AFC Notes: Von Miller, Bill Belichick, Bills, Dolphins, Patriots


Bills HC Sean McDermott said choosing to make OLB Von Miller a healthy scratch for Week 17 was a difficult decision but is looking forward to getting him back. 

“That was a tough decision. Von’s a pro, he’s one of the leaders on our team, and I thought he did a phenomenal job on the sideline from a leadership standpoint with his teammates. He’s a very important part of this team and we have full confidence in him. I look forward to getting him back going forward here,” McDermott said, via BillsWire. 


  • Dolphins DC Vic Fangio said they will fill OLB Bradley Chubbs role by committee with Emmanuel Ogbah and Melvin Ingram: “Ogbah is a good pass rusher for the most part; Mel [Ingram] is a little more well rounded from OB position, with ability to drop,” per Barry Jackson. 
  • Fangio said rookie CB Cam Smith must “improve in all areas” to get more playing time: “Improve in all areas. Assignment, technique, execution, know-how,” via Adam Beasley. 
  • Dolphins OT Terron Amstread earned a $650,000 incentive for being elected to this year’s Pro Bowl, via Joel Corry. 
  • Dolphins FB Alec Ingold earned a $500,000 incentive for being elected to the Pro Bowl. (Corry)
  • Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill earned a $250,000 incentive for his selection to the Pro Bowl. (Corry)


  • Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald conducted interviews with a number of Patriots sources who detailed the behind-the-scenes dysfunction this season, especially on offense. 
  • They note it began when the Patriots hired new OC Bill O’Brien to replace former OC Matt Patricia. Although HC Bill Belichick preferred to keep Patricia and give him a chance to grow in a second season, Patriots owner Robert Kraft pushed for changes. Despite positive reviews of O’Brien from the spring, the Patriots offense collapsed in 2023 and statistically was even worse than it was under Patricia. 
  • Per the Herald, sources believe O’Brien wanted to hire his own staff but Belichick denied him except for replacing former TE coach Nick Caley with Will Lawing. As a result, team sources said a hierarchy developed on the offensive staff with Lawing and assistant QB coach Evan Rothstein ahead of everyone else: “The staff dynamic is completely f—ed.”
  • Another source added frustration started to build up in the late spring over the performance of the receivers and offensive line, led by OL coach Adrian Klemm, WR coach Troy Brown and assistant WR coach Ross Douglas. Callahan and Kyed say the front office and O’Brien thought there was no development from those units, which have been problem points for New England in 2023: “It’s just a lot of bad s—. Bad coaching.”
  • On the flip side, some staffers were frustrated by what they felt was a failure by the front office to adequately invest in those positions, especially the offensive line. Said one team source to the Herald: “We didn’t invest in the offensive line until the fourth round, didn’t take a receiver until the sixth. How do we spend the first three picks on defense when tackle was the biggest problem on the team last year?”
  • Klemm even confronted director of player personnel Matt Groh in a loud exchange early in the season over the issue. Callahan and Kyed wrote Belichick and Groh thought the top tackles in free agency and the draft were overrated and not worth the investment, instead preferring to make a series of low-cost, band-aid additions, none of which really panned out. 
  • Amidst all of that, the straw that really broke the Patriots’ back was the regression of QB Mac Jones into someone they couldn’t justify putting on the field anymore. One source told Callahan and Kyed that former backup QB Bailey Zappe, who was waived during roster cuts and re-signed to the practice squad, didn’t so much beat Jones out in practice as he “waited him out.” A locker room source added: “We had no chance to win with Mac at quarterback.”
  • Jones’ confidence was shot, per Callahan and Kyed, with some players relaying that he would audible into new plays and then not throw to the intended target. With Zappe struggling to seize the moment, they add the dynamic in the quarterback room was uncomfortable. Jones and Zappe are cordial but hardly talk to one another: “There definitely isn’t healthy communication in there about trying to win football games.” 
  • The defense was not without issues. Callahan and Kyed report Belichick cut CB Jack Jones after he blew up on CB coach Mike Pellegrino at halftime of a game he had been benched in. 
  • They add there have been issues with OT Trent Brown, who was a healthy scratch at one point and openly discussed playing for an NFC team in the locker room after an upset win against the Steelers. 
  • Multiple team sources reiterated Belichick has not lost his touch as a coach, but his poor decisions when it comes to assembling a coaching staff and roster have put New England in its current mess: “The guys still respond to him. And goddamn, we have so many squad meetings where he shows them what’s going to happen in the game, and it always f–ing happens. Even down to what we can’t do, and then we end up f—ing doing it.”

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