Week 7 NFL: AFC East Weekly Buzz

Buffalo Bills

After being a healthy scratch for Sunday against the Patriots, wide receiver Mike Williams, a standout in training camp following a trade from Tampa Bay to Buffalo, was embroiled in trade rumors early in the week.

In his first five games as a Bill, Williams caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, 80 of the yards came on his score versus the Houston Texans in week 4. In his place, Chris Hogan, who also plays on special teams, grabbed 5 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.

Though there has been a few days since news of a trade request, the confusion as to why rumors of a potential divorce between the two parties started continues, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak:

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Mike Williams reiterated Wednesday that he is happy in Buffalo despite being deactivated for last week’s game and his agent reaching out to the Bills about the possibility of a trade.

As for the nature of — or the driving force behind — those discussions with the Bills’ front office, it depends on who you ask.

“Mike Williams is not requesting a trade. Mike Williams wants to play,” Williams’ agent, Hadley Engelhard, said Wednesday. “We’re just trying to give Mike an opportunity to play.

“He didn’t want it to come across to his hometown fans that he wants out of there. He doesn’t want out of there. He wants to stay there. He wants to play. But if he’s not going to play there, he wants to play somewhere else.”

Williams did not take a rep with the offense in Wednesday’s practice, a source said. Coach Doug Marrone has not committed to playing Williams in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

General manager Doug Whaley confirmed Monday that he granted Williams’ agent permission to talk to other teams about the possibility of a trade.

“I said, ‘We like Mike Williams. We expect him back and we expect big things from him,’” Whaley said. “But like anybody, if he gets us compensation worthy of a No. 1 receiver – which he claimed he is – then we would entertain it.”

Williams told reporters Wednesday that he did not specifically request a trade and did not tell his agent he wanted to be traded.

“No,” Williams responded when asked if he wanted to be traded. “I always want to be [here]. This is my hometown. This is someplace I always wanted to be.”

Williams delivered a similar message to Marrone.

“Mike told me that [request] came from the agent, not him,” Marrone said Wednesday.

Marrone admitted that the situation may run counter to the “team-first” attitude Marrone wants in the locker room.

“Yeah, I’m not gonna lie [that it's annoying]. Absolutely,” he said Wednesday. “Someone else’s problems all of the sudden become my problems.”

With no reps in the offense on Wednesday and no commitment to play him versus the Vikings on Sunday, it may be Hogan again who plays, as he and Kyle Orton worked well together, as Hogan’s five grabs were on six targets, with the other target being a drop by the receiver. What once looked to be a happy reunion between Williams and his college coach at Syracuse (Marrone) has hit a huge speed bump, but there is still plenty of time left in the season to work itself out.

Lamar Miller 350

Miami Dolphins

The running back position for the Dolphins has taken as many hits as any team outside of the San Diego Chargers has this season. On Tuesday, the team put Knowshon Moreno on the season-ending injured reserve list after he suffered an ACL injury on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Moreno finished the season with 31 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown, 134 of those yards and the score coming against the New England Patriots in a season-opening win. Since the sixth-year running back injured his elbow against the Bills in Week 2 and has had only 7 carries since the opener, the Dolphins are only 1-3, with games against the Chicago Bears (this Sunday), San Diego Chargers (Nov. 2), and Detroit Lions (Nov. 9) looking like potential must-wins in order to stay in the playoff hunt.

On Wednesday, Pro Player Insiders’ Antwan Staley assessed what role Lamar Miller has now with no Moreno in the picture:

Prior to the 2014 season, Miller hasn’t lived up to expectations. The former Miami Hurricane had rushed for 959 yards during his first two seasons in the NFL. So far this season, Miller is having the best season of his career. The former fourth-round pick has rushed for 330 yards on 63 carries in five games this season. Miller is also averaging 5.2 yards per carry with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving.

Miller’s transformation this season, in comparing his two previous seasons, is his running style and catching ability. Previously, Miller would often go down after the first defender touched him. This season, he is breaking more tackles and carrying the ball with a lot more of an edge.

Miller’s catching ability out of the backfield has also improved from his previous seasons. He had a combined 32 catches in his first two seasons in the NFL. Already in five games, Miller has 15 catches and is on pace for a 48 catch and 304 yards receiving season.

Head coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins’ staff will have to adjust their game plan to get Miller more carries. Miller hasn’t had more 15 carries so far this season.  Philbin has been reluctant to give him the carries like an everyday back likely because of Miller’s inconsistency in the past.

With Moreno injured, Miller along with Damien Williams and Daniel Thomas are the only three running backs on the Dolphins roster. So while the Dolphins have been limiting Miller’s carries this season, the team doesn’t have a choice but to give him more carries. Miller certainly has the talent to be an every down back, but needs to show more consistency over an entire season for coaches and fans to be sold. Dolphin fans are finding out if now, finally, it’s ‘Miller Time.’

With a Ryan Tannehill that is currently ranked 29th in QBR, fifth-worst in the league, the run game (6th in the NFL with 136.2 yards per game) and defense (7th in total defense at 331.6 yards per game) appears to have to carry the team at this point. Whether great performances by both groups is good enough to win by itself has not yet yielded consistent results in terms of wins to this point.


New York Jets

At the beginning of last season, the Jets faced the elite cornerback that they traded in the offseason, Darrelle Revis, in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform, a game that New York won, 18-17.

On a short week that has the two AFC East rivals playing tonight, Revis is now playing for the Jets’ arch-nemesis, the New England Patriots. After severely limiting young stars A.J. Green and Sammy Watkins, it looks like the now 29 year old Revis is starting to return to his pre-2012 torn ACL form, when there was no question he was the best cover man in the league.

ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini wrote on Wednesday how head coach Rex Ryan feels about facing the player that helped make his early defenses in New York nearly unbeatable:

Rex Ryan said it was “really weird” seeing Darrelle Revis last season in aTampa Bay Buccaneers uniform. On Thursday night, the New York Jets‘ coach will get an up-close look at his former cornerback wearing the colors of his No. 1 rival, the New England Patriots.

And that will be beyond weird.

“A little sick to my stomach,” Ryan said Tuesday, imagining how he will react.

Jets coach Rex Ryan isn’t relishing the thought of seeing Darrelle Revis in a Patriots uniform Thursday night.

Revis used to be a Ryan guy, and now he’s a Bill Belichick guy. It’s tough to handle for the New York fan base, which considered Revis one of the best players in Jets history. No one feels the loss more than Ryan, whose secondary is in disarray.

Ryan was interested in re-signing Revis last offseason when he was released by the Bucs, according to sources. The feeling was mutual, but the Jets’ front office, which traded him to Tampa Bay in 2013 amid a bitter divorce, never tried to negotiate a homecoming.

Watching him sign with the Patriots was like a kick in the stomach for Ryan, the Jets and their fans.

“Oh, man, I’m not going to go there,” said Ryan, refusing to answer when asked if he wanted to bring back Revis. “Let’s focus on the team right now in front of us, and recognize the guy is an excellent player and plays on someone else’s team. That’s the way it is.”


In recent weeks, the Patriots have used Revis the way he was deployed in New York, matched up against the top receiver. If that’s the case, he’ll be covering Eric Decker a lot Thursday.

“He’s one of the best, if not the best,” Decker said. “It’s going to be, if we have one-on-one matchups at all, it’s going to be tough.”

Geno Smith has struggled with interceptions — seven in six games — so it probably would be wise to avoid Revis’ side. Ryan joked that “not too many are going in that direction.”

The Buffalo Bills stayed away from Revis, targeting Sammy Watkins only three times last week. The result: Only two receptions for 27 yards.

“They call it Revis Island, and it’s still Revis Island,” Jets receiver David Nelson said. “He’s gotten better as he’s gotten older.”

With the player picked to potentially replace Revis, 2013 No.9 selection Dee Milliner, now out with a torn achilles, whether or not passes or thrown in Revis’ direction in Foxboro on Thursday night, Jets coaches, players and fans will think what could have been, especially with the team riding a five-game losing streak.


New England Patriots

While quarterback play elsewhere the division hasn’t improved anywhere besides Buffalo with the switch from E.J. Manuel to Kyle Orton, Tom Brady has returned to his Pro Bowl form the last two games, completing 50 of his 72 passes (69.4%) for 653 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals and Bills in consecutive victories.

With Rob Gronkowski rounding into form (13 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown last two weeks) and Tim Wright developing chemistry with the quarterback (6 catches on 6 targets for 86 yards and two touchdowns last two weeks), the tight end position has been a huge help. At receiver, Julian Edelman has always proven to be reliable the last year and a half, but Brandon LaFell has stepped up with 11 grabs for 236 yards and three touchdowns the last three weeks, giving a player capable of making downfield plays.

Even more explosiveness in the passing game could be on the way for the Patriots in the form of an unheralded but talented young receiver, according to ESPN Boston’s Kyle Brasseur:

Targeted twice in his first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, New England Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms can’t get one of the throws out of his mind.

No, it isn’t the 43-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady that marked the first score of his career. Instead, it’s the incomplete pass from Brady on the team’s first series that Tyms just can’t seem to get over.

“I kind of was over the touchdown once we got on the plane,” Tyms said. “I missed the first one in the first series. Even though I may have caught a touchdown, I’m still thinking about the other one I left out there. With this league, you can’t stay too much on what you just did. It’s what you’re going to do next.”

Earning rave reviews from head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels earlier this week, it appears that Tyms will get his shot at an encore Thursday night against the New York Jets. After being suspended the first four games of the season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug that he said was an uncleared prescription for Adderall, Tyms is hoping to carve a permanent role for himself on the team moving forward.

“You can just go down that whole locker room over there, there’s playmakers all the way down there, including down here,” Tyms said. “It’s like when you get the ball, you have to make a play because you never know. Tom gives it to everybody. Everybody is needed on this offense.

“I’m still waiting my turn. I’m behind a lot of really, really, really, really good wide receivers. It’s all part of patience, all part of development. I’m not the best. I’ve got a long way to go to get there. I’ll take whatever steps I need to take or whatever steps Josh or Bill feel I need to take. I’ll take those steps, I couldn’t care less. As long as we’re winning, as long as I can contribute in any way, whether it’s practice squad or roster.”

A deep threat at any given time because of his speed, Tyms said it meant a lot that Brady showed enough trust in him to give him a second chance on Sunday. The fact that he took advantage of that chance could go a long way for the second-year receiver.

“It just showed me that he believed in me,” Tyms said. “That’s one of the points of emphasis I tried to work on coming here, to let the quarterback know that, ‘Hey, if you want to throw it deep and I’m running, just throw it and I’ll try my best with everything I’ve got to go get it.’”

Of course, it’s the one he didn’t get that he’s going to dwell on.

“I’m happy you guys noticed the one I caught, but the one that I missed. That’s the one in the back of my mind,” Tyms said.

With three straight home games before a bye in Week 10, Tyms and Brady will have plenty of time to gain more trust and opportunities to connect through more practice time and plays called for him. If he can produce, the Patriots offense will have very little trouble in continuing their recent success.


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