Let’s dig into the AFC East weekend mailbag.
Greg Z from Syracuse, N.Y., writes: Hi James, we have been Dolphins fans since we met Larry Csonka years ago. Stephen Ross is a billionaire owner who wants the taxpayers to pay for his upgrades. Ridiculous for a man worth billions! It’s a bad economy and people are hurting unlike Mr. Ross. He is not used to not getting what he wants from politicians.
James Walker: I can see things from both sides. South Florida taxpayers were bamboozled by the Miami Marlins. There’s no nice way to say it. I drive by the huge baseball stadium often and it’s a constant reminder of the bad side of sports teams squeezing public money out of its community. However, I thought the Dolphins mostly went about things the right way in terms of being creative and negotiable with where the money would come from. Ross also agreed to foot a large chunk of the bill. Either way, it should have gone to public vote to let the people decide. But in the end, I think the Marlins’ issue still cuts too deep with politicians.
Walker: It’s a bit of a mystery how Miami plans to use Jordan. He has tremendous athleticism, so the Dolphins could use Jordan in a variety of ways, including at outside linebacker. But Miami drafted Jordan, first and foremost, to get to the quarterback. That is what the Dolphins’ defense lacked outside of Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. Miami also got younger and more athletic at linebacker with free-agent additions Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler to better cover tight ends.
Gerry Ramsey from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: Hello James. I fully agree with you. I'm not a Jets fan in the least but Geno Smith has to be quiet and get off Twitter. He's in NYC. This makes me wonder how far off the one "scout" who wrote his scathing analysis actually was. I'm not sure how long Geno will last there and I'm actually surprised how long Mark Sanchez has. Hopefully David Garrardcan mentor the kid.
Walker: My point was not for Smith to stop talking, but more so to stop responding to critics. It’s a pointless exercise that is getting him nowhere. It also gives off the impression that he’s thin-skinned, which Smith says is not the case. The only thing Smith can do to fix the issue is develop into a leader and win games for the Jets. That should be his focus.
@Robespierre9 via Twitter writes: Business is supply and demand, right? People want Tim Tebow. The NFL, if it was smart, should give the people what they want!
Walker: I think you’re missing my point on Tebow being too popular and influential for his own good. Tebow is a high-character person who will make a difference in the world off the field. However, the immense following, popularity and media coverage he brings doesn’t match his marginal talent as a quarterback. We saw that with New York last season, and teams are afraid to have another Tebow-mania repeat in 2013. Tebow has skills to play in the NFL in some capacity. A case can be made that Tebow can also be a second- or third-string quarterback who continues to develop. But it’s a lot different to bring in Tebow versus a usual backup quarterback.
@MDermody88 via Twitter writes: I’m not sure how you have a guy ranked No. 3 who didn't play last year ahead of Stephon Gilmorewho started 16 games?
Walker: People forget things quickly in the NFL, and I understand because it is such a year-to-year league. However, Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes was a Pro Bowl cornerback two seasons ago before his knee injury. I’m projecting that Grimes could return close to that form. Gilmore hasn’t reached his ceiling and still has some learning to do.
Ken from Montrealwrites: Is Da'rick Rogers the best undrafted wide receiver to come out of collage this year?
Walker: Rogers has the most natural talent, but he also has the most baggage of the undrafted free agents. The Bills are taking in a lot of character risks this year, but they are trying to win and hope players like Rogers can stay out of trouble.
Richie Thompson from Chicago, Ill., writes: Why is everyone saying Aaron Dobsonisn't fast enough to be a deep threat when he ran a 4.42? That's plenty fast for a deep threat. I just don't know what people are looking at.
Walker: I’m not sure where you are reading about Dobson. But part of the reason the Patriots drafted him in the second round was due to his big-play ability. Dobson is fast enough to get behind the defense and athletic enough to make big plays. His highlight reel has a lot of one-handed catches.
V.Coatee from Seattle, Wash.,writes: Please continue to make your game-by-game predictions. Your picks are a valuable extension of your writing on the AFC East. It takes objectivity and skill to keep track of all the match-ups and other factors that go into predicting outcomes. Rather than feeling annoyed by your success, I feel challenged to see if I can do as well.
Walker: I’m still debating the issue. I’ve done it successfully two years in a row for the AFC East, but I’m leaning toward taking this season off. I think I want to make one season prediction on who will win the AFC East after training camp and lay off weekly predictions for a bit. Let's see how I feel in September.