immobile, expensive QB is their most overvalued asset, they should consider it. Sorry, its a business. Maybe they could try to trade an all pro O-lineman, but would they significantly improve their station by doing so?
Sure its heretical - this is a chat - but this was created by those who thought NE was better because they were smarter and could exploit opportunities more effectively. If thats true, this would be part of it. I think its more likely that, all along, the difference between them and any other beatable good team was just a few stolen blitz calls, and they'll likely not go "out of the box". But that would cement themselves as another beatable team whose good fortune is behind them, and is not nearly as interesting to discuss.

63
by Will (not verified) :: Sat, 02/23/2008 - 6:44pm

As a Pats fan, the biggest surprise in the Super Bowl was that their offensive line wasn't even competitive against the Giants' pass rush. If Jake Long is available at 7, I snap him up. Linebacker is a need, but picking a college defensive end with the #7 pick and hoping he can play standing up seems foolish.

64
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 02/24/2008 - 9:43pm

Re: Brady

I still think his ankle was hurting more than they were letting on (I wonder if we'll ever get the truth). I say this because of the lack of the Pats trying anything to give Brady a bit more time, like rolling or otherwise moving the pocket (which is something they've done in the past when faced with a heavy rush). Which isn't to take away from the amazing job the NYG DL did.

65
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/25/2008 - 10:55pm

61,

What about Romo? You don''t even consider him in the top class of QB's? He's certainly better than Rivers and Anderson, and arguably better than Bress, Palmer, and Roethlisberger as well? He may not be quite as good as Ben at negating the rush, but he is very good at moving around in the pocket. I think if you're gonna make that arguement you should include him and Farve as well. Also I think you meant Garrard, not Leftwich. Or at least I hope so, because Leftwich is slow.

66
by ygold (not verified) :: Tue, 02/26/2008 - 3:07am

Agree with others that Brick, while not Pro Bowl material yet, is not a source of the Jets (many) problems. LG is an obvious need. They also need a #1 WR- Coles and Cotchery are both #2 level. Pass rushing OLB should be #1 priority though, too bad Chris Long won't be around at #6. Robertson can hold his own at NT against some centers, but the better ones push him around easily. I think this is the main reason for their terrible run defense.

Regarding Vilma- everyone says he's too small for 3-4, but in an interview with Zach Thomas (approximately same weight) he said you're more protected in the 3-4 because with the 2 OLBs you have 5 players on the line instead of 4. Mangini has always claimed that the scheme is not the problem with Vilma, and I'm inclined to believe him.

67
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/26/2008 - 4:39pm

Will the last Patriot out the door turn off the lights?

It's pretty much a done deal that Samuel is leaving. It's been essentially announced the team will not re-sign Wilson. FoxSports.com has Moss likely leaving. And The Invaluable Mike Reiss says Colvin is going to be cut.