Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Guys You Don't Know (But You Should) 2013 AFC East Edition

It has been a long time, but we at SportsEnvy are finally back after a nearly two month hiatus.  What better way to come back than with our most popular article series?  For those of you readers who aren't familiar, every year we break down one player from each team that may have been a big name before and fell from grace, or one that you may not know but is going to have a big year this season.  The NFL is a crazy sport that will have unpredictable stories that are hard to believe.  Take last year, of the top five rushers in the sport, two were coming off major knee surgery, two were rookies (one a sixth rounder) and the other was Marshawn Lynch.  JJ Watt became the most fear sack artist in the game.  Patrick Peterson may have stolen top cornerback from a hobbled Darrell Revis.  Richard Sherman made it a three man debate.  All of these players were not household names at the start of the 2012 season.

Today we take a look at the AFC East.  There were many departures from teams in this division.  Wes Welker is off to catch passes from Peyton Manning in Denver.  Aaron Hernandez won't be playing football for a very long time.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer taking snaps up in Buffalo.  The Dolphins lost their former number one overall pick Jake Long and their starting running back Reggie Bush.  The Jets, well, the Jets lost whatever they had left.  This division may be cut and dry as to who the top players are (Dolphins; Patriots) and who the bottom feeders are (Bills; Jets), but you never know in this league.  These next four players should have a sudden impact on these teams if everything goes to plan.

Buffalo Bills- Kyle Williams DE
Williams had somewhat of a decent season for Buffalo in 2012.  With the addition of Mario Williams he got to take advantage of less double teams and showed off his skills.  The issue is that he had to play hurt for most of the year.  Kyle Williams has been fighting foot problems since college and has finally got them fixed.  He had major surgery to take care of the bone spurs in the left foot in 2011 and got the bones spurs in his right foot fixed this February.  He is now walking correctly on his two feet for the first time in his career.  This guy got five sacks on one foot last season.  Think about what his untapped potential is going to be.  Also, the new system brought in by Mike Pettine will only help the seven year veteran.  Williams turns thirty this year and is going to learn a ton from Pettine's system.  Pettine learned from Rex Ryan who, no matter how crazy he might seem, is one of the best defensive minds in the entire NFL.  I expect Williams to blow past his numbers that he put up in 2010 (all career highs for him) and fully expect him to show off that he is a force to be reckoned with, especially against a certain future hall of fame division rival.

New York Jets- Chris Ivory RB
Ivory has been buried on the depth chart in New Orleans for years.  Since 2010, he has been trying to overcome the likes of Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram (both Heisman Trophy winners), Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproiles, Julius Jones and Ladell Betts.  He led the team in rushing in his rookie year, yet seemed to never get a true chance since.  He missed the first half of last season due to injury and was too far behind the temporary regime that New Orleans had together last season.  So what makes that a reason why he is going to break out?  If he wasn't able to take the starting position then there has to be a reason for it, right?  He is coming into an organization with a lot of offensive questions, but he will come in and answer the call when it comes to rushing the ball.  It is no secret that Mark Sanchez is not the best quarterback in the league (he is a lot closer to the worst actually) and Rex Ryan is losing faith in the former 5th overall pick.  This shows that Ryan will lean more heavily on the running game.  Ivory has the pure talent to carry this Jets team on his back and can even get defenses off the back of Sanchez.  He has the ability to make his own plays and can break a few tackles before he is off to the races.  He has a better yards per carry than most of the league.  He even has an above average pass catching ability, even if it wasn't used much in NO.  He will be a decent check down option for Sanchez on later downs.  He may come into the team without much experience, but he will be a vital part of where the Jets go this season.  They may be missing a lot of talent, but Ivory could help the Jets become somewhat respectable in 2013.

New England Patriots- Rob Ninkovich DE
 The Patriots have been in the news for a little over a month now.  First with the signing of Tim Tebow, then with the arrest of TE Aaron Hernandez.  The Patriots may start the season without their top five receiving leaders with Hernandez released, Gronkowski hurt, Welker in Denver, Woodhead in San Diego and Brandon Lloyd was also let go.  They replaced them with cheap options and rookies.  With all this showing that it will be hard for the Brady Bunch to lead the world in passing like they always do it seems as if they will lean on the defense a little more than they usually do.  That is where Ninkovich comes to play.  They have a new look secondary with Devin McCourtey at free safety, Talib coming back to play corner, a full season of Alfonso Denard and veteran Adrian Wilson at the other safety spot.  Teams will need to think before they throw against them for the first time in a long time.  That hesitation is all Ninkovich will need to clobber the quarterback.  He showed to be a reliable hybrid player and made himself a threat.  He has raised his sack total in every year since he came to New England and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon.  He sacked the QB eight times in 2012, and I fully expect that to get to double digits in 2013.  Ninkovich was at his best when it mattered.  He got six of his ten sacks (including two in the AFC Championship Game) against teams that made the playoffs in 2012.  He likes to play the best, and he will get the chance to this season. 
The Pats defense will be talked about as a Patriot strength rather than a weakness.  Ninkovich will make himself known finally and will be spotlighted on this defense once again.

Miami Dolphins- Richard Marshall CB
The Dolphins were more than busy this offseason.  They signed Mike Wallace to give Ryan Tannehill the deep threat his big arm needs, while also keeping their slot guy Brian Hartline.  They traded up to pick Dion Jordan with the third overall pick.  They also took a chance on Brett Grimes, who missed most of the season with a Achilles injury.  Grimes is not the cornerback that we should be looking at when the Dolphins debut the new logos in week one, we should be paying attention to Richard Marshall.  He looked like he was on his way to a career year before he went down with a back injury.  He was on pace for twenty deflected passes on the season, which would have put him as fifth best in the league in that category.  He is a formidable second option and will be more than motivated this season.  There are whispers that he has to perform this season or he may lose his roster spot.  He will be battling Jamar Taylor to be opposite Grimes when the Fins take the field against the Cleveland Browns on September 8th.  I fully expect him to come out with a fire lit under him to show that he cannot be replaced and play mad that anyone even flirted with the idea that someone could do his job better.  He will break out after seeming to be on cruise control over the past four or five seasons.

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