AFC Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Bills

  • The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia notes that while Bills nickel corner Taron Johnson was good against the run, he was once again a liability in coverage, making nickel a big hole for Buffalo going forward. 

Dolphins

Every offensive lineman takes pride in keeping defenders away from their quarterback. But for the Dolphins, pass protection takes on added importance with first-round QB Tua Tagovailoa, who is not only a rookie but has a notable injury history after dislocating his hip last fall at Alabama. 

“We have to be perfect for him,” Dolphins fourth-round G Solomon Kindley said via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “That was his very first game. . . . The offensive line has got to do a little bit more to get him comfortable. All week, this week, that’s what we’re emphasizing so we can give him the amount of time that he needs even more.”

  • Per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Dolphins HC Brian Flores pushed back on the idea that Tagovailoa is auditioning for his future over the final 10 games because Miami will have a high first-round pick: “We brought Tua here because we believe in him, along with all of the other picks. We believe in developing players, improving players on a daily basis. That would be the opposite of giving someone a 10-game audition.”
  • Flores didn’t rule out the possibility of RB Matt Breida playing this week but noted “hamstrings are tough.” (Wolfe)

Jets

  • SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano outlines the seven big decisions facing the Jets and GM Joe Douglas in the upcoming months, starting with whether to fire HC Adam Gase after just two seasons. 
  • If they do fire Gase, which seems likely, Vacchiano notes the coaching search will depend on whether Douglas or CEO Christopher Johnson has a greater voice in the process. 
  • Johnson is likely to be more attracted to big names, like Oklahoma HC Lincoln Riley, while Douglas could lean on connections to the Raven with DC Don Martindale or Eagles with assistant HC Duce Staley.
  • Other expected top candidates include Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh and Bills OC Brian Daboll.
  • If the Jets have the No. 1 pick, Vacchiano writes they won’t have much of a choice but to move on from QB Sam Darnold, hopefully for a decent package of draft picks. 
  • Vacchiano expects wide receiver to be one of Douglas’ top offseason priorities after how bad the position has been this season, noting there should be good options available to the Jets in both free agency and the draft. 
  • He adds that first-round LT Mekhi Becton and C Connor McGovern are the only two Jets offensive linemen who are safe, and the team can move on from G Alex Lewis, G Greg Van Roten and OT George Fant without much of a penalty, even though the latter two were signed in free agency this past offseason.
  • While the Jets need a top pass rusher, Vacchiano notes Douglas’ apparent aversion to spending big bucks in free agency could mean New York is out on some of the top players potentially available in free agency in 2021. 
  • Douglas also faces an interesting decision with S Marcus Maye, who is one of the Jets’ few, good young players and is a strong locker room presence, but might not be worth the rising cost safeties often command on the open market.  
  • Jets DL Quinnen Williams (hamstring) and WR Jamison Crowder (groin) did not practice Thursday. (Vacchiano)
  • Jets WR Breshad Perriman moved to the next phase of the concussion protocol and was limited in practice. (Brian Costello)
  • Darnold (shoulder) did not practice Thursday but Gase is optimistic he’ll be able to play Monday night against the Patriots. (Manish Mehta)
  • Gase noted Darnold’s MRI revealed no structural damage in his shoulder and he’s “just sore.” (Vacchiano)
  • Gase told reporters that OC Dowell Loggains will remain in charge of the offensive play-calling this week. (Connor Hughes)

Patriots

  • The Patriots also put in a claim for WR Dante Pettis, who was claimed off waivers from the 49ers by the Giants. The Browns also tried to claim Pettis. (Field Yates)
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