Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Guys You Don't Know (But You Should) AFC East Edition
The East is quite intrigueing this season. The Dolphins spent the entire offseason retooling their entire lineup and coaching staff. The Jets got much better on the defensive side of the ball with the additions of Bell and Landry at safety. The Bills made a splash by signing Mario Williams to a record contract. The Patriots gave Tom Brady a bunch of new toys to play with. The Pats are coming off an AFC Championship season, yet there are still questions of whether Brady will ever be able to get over the powerhouses in the NFC. Miami took the biggest questionmark in the draft in quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Jets are becoming media whores and I am pretty sure people are just a little sick of them.
New England had possibly the biggest breakout star of 2011. Rob Gronkowski (Gronk if you're his bro) had quite possibly the best season a tight end has had in history. The Patriots showed a brand new way to play the game with Gronk and Hernandez playing tight end, but both being receiving threats. It may have changed the way people draft, gameplan, and play the game. The Bills had their own breakout star in Fred Jackson. He was well on his way to winning the rushing title before his season was cut short by a broken leg. For reasons I will no longer state (see the first sentence) all eyes will be on the East and all of their games. With the country watching, which players will show up and make you think "what was I missing this whole time?"
Miami Dolphins- Chad Johnson
Johnson will have a huge impact on Miami in....what?....he got cut? Moving on...
Miami Dolphins- Davone Bess
Bess had a down year in 2011. What was looking like a possible breakout season turned into a disappointment. His numbers from 2010 to 2011 were down in every possible category. Was this a fluke or a sign of things to come? Bess is too talented to let the opportunity that has arrisen go by the wayside. With Johnson gone, Bess has a shot to become a legitimate number one for Miami. He has speed, length and hands to go with the fact that, for the first time in his career, there isn't a proven receiver ahead of him to hold him back. This is his make or break season and he needs to step up his game to show he is worthy of being a number one receiver. He went undrafted out of Hawaii, so he never really had much pressure. We don't know how Bess will play when the bright lights are on, but I believe we will see a guy who loves the spotlight. He may have taken a while to breakout, but it sure will be worth the wait for Dolphins fans.
New England Patriots- Ras-I Dowling
The Patriots headline grabbers are the offensive signings they made during the offseason. The Pats biggest addition is someone who has been on the roster the whole time. Forget Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth, and Jabar Gaffney, Dowling is the one who will have the most impact in 2012. The Pats pass defense was atrocious in 2011, ranking second to last in the NFL. Dowling has blistering speed (4.4 40 at the combine) and big play making ability. The only down side is he is injury prone. He came out of college with a history of getting hurt and that happened week 2. After injuring his hip, Dowling missed the rest of the 2011 season. He has impressed many people in the Pats organization with his work ethic and his commintment to get back to pre injury form. He is trying to prove doubters who say that Belichick wasted a pick on this guy. This will be the year that Dowling proves he is a crucial asset to a favorite in the AFC.
Buffalo Bills- Scott Chandler
No doubt the Bills were paying attention when New England ran the league into the ground with their tight ends. They, like everyone else in the league, will do their best to duplicate it. Here is where Chandler comes into play. For the most part, Scott Chandler has never been known as a pass catching tight end. Last season he broke out of his shell a little bit. He may have only had 389 yards for the season, but he faded hard when Jackson was hurt and Fitzpatrick was playing well below average. Both players are 100 percent again and they will bring Chandler to a consistent season that looks like the first couple weeks of 2011. In the first three weeks, Chandler has already reeled in three touchdown passes. He looked like he was going to be a legitamite redzone threat. Chandler may not have the best skill set in the NFL, but he is big and has great hands. He can make room for himself off the line and get open in crucial situations. The Bills have said that they will use the no huddle offense more often to create mismatches for Chandler. Look for his stats to blow through the roof in 2012. He might not have Gronk numbers, but he will emerge as a serious threat and could even get to double digit touchdowns.
New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson
The second year player out of Temple is looking to make a huge impact on a retooled Jets defense. New York has very high praise from what Wilkerson has show them in camp so far. In his rookie season, he had 49 tackles, three sacks, and nine stuffs. Not bad for a guy who playing out of the MAC. Wilkerson may have had some bad media come out when he got into an accident on the Garden State Parkway, but he has the mettle to push through bad media stories and continue to thrive on the football field. Jets coaches are claiming that Wilkerson could become as good at his position as Revis is at cornerback. Although that is a tall order, it is far from an overstatement. Wilkerson is so good that the Jets are switching to a 4-3 defense just so they can use him as much as they possibly can. According to the coaches, Wilkerson will be playing 80 percent of the defensive snaps. More snaps equals more stats for this guy. This is going to be a breakout year for him, and the Jets are more than happy to have him. Oh, by the way, Tim Tebow.