AFC Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Dolphins

The Dolphins were so bad running the ball in 2019 that 37-year-old QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team with 243 yards. To change that, Miami signed RB Jordan Howard in free agency and swung a draft-day trade for 49ers RB Matt Breida. The two have very different styles but Dolphins RB coach Eric Studesville anticipates them providing a big boost to the team’s rushing attack. 

Jordan Howard, his experience being in two different places and what he brings here, he’s a smart guy,” Studesville said via ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “He’s been able to pick things up so far, what we’re talking about, you love his size, he’s got good feet for a big back, he’s got good vision. I think he’ll have a chance to be a physical presence for us, as well as effective in the passing game with what we’re asking for. Matt Breida, obviously with his experience, his speed, you see his burst and quickness early on as soon as he touches the field.”

  • Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick gave some insight to Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne on why he requested a trade from the Dolphins last season. While he was excited to play for HC Brian Flores and move around the field, Flores wanted to play him as a strong safety which Fitzpatrick didn’t think played to his skills: “It was messing up my skill set. I was working the hand-fighting drills against the tight ends and working on hitting the bags and stuff like that. That’s fine and dandy, but that wasn’t my skill set.”
  • After Miami was blown out Week 1, Fitzpatrick went to Flores and requested a trade: “We had a difference of opinion in my skill set and what he thought I could do and what I thought I could do. It was going to get tough for me to show something to somebody they were choosing not to see. They didn’t give me the opportunity to show it, even though I had film that showed it.”
  • Fitzpatrick says Miami’s obvious rebuild didn’t factor into his decision and had the coaching staff played him to his strengths, he’d have been willing to grit it out: “The losing and all that stuff? If I was put in the right position and we’re losing—because of decisions people made upstairs—it is what it is. I can only control how I play. That didn’t affect me at all.”

Jets

  • Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Jets HC Adam Gase said every game will be different in terms of using RB Le’Veon Bell as a workhorse or committee back: “He’s 28. You got to make sure you’re using him the right way… And make sure he gets to 16+ games.”
  • Gase admitted he did a “bad job” by over-using Bell in the beginning of last season and wants to change that this year. (Rich Cimini)
  • Jets second-round WR Denzel Mims is improving with every rep, per Gase, though the coach acknowledged the transition from college to pros for receivers is tough this offseason. (Connor Hughes)
  • Jets OC Dowell Loggains has been impressed with TE Chris Herndon so far: “He’s a guy Sam Darnold has a lot of confidence in (and) he’s a guy we really missed last year.” (Ralph Vacchiano)
  • Bell said he’s slimmed down to around 210-215 pounds which is his lightest weight since high school. (Brian Costello)
  • Bell explained former S Jamal Adams was a big reason he signed with the Jets because of his pitch that the two would turn the franchise around so he felt a little betrayed by Adams trying to force his way out: “To tell me one thing, and then … I talked to him and he said he wasn’t going to try to force his way out.” (Hughes)
  • Bell refuted reports of conflict between him and Gase: “I love Coach Gase…. We get along fine.” (Mehta)

Patriots

New Patriots QB Cam Newton said he has been working with OC Josh McDaniels and QBs coach Jedd Fisch on learning their offensive system. 

“At the end of the day, football is still football and you just can’t make too much on it, than what it already is,” said Newton, via Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “Josh (McDaniels) has been there every step of the way as well as Coach (Jedd Fisch). Just been hammering away. All the quarterbacks have been trying to learn this whole system from what it is.”

Newton said he’s “got my hands full” with learning the Patriots’ offense in their abbreviated offseason program. 

“I think I’ve got my hands full with trying to learn as much as I can in a short period of time and that’s what I’m trying to do,” said Newton. “I approach this day-to-day. Those guys have been unbelievable throughout this process. Also, just leaning on guidance from the teammates as well.”

McDaniels called Newton a “smart football player” and mentioned that they are working towards getting him “caught up” with the Patriots’ system. 

“He’s a smart football player. He’s played a lot of football. He’s seen a lot of stuff. Guys in our league rarely have the type of success that a player like he has had and this fast without understanding the game,” said McDaniels. “He learns well and we’re in the middle of this process of trying to get him caught up along with a lot of the new guys to learn what we want him to do, we’ll just keep working at it every day.”

While Newton is the clear favorite to win the starting job, former projected starting QB Jarrett Stidham is still focused on competing as hard as he can. The Patriots have said it’s an open competition and even if Stidham can’t beat out Newton for the starting job, he’s also competing with veteran QB Brian Hoyer for the No. 2 job. 

“I’m definitely ready. I’ve put in a lot of work this offseason to really improve mentally, physically, in a lot of different areas,” Stidham said via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “At the end of the day, I’m extremely excited to compete with Cam and Hoy as we go forward in training camp and get into the season. I’m really looking forward to the competition. I love competing in whatever it is.”

  • Patriots OT Isaiah Wynn said this is the first offseason ever that he hasn’t had to rehab an injury, so he used it to focus on some “little things” with his game. (Michael Giardi)
  • Patriots RB Rex Burkhead called the loss of RT Marcus Cannon for the season a “huge” loss for New England’s run game. (Zack Cox
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