AFC Notes: Dolphins, Jets, Patriots


Dolphins HC Brian Flores doesn’t buy the idea that they should go with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback, even after he pulled out a win on Saturday.

“Tua has brought us a spark in a lot of other games. I think people will just forget that because we just remember the last thing,” Flores said, via “Speculation on whatever people want to speculate about as far as what we should or shouldn’t do based on last night, I wouldn’t do that and forget the body of work over the course of the season to include the last however many games Tua has been starting [eight]. I think he’s played fairly well.

“People may disagree, but I think we would have to agree to disagree in that instance. That’s my take on that. It’s not based off one game or one quarter — there’s a lot of practices that people don’t see, walk-throughs that no one sees. But everyone wants to make a judgment and try to make a decision for us on what we should do without all that information.

Flores explained that a lot goes into making this decision and Tua has shown improvement over the course of the season. 

“Tua has played well. He’s made a lot of improvement over the course of the season. He’s developing,” Flores said. “I don’t make judgments and decisions based on one instance. There’s a lot that goes into the decisions we make — conversations and not just one game or one quarter. Tua has done a lot of good things for this team. He knows that. The team knows that.


  • Jets HC Adam Gase said when asked if he thought the two-game winning streak will make a difference for him and his employment: “I haven’t thought about it. I haven’t had any discussions with Christopher (Johnson) about any of this. … It’s something I can’t worry about.” (Ralph Vacchiano)
  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says Ravens DC Don Martindale could be a candidate for the Jets head coaching vacancy. He worked with Jets GM Joe Douglas in Baltimore. 
  • Rapoport adds Martindale’s staff list includes Clemson OC Tony Elliott, former Bengals HC Marvin Lewis and former Bears HC Lovie Smith.
  • Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, there’s a lot of people in and around the NFL who still think Jets QB Sam Darnold is talented, but conventional wisdom suggests a quarterback who hasn’t broken out by his third season isn’t ever going to. One former NFC GM said the situation in New York is a complicating factor: “I’ve watched Darnold a lot. I saw him in college. I don’t know how good or whatever he is. The Jets have just been a mess. The head coach is a mess, so I don’t know.”
  • Cimini mentions again that Douglas had Darnold graded as his top quarterback in 2018, though he was with the Eagles at the time. The success of Titans QB Ryan Tannehill after getting away from Jets HC Adam Gase is also another factor in Darnold’s favor. 
  • Jets RT George Fant is a potential cap casualty, per Cimini, as he carries a $9.4 million cap charge next year with $4.45 million of his $8 million base salary guaranteeing on March 22.
  • Cimini doesn’t expect the Jets to get rid of C Connor McGovern given he has $8 million guaranteed already next year but he writes they could move him to guard.  


  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Patriots plan to start QB Cam Newton on Monday night against the Bills instead of giving backup Jarrett Stidham a start for further evaluation. 
  • ESPN’s Mike Reiss says that based on HC Bill Belichick‘s past comments about how much he values accuracy and decision-making in quarterbacks, it would seem like Newton isn’t a fit to be brought back next year. 
  • However, the supporting cast deficiencies are obviously a factor and it isn’t clear that Belichick views Stidham as anything more than a backup. 
  • As far as other options, Reiss thinks the Patriots would be interested if San Francisco made QB Jimmy Garoppolo available.
  • Potential free agents available include Saints QB Jameis Winston and Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, while Reiss writes the Patriots are likely looking at North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Alabama’s Mac Jones or Florida’s Kyle Trask if their first-round pick stays in the mid-teens. 
  • Reiss mentions it’s possible 34-year-old Patriots WR Julian Edelman has played his last game for New England given how much wear and tear he’s endured this year. 
  • Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears says he’s planning on coaching another season in 2021 at the age of 67: “I love what we do. I love the work. I love being around the players and being a part of putting this thing together and making it happen. The whole deal comes down to, am I moving enough, physically able to do what I need to do out there on the field? And as long as I can do that and enjoy it, then I would love to be out there, no doubt about it.” (Doug Kyed)
  • Patriots offensive assistant Troy Brown has been assisting Fears with the backs during practice and Kyed thinks he’s a logical choice to take over when Fears retires. 

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