New England Patriots
The Patriots like everybody else in the league were able to sign their draft picks quickly. This is why I haven’t mentioned them in the NFC free agency grades and won’t really mention them again unless they’re necessary.
The Patriots made a splash in free agency when they traded draft picks(that have yet to be defined) for the opinionated Chad Ochocinco. They also traded a fifth round 2013 pick for troubled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The reasons for this are obvious. Getting two potentially good players for a low price all the while addressing critical needs.
The Patriots had a pretty solid red zone defense. They allowed just 19.6 points per game which put them at eighth in the league for fewest points allowed per game last season. However they were poor against the run and couldn’t put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They ranked 25th in the league in yards allowed. They gave up 366.5 yards per game.
Haynesworth if motivated should be able to provide the necessary pass rush to aid New England. How much New England is willing to go to the 4-3 to satisfy him is a question. They also brought in Andre Carter from Washington to add depth to the line. It’s a bit odd because Carter also never adjusted well to the the 3-4 in Washington.
Ochocinco should replace the aged Deion Branch as the deep threat. All Chad ever wanted was to be in a winning situation. I don’t think he’ll be much of a problem at all. He tends to improvise routes, which was something that drove Carson Palmer nuts, if he can’t work this out with Brady he simply won’t get the ball. Will Ocho stop talking long enough to learn the Patriot way? Only time will tell.
The Pats brought back many of their own defensive players and offensive players. No one is more important than guard Logan Mankins. He’ll look to continue to do the work necessary to keep Tom Brady’s jersey clean.
As always it’s hard to tell what New England is doing. They brought back many players who were members of a slightly above average defense and looked to make no improvements. While all signs look like a change to the 4-3 is right around the corner, Patriot fans hope it will be enough to keep the Jets grounded.
New York Jets
They may not have been able to nab Nnamdi Asomugha but they did alright. They brought back Santonio Holmes, which was important. They went out on a limb and got Plaxico Burress, that may not have been the best idea, but Braylon Edwards was allegedly demanding more money than he was worth. They filled out their revamped receiving corps with Derrick Mason coming off of a solid season with Baltimore.
It’s amazing that the Jets got Antonio Cromartie to return after going for Asomugha. Cromartie felt hurt afterward but, he did want to win so he went back New York. The Jets had a solid defense and there really wasn’t much room to improve it. I thought that they should have gone after an outside linebacker. Bart Scott is an excellent middle linebacker but it would’ve been nice to get him some help outside.
The Jets for all their flash upgraded nothing. They didn’t improve really and they didn’t address their needs(not that they had many to begin with). The Jets could have stood to add pass rushers on their defensive line or add a tight end. They did not. However as we all know, winning free agency doesn’t get you rings. Consistency does so the Jets are looking to develop the guys they have.
It looks like Buffalo was able to trick some players into coming to play for them. To improve their offense they signed Buster Davis a receiver who had previously played with the Chargers to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a young target to throw to. Davis is 25 years old and could be piece that the Bills are able to develop. Davis played 7 games last season in San Diego and had 21 receptions for 259 yards. He’s not a big receiver standing at 6’1″ however, and so it is yet to be seen how effective he’ll be.
Buffalo also brought in Tyler Thigpen to add depth at the QB position which is a good thing. Buffalo has a pretty shoddy offensive line and Fitzpatrick will get hit . . . hard . . . a lot.
Needing to fill a hole at linebacker left by the departing Paul Posluszny, the Bills got Nick Barnett. It’s a bit of a gamble. Barnett is injury prone and is coming off of another season where he was injured. He hurt his wrist against the Lions last season and it required surgery. Barnett can be a playmaker when healthy but at 30 years of age he’s running out of time to prove it. I know Buffalo hopes he’s worth the 3 year $12 million deal that they gave him. Buffalo has a solid defensive line so Barnett should be able to have ease rushing the quarterback and stopping runs.
The Bills are hoping that the moves they made will give them an opportunity to stop being the doormat of the AFC East. They’ve got dynamic young players on both sides of the ball and added a few pieces that will help them as they continue to improve going into the future. At least they won’t be at the bottom of the division anymore.
I’m not a Dolphins fan, nor am I close to anyone in the organization but sometimes as an outside observer, it appears that Miami is being run by a room full of chimpanzees. Last season they go after Jim Harbaugh to be their head coach while they still have Tony Sporano the actual head coach still on their payroll. Sporano doesn’t get fired because Harbaugh chose San Francisco instead. So now here is a man with players he drafted with a system that doesn’t appear to work and it does not have the personnel to make it work.
There is no quarterback capable of manning the offense, or any offense for that matter. Chad Henne is a disaster at quarterback and Matt Moore isn’t much more encouraging. The running back is now Reggie Bush. He’s the featured back. How did they figure? Reggie is a gadget player, nothing more and nothing less. He’s too fragile to be a featured back and lacks the strength(and work ethic) to become one.
The Dolphins failed to pull the trigger on a deal that would have given them Kyle Orton. Though he’s not the greatest quarterback in the league you could do far worse, and Miami is going to prove it to us apparently.
Miami doesn’t have a bad defense but, it’s slightly below average . . . at everything. In just about every statistical category the Dolphins defense is average. So it’s not really commendable when the Dolphins actually re-signed members of their less-than-stellar defensive unit.
The Dolphins had an opportunity to take steps forward. Instead they’ve moved in the wrong direction, with the league’s least enviable quarterback situation and question marks all over their roster.