Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC East blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join Walker Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Welcome to our latest AFC East chat. There's a lot to talk about. So let's get right to it.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)
Do you have any inkling if Stevie Johnson WANTS to remain a Bill?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Yes, Steve Johnson has said repeatedly that he wants to be a Bill. He likes it there and it's the only team willing to take a chance on him a few years ago. I think that sticks with him. But what also sticks is money. Johnson hasn't made much in his career as a former seventh-round pick and it's time to cash in. Buffalo feels it has a good idea what Johnson is worth to the team and right now both sides are apart.
James, I've been working at work today (boo) but I just heard Mike Nolan got hired by the Falcons?! Truth?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Yes, Scott. Mike Nolan is the new defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. I think it was a big loss for Miami. But I understand Nolan leaving. He wasn't going to sit around not knowing if the new head coach -- whoever that is -- would be interested in bringing him back. Nolan took a good job when he had the chance. Smart move on his part. The Dolphins need to stop fiddling around.
Do you think this year could be the year buffalo makes a splash in free agency? if so could you predict a couple of possibilities?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
According to Bills GM Buddy Nix, yes. I'm taking a wait-and-see approach for two reasons. First, Buffalo rarely makes a splash in free agency. So I need to see it, not just hear it. Second, it's a challenge to get big names to Buffalo. It's easy to say money talks. But plenty of teams have money, especially if you're a big-name free agent. If Buffalo is offering $20 million and San Diego or Chicago are offering $20 million, it makes it hard to come to Buffalo. I've seen that happen for years in Cleveland where the Browns had to overpay to get free agents. That's the reality of the situation.
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Will the Bills overpay to get some big names? That's what I want to see.
Mark (Perth, Australia)
Hey James. Is it too early for the pats to resign gronk and hernandez? they're unplayable at times and i'd hate to see an asante samuel type situation in a year or two. is it too early or should the pats protect themselves now?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
Good question. The answer is I think it's too soon. Both players just completed their second years. I think maybe next season it would make sense. But if the Patriots extend one, it would be Gronkowski. The guy is 22 and will be a stud for a very long time. I actually think Hernandez has a better chance of leaving in a couple years and getting a better offer and a starting job elsewhere. I don't see how New England can pay both TEs a ton of money. But that's not an issue for a while.
Ray Lewis (Baltimore)
How many points does our defense need to limit the Patriots offense to in order to win?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Rey, first congrats on making it to another AFC title game. This is a tough question. New England's D has been awful but played well last week. I would say 21 points is a safe number. If youre defense can hold the Patriots to 21 points, I think you can win a 24-21 type of game. If it gets up in the 30s, I don't really see Joe Flacco performing well enough to match that production on the road.
Pissed Off (Homestead, Fl)
James talk me into re-upping my season tickets to see the joke the NFL, my Dolphins, play.
James Walker (4:15 PM)
That's not my job, PO. That's the Dolphins' job. I must say, they're not doing a good job of it right now. I understand why there are so many empty seats at Sun Life Stadium.
Does not having a HC effect our scouting this week during the Senior Bowl and the Shrine games or does that responsibility fall on the GM?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
Good question, Jake. GM Jeff Ireland will be making the picks in Miami. But here's the rub: What system will the Dolphins run? Are they running a West Coast offense? Vertical passing game? A 3-4 or 4-3 defense? The Dolphins are scouting players without knowledge of what they're really looking for. That's why you need a head coach in place to at least know the players you're looking at to fit the system. The Shrine Bowl is this week. But they still have time for the Senior Bowl.
C. Henne (Davie, FL)
Am I crazy to think I could be a starter, or competing for a starting position next year (maybe even with the hometown team)?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
Chad, it's always good to be confident in your abilities. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a starter. By the way, get out of Davie. You're wasting your time there. The Dolphins won't bring you back.
After looking at the AFC East I think its safe to say... GO PATS (for the next 4 years)!
James Walker (4:22 PM)
Well, I tend to take things year-to-year. Right now, it looks like the Pats will be the favs going into next season. As long as Bill Belichick is the coach and QB Tom Brady is healthy, those are two advantages that is tough to match in Buffalo, Miami and New York.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
I think the real question in the AFC East is which team is poised for No. 2? The Jets had that spot for three years now. Buffalo could be decent if it spends money like the team says it will. And Miami has a solid roster but poor direction up top. The race behind New England is interesting.
I assume hiring Tony "Ground and Pound" Sparano puts to rest any ridiculous notion the Jets were going to jettison Sanchez for Manning. Lets give this guy a real RT, an add'l WR and speed RB and see what he can do in year 4...
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Can you imagine Tony Sparano coaching Peyton Manning? Wow. Talk about differences in philosphy. Sparano would have Manning handing off the ball 40 times or running the Wildcat. Not a good match. Anyway, yes the Jets need a few peices that you mentioned. I would start at right tackle and go from there.
Tony (Erie PA)
Do you think that Shawne Merriman makes it out of training camp this year without being cut? If so do you see him as only coming in the game for passing situations?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
It really all depends on Merriman's rehab. How stable is his Achilles, which has been an issue for a couple years now? If he's healthy the Bills want and need him. If he's not, he really can't do anything to help the team.
bill (vegas) [via mobile]
What is wrong with ross down in miami. Does he even know what he is doing in the nfl. what would u do different with this club?
James Walker (4:29 PM)
Bill, living in Miami I can tell you Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is getting plenty of criticism. Most of it is deserved, but I will say he wants to win and willing to spend money to win. That's half the battle, because some owners aren't willing to go that far. Ross will. But decision-making is so important, and that is where Ross is proving to make a lot of mistakes.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo N.Y.)
James you are of those who believe that I'm not worth the 59 million that paid me? the Bills should find somewhere a true quarterback franchise?
James Walker (4:31 PM)
Ryan, if you've read the AFC East blog, I've made it pretty clear that you have to go out and prove it. I called you the next Kevin Kolb or the next Matt Schaub. It's really up to you what happens.
stephen ross (miami)
help me james, who should I hire?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I mentioned from the beginning that Jeff Fisher was your best choice this year. But you let that slip away. That's all the advice I'm giving. You're on your own.
If that Pats make it to the Super Bowl, which is the lesser of two evils, facing the Niners or Giants?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
I think that's looking ahead. But I think both teams present unique challenges. The defenses are both playing well and that's the biggest thing. But New York's offense also is dangerous with a lot of talented skill players and an experienced quarterback. So I think the Giants are the tougher matchup for the Pats.
Billy (( Kentucky))
James love your work, My Dolphins draging their feet on a new coach, probably cost us losing Mike Nolan, What are your thoughts.
James Walker (4:36 PM)
I just wrote my thoughts in the AFC East blog. Go there and check it out.
Andrew (Rochester, NY)
James, just got home from work. Glad you are still chatting! Any interest in coaching from guys like Brian Billick? Why isn't Miami looking into someone like him?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
To my knowledge, Miami doesn't have any interest in Billick. He doesn't fit the "Young Don Shula" mold that Stephen Ross is looking for. Neither did Jeff Fisher, but Fisher was clearly the best on the market. So Miami started there. Now, I think the Dolphins will go with a younger assistant.
Any chance Flynn comes to Miami?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Yes, there's a chance. Do the Dolphins have the best chance? That's tough to say. There will be a lot of interest in Matt Flynn.
bill (vegas) [via mobile]
would u be interested in going to the fins as a dc if u were steve spag. they seem to have a good defense down there...any thoughts
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Who is there head coach? Who is Spags working on? He wouldn't even know at this point, so there's no reason to accept a job in Miami. The Dolphins need a head coach first before anything else.
RB Miller (Maryland)
Brady is great, but how will NE Patsy Defense stop Ray Rice from eating clock and keeping Brady on the Bench...Ravens Swept Steelers and just beat 49'rs.....getting no respect vis a vis other teams.
James Walker (4:43 PM)
New England's biggest weakness is its pass defense. Strangly enough, the run defense is decent. Not great, but decent. The Patriots stuffed the No. 1 running team in the NFL last week (Denver). There is potential to do a decent job against Baltimore.
Tony (Erie PA)
With the Bills' lease with Ralph Wilson Stadium up in 2013 what do you think will happen? Rennovations to the current stadium and a new lease? Proposal of an entirely new stadium? Or even relocation (obviously I would hate to see this happen)
James Walker (4:45 PM)
Renovation is the best way to go here. I really don't see Western New York paying for an entirely new stadium. I would be surprised. Renovations is a cost-effective way to update a stadium without tearing it down.
I just want to throw this out there, we (AFCE) were led to believe there was a "Remember last week: Broncos edition" coming up on our blog site... is this still something we can all look forward to?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
Nick, I have been asked about that a couple times and decided to let it go. I've said all last week this was an easy matchup for the Patriots and that's exactly what happened. There's no point in hammering it home more than I need to. So I kept it moving. There's a lot of stuff to cover this week with the AFC Championship.
Johhny Pumpkinface (East Bondlerock)
Hey James! Do you think the Pats will use Hernandez as a running back again this week? thanks hombre
James Walker (4:51 PM)
The Patriots definitely gave the Ravens something to think about. It turns out Aaron Hernandez played a lot of running back in high school. I did not know that until he said it in the locker room Saturday night. He still has the moves.
Rob Grankowski (Gillette's Practice Field)
How good do i play This weekend? considering i'm going against the ravens Defense and Ed reed.
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Are you emailing me from practice? You better put that phone away. BTW, I think you will have a big game.
In fielding questions from local media early last week, Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix caught some fans off guard when he said that he'd only be interested in re-signing free agent tight end Scott Chandler "at the right price." What are the chances the bills resign him (and Left tackle Demetrius Bell)?77OL
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I think Nix feels that way about all his free agents. They don't want to overspend. Oftentimes, that happens in free agency because other teams are involved. I like Chandler's fit with the Bills. But I don't think he's a must-have. Buffalo needs Steve Johnson back more than Chandler.
Al (Wausau, WI)
James, would you say that the Patriots' use of Harnandez and Gronkowski indicates exactly how important the tight end position has become in today's NFL?
James Walker (4:58 PM)
I don't think TEs were ever not important. But the type of TEs that are coming to the league now are these athletic, hybrid, almost-WR types. Those TEs are changing the game. There used to only be a couple in the NFL. Now it seems more teams have at least one hybrid type (Gronk, Hernandez, Jimmy Graham).
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time and great questions. We will be back next Tuesday at the same time for another chat.