AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Dolphins

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer relays a story that was told to him about Dolphins HC Brian Flores joking during in-house draft meetings he would wear a Tua Tagovailoa jersey to the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine so people thought they’d take the quarterback.
  • That along with Flores being guarded about his opinion on Tagovailoa led some in the organization to surmise Miami wasn’t going to take him, which was then told to Breer and led him to the same conclusion. 
  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec mentions the Dolphins likely would have taken RB J.K. Dobbins if the Ravens hadn’t taken him one spot before their pick at No. 56. 
  • Instead, Miami traded a fifth-round pick to the 49ers for RB Matt Breida, which the team talked about before the draft per Flores: “There’s a lot of brainstorming that goes on about doing some things outside the box, and this trade was an example of that.” (Cameron Wolfe)

Jets

While he was used less than he was during his years with the Steelers, Jets RB Le’Veon Bell was still the feature back in his first season in New York last year. However, after a rocky 2019, the Jets and Bell have had to go back to the drawing board to figure out the best way to maximize his talents. One way, per HC Adam Gase, could be to give him the ball a little bit less. 

“I do think we have some guys that can help maybe lessen the load on [Bell] to where it’s not all on him,” Gase said via ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “Hopefully, we can get some of the younger backs to where we can make a good one-two punch to where we can really excel instead of feeling like it’s just all on him all the time.”

The Jets drafted RB La’Mical Perine in the fourth round and also employ Kenneth Dixon and Josh Adams on the roster right now. Gase also went on to say the hope is an improved passing attack will help create more space for Bell to operate as well. New York signed WR Breshad Perriman in free agency and drafted WR Denzel Mims in the second round. Both have legit speed, running the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds. 

“If you have the vertical threats like I think we’re going to have with the wide receivers now, hey, maybe we’ll start seeing two-high zone instead of them just focusing on one guy in the receiving corps,” said Gase. “You’ve got [TE] Chris Herndon back. You’ve got [TE] Ryan Griffin. You’ve got some guys who can do some different things there and stretch the field vertically. That was something Chris was really good at. Now, all of a sudden, Le’Veon is seeing lighter boxes, which he didn’t see a lot last year. We saw loaded boxes for the most part. We didn’t do a good enough job winning in the passing game to open some of that stuff up.”

  • New York also focused on revamping its offensive line, adding players with more athleticism to be able to get back to running more zone-blocking plays according to Gase: “[It’s] something we’re really looking to get back to. We probably went away from it a little bit last year — quite a bit. We’re looking to make that more of a staple for ourselves.”

Patriots

Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore has ascended to become the NFL’s top cornerback since joining New England from the Bills. Gilmore was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year this past season and he credits the defensive stability in New England with helping him reach that height. While the Patriots have had different defensive coordinators, they’ve always had HC Bill Belichick putting a heavy helping hand on the defensive side of the football. 

“Me in Buffalo, the first five years, I had four different defensive coordinators, three different head coaches, so I was kind of trying to learn each and every year,” Gilmore said via MassLive.com’s Chris Mason. “Once I got to New England, I got some consistency and the same guys around, same coaches. I feel like that is why my game took off more.”

 

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