AFC East Insider Notes, Quotes, and Analysis

Jason Taylor

Scout.com's NFL insider Adam Caplan breaks down the latest news and quotes from the AFC teams to come out of the owners meetings with his expert analysis.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Questions and Quotes from Head Coach Dick Jauron

(QB) J.P. Losman's status?

"We're really happy to have J.P. He did a great job of handling the whole situation last year. We know he's expressed some unhappiness about this situation but we also know that most teams in this league – unless you're the Green Bay Packers or Indianapolis Colts or New England Patriots – generally you need two – two good ones (Trent Edwards being the other quarterback).

We've got two good young quarterback who we know can win. We haven't won enough to get where we want to be but they can both win in the league. We're excited about it and we're going to move forward."


So someone has to knock your socks off to acquire him?

"What we've said there is it's like anybody else on our football team. We'd be foolish not to listen to anybody about any player. If you want to talk, we'll always listen. There's nobody that's untouchable, I believe."

Analysis: Buffalo will want at least a third-round pick for Losman but the problem is that the Packers are the only team that is in dire need of a quarterback at this point (assuming the Minnesota Vikings sign Gus Frerotte as widely speculated).


What pieces do you want to add to the offense?

"We've made no secret of the fact we'd like to get a big receiver. The reason is I really like our receivers, but we don't have a big receiver in the group. We need to add that so our opponents have to prepare for it and think about it. We'd love to have somebody who can be covered but not be covered. You can throw him the ball and he can outmuscle you for it. I'd like to do that.

Analysis: The coaches really are looking for a big receiver to protect top WR Lee Evans. Teams constantly double-team Evans and no one on the other side has stepped up to take the pressure off of him. A big receiver certainly would also help their red zone passing game which has been a problem for several years. Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish are viewed as inside receivers.

As Scout.com noted prior to last year's draft, the team was considering selecting WR Craig Davis with their second-round pick but he went off the board late in the first round.


Additional Notes
:A team source notes Buffalo has their eye on Michigan St. WR Devin Thomas but they would likely trade down if they were to select him.

Because of the acquisitions of DTs Spencer Johnson and Marcus Stroud, the team will likely pass on selecting a defensive tackle until later in the draft.


Miami Dolphins

Questions and Quotes from Head Coach Tony Sparano

Offensive line depth chart?

"Right now at left tackle is Vernon Carey. Vernon played there last year and that's where we have him lined up right now. At left guard there is a little bit of a hole. Drew Mormino is a guy who played a little bit last year, early in the year (preseason) that we're looking at last year. We have a couple of young players there right now. The center is Samson Satele. Right guard we signed free agent Justin Smiley, and right now right tackle has a hole."

Analysis: A league source notes the previous coaching staff was considering moving Satele to guard. With Satele staying in the middle, left guard and right tackle remain as the problem areas.

Veteran offensive line coach Mike Maser is known as a solid teacher and he did a good job with the Carolina Panthers previously but he has quite a challenge on his hands. Both Smiley and Carey have underachieved a bit in the past and the team still has two holes to fill.


How will the front seven look?

"Matt Roth, you line him up right now he'd be our left end. (Jason) Ferguson and Randy Starks, he'd be at one of the end spots. Linebackers, depending on what we do their right now, there's Jason (Taylor) and Joey Porter. Porter is right now outside, depending on what we do. Channing Crowder as well. Maybe Reggie Torbor inside."

Analysis: It's looking like they will play the 3-4 although Sparano said that's not set in stone yet.

If Taylor isn't traded and Porter is healthy (which he wasn't for a good part of last season), they could form a nice tandem. Torbor has mostly played SLB with the New York Giants who play a 4-3 so a move to the inside would be a challenge for him.


Additional Notes: While local speculation has the team interested in University of Delaware QB Joe Flacco, the team has yet to work him out or have him visit, Scout.com has confirmed. Flacco, we're told, expects to visit the team before the draft.


New England Patriots

Questions and Quotes from Head Coach Bill Belichick

With the departure of Donte' Stallworth, how does that change Wes Welker's role?

"Well, you know, I think everything changes a little bit from year to year. We'll have to see how the receiving corps and how our passing game develops this year. I think Wes will still pretty much be in the role that he was in last year, certainly the majority of the time. We might have to modify things a little bit, but that's a function of the entire passing game, not just Wes, not just Donte', but all of our receivers and our protections - and how that ties in to the running game and so forth. There are always changes every year. I'm sure there will be some this year."

Analysis: With Welker keeping his slot role, that currently leaves veteran WR Jabar Gaffney as a starter opposite Randy Moss. Gaffney, who played well last year, is still probably best used in a rotational role coming off of the bench. So it will be interesting to see if the team addresses this position in the draft or in the rest of free agency. Will they finally give WR Chad Jackson a chance? Stay tuned.


Do you envision Junior Seau returning to the team in 2008?

"I think we'll evaluate the situation with Junior a little bit further into the spring. We'll see where he's at. I don't think really after the season with a player like that, is the time to make that decision. I think it's good to give it a little time and we'll plan on talking to him about that at some later point. There is no specific time or cutoff date, or anything like that. We'll just take it as it comes."

Analysis: As noted in the Owners Meetings Blog earlier this week, the Patriots haven't used a pick on a linebacker before the fifth round since Belichick has been the head coach. Could this be the year that they select a linebacker early in the draft? Belichick likes his veteran linebackers but at some point you have to get younger at the position.


Additional Notes: Scout.com has confirmed starting RG Steve Neal (knee, shoulder) had shoulder surgery recently. Neal dealt with knee and shoulder problems last season which caused him to miss eight games. Neal left the Super Bowl game in the first half due to knee problems and didn't return. Neal turns 32 in October and has missed 11 regular season games over the past two seasons. His contract is set to expire after the 2009 season. Don't be surprised if the team addresses the position in this month's draft.


New York Jets

Questions and Quotes from Head Coach Eric Mangini

What about (RB) Thomas Jones?

"I think offensive we're capable of improving in a lot of areas and the running game, often times you want to point to the one guy, the running back, but often times it's not just him. I don't think that's always the case. I think the offensive line, those guys all getting a chance to work together another year in the system. Some things in terms of the approach we're going to try to take in the running game will help. I think (FB) Tony Richardson will help us, too. (TE) Bubba Franks as well. It's going to be the full combination of the things we ran last year, what did we like and what do we think we can improve on. We'd like to make sure those are better, but the full … we have studied it as much as we can study it."

Analysis: No doubt that the additions of Richardson and Franks will help since both are considered to be solid blockers. So Jones could see a jump in his average yards per carry. But Jones turns 30 before the season starts so you can understand why the team is interested in University of Arkansas RB Darren McFadden.


What was his average per carry last year and what would you like it to be?

"Probably 3.8 or 3.9. We'd like it to be as high as possible. He has consistently been in that range. Anywhere from 4.0 to mid 3s to 4.5. He has had some year where it has spiked above. Knowing Thomas, he's a big, physical guy and you lose track of it sometimes, but he has a nice change of direction, burst. I've like the element he has added to our team and with he and (RB) Leon (Washington) working together and complementing each other, it has been good."

Analysis: Mangini mentions Washington but has he really been given a legitimate chance at playing time? Washington only got 107 touches last season (less than 7 per game) which is down from his rookie season in 2006 (176 touches/11 per game). Washington, after watching him, is an excellent change of pace back who can break off a big play at any time.

Jones doesn't possess any where hear Washington's speed or explosiveness.


What's going to happen at quarterback? Could you play a rookie?

"I think it's dependent on what happens in the draft. There's a possibility we could bring someone else in in free agency. We usually carry three and sometimes four in the offseason. Right now, I think it's between Kellen (Clemens) and Chad (Pennington). You have to wait and see what happens in terms of the draft and free agency."

Analysis: It seems to us that the team still wants to give Clemens a shot to be the starter--and they should. Just two years ago, the team selected Clemens in the second round and he only started eight games in 2007 so he needs more time under center in order for the coaches to be able to judge his progress.


How does Alan Faneca fit into your line?

"I think Alan is going to, one, stabilize the group and, two really help the other guys. He's going to help LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson) Brick, he's going to help (C) Nick (Mangold). Just his leadership, in general, is going to help the whole group."

Analysis: Ferguson is coming off of a bad season. In fact, a league source who studied his coaching tape last season notes Ferguson should have been benched had they had an adequate replacement. So Faneca's addition will go a long way to help stabilizing the left side of the offensive line.

Additional Notes: Despite the speculation about the team drafting McFadden, they could decide to select a cornerback if they trade down. CB Justin Miller hasn't shown any consistency and the team is still looking for someone to start opposite CB Darrelle Revis who is coming off of a solid rookie campaign.

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