Seven-step drop: Aqib Talib's impact
November, 12, 2012
By James Walker | ESPN.com
The AFC East went 1-3 on Sunday. Here are seven notes and observations on the division:
- After watching the New England Patriots' secondary stumble over itself against the Buffalo Bills, the acquisition of Aqib Talib could not have come at a better time. The talented but troubled corner is off suspension Monday and expects to make his debut next weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. New England’s defense allowed 20 passing first downs, and Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns in New England's 37-31 victory. The Patriots' secondary appeared to be a lost cause. But Talib has the talent to inject new life into this awful group. His man-to-man cover skills also provide more options for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
- Even Patriots fans must admit that Sunday's game was poorly officiated. The Bills were on the short end of several blown calls, which are costly in a close game. In all, the Bills were penalized 14 times for 148 yards, which is twice as much as New England (seven penalties, 73 yards). This certainly doesn’t quell the notion that the Patriots, because of their winning reputation, get the benefit of the doubt from officials.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Tony GutierrezThe Patriots hope cornerback Aqib Talib can provide a boost to their secondary.
- The Bills might be without the services of starting running back Fred Jackson in their next game. Jackson was belted late by Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes and is suffering from "concussion-like symptoms," according to Bills coach Chan Gailey. Buffalo plays against the Miami Dolphins Thursday. That's probably too quick of a turnaround for Jackson.
- Jackson's injury means more carries for backup tailback C.J. Spiller. He only got nine carries against the Patriots, but it still resulted in 70 yards. Spiller is the kind of dynamic tailback who can give the Dolphins a lot of trouble. Miami struggled with a similar player in Tennessee's Chris Johnson, who ran for 126 yards and a touchdown. Johnson broke a 22-game streak of Miami not allowing a 100-yard rusher.
- Did Dolphins coach Joe Philbin do the right thing by benching Reggie Bush? Yes, Bush made a mistake by fumbling on Miami’s second possession. But was that grounds to keep out your best playmaker until the third quarter? Just about every player made mistakes in Miami’s 37-3 blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions and wasn’t benched. Left tackle Jake Long was beat a few times and called for a holding penalty and wasn’t benched. Philbin clearly wanted to send a message and used Bush, a team leader, to do it. Coaching like this could backfire if Philbin is not careful this season.
- Miami’s upcoming schedule is no joke. The Dolphins (4-5) will face the Bills Thursday, then the Seattle Seahawks (6-4), Patriots (6-3) and San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1). This is why the past two weeks were critical for the Dolphins to pad their record. They already can kiss any chance of making the playoffs goodbye. Miami cannot survive this stretch with the way it is playing. The Dolphins could be 4-9 or 5-8 before you know it.
- It’s scary to think that was the best offense the New York Jets could come up with after two weeks of preparation. New York's defense scored seven points in a loss to Seattle. The Jets only got 11 first downs and were 2-for-12 on third- and fourth-down conversions. Tim Tebow throwing screen passes was the only noticeable wrinkle -- and that’s not innovation. The Jets need to blow up this offense and retool in the offseason.