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Around the AFC East

Welcome back to Buffalo Rumblings for another installment of "Around the AFC East". Each week, Buffalo Rumblings asks one question of the rest of SB Nation's three fantastic AFC East blogs, The Phinsider, Pats Pulpit and NY Landing Strip. Without further ado, here are the latest rumblings from the AFC East:

Trent Green is used to using a tight end in his offense, but you guys let Randy McMichael walk this off-season. Who will be your starting tight end, and how do you think Cam Cameron will utilize that position in your offense?

The Phinsider: Ah yes, the cutting of Randy McMichael. It was one of the most talked about issues amongst Dolphin fans. Everyone keeps asking why the Dolphins did that. Well, it's pretty simple. He was making too much money, first of all, and wasn't worth it. McMichael is a pretty good all-around tight end. He can block well for a tight end. He has some speed for a tight end. His hands were alright, I guess. But he did tend to drop some passes. All in all, he was a pretty good tight end to have. However, for Cam's system, McMichael wasn't the right fit.

The thing with a Cam Cameron offense is that he rarely ever keeps the tight end in to block (see Antonio Gates). What he does is really utilize the fullback in pass protection, which is why they signed Cory Schlesinger. So then what Cam and Randy Mueller went out to do was find a tight end who is faster than McMichael and who has more reliable hands. And that brings me to the signing of David Martin, formerly of Green Bay.

Martin is a guy who, because of some injury issues, never had a truly effective season. His best year, 2005, he saw action in 12 games, catching 27 passes for 224 yards and 3 TDs. Hardly an effective season, for sure. But Martin has a tone of upside. He's got great speed and quickness for a tight end, which will allow him be a true threat down the middle of the field. He also has very good hands, which is likely to make him a favorite target of Trent Green. As further evidence, I also offer you this article from that ranks Martin as one of the top 10 players who will break out this season. Only time will tell, though.

Not buying it. If any player is going to "break out", there needs to be one thing in place: a quality offensive line. That holds especially true when Trent "Statue" Green is your quarterback. I do think Martin is an upgrade over McMichael (who was vastly overrated), but again - his stats won't be great because Green will spend more time on his back than hitting Martin.

What's your take on Tedy Bruschi? Is he still a legitimate top-tier linebacker, or is he beginning to show his age? Do you think he'll hold down a starting job as long as he's a Patriot, or will he be challenged for his starting role?

Pats Pulpit: There's no doubt he's starting to show his age. Top tier? I think there are plenty of people (outside the AFC East) who never considered him a top-tier linebacker. Do you know how many Pro Bowls he's been to? One.

Insane, isn't it? One hundred twelve tackles on a team that destroyed its division and ended up going to the AFC Championship, a year removed from a stroke, and he wasn't even a consideration. (And here I am saying he's showing his age.)

Over the last four years, he's had 131, 122, 62 (9 games in stroke-shortened season) and 112 tackles. His sacks have dropped off a bit, from 4.5 in 2002 to 2.0, 3.5, 2.0 and 1.5. He's had just 1 interception in the last two years (after having 6 the two years previous). His pass defenses a down a touch.

So maybe he's lost a step, and probably most people wouldn't know a top-tier linebacker if they were blindsided by one, but anyone who thinks Bruschi is done .. well, I hope the Colts, Chargers, Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Ravens do.

Bruschi might not be quite as good as the 2003-2004 Bruschi, but there are very, VERY few players in the league that play with the desire, the passion, that he does. And that counts for a lot in the NFL.

Incidentally, Bruschi hinted emphatically that his playing days may be nearing an end. I don't think it likely, but it's possible he'll hang up the cleats before the season, and probably 50-50 he will after it, especially if .. well, you know. IF.

Nothing disgusts me more than Tedy Bruschi praise. I respected him as a player (seriously, I did) until ESPN's infatuation of him made him a bit more undesirable. At any rate, Bruschi at this point is obsolete. He's slower, his skills are deteriorating and that doesn't bode well for Belichick's complex scheme. Au revoir, Tedy - enjoy your last season chasing Marshawn Lynch from behind.

How would you describe the Jets' defensive philosophies? Is Eric Mangini going to run a base 3-4 or 4-3 defense, or is he aiming to be Belichick Junior with multiple defensive alignments and a variety of personnel?

NY Landing Strip: Mangenious and Co. are going to be running a base 3-4 defense in the Belichick junior sort of way. The NFL is a copycat league, and this is the case of disciple following master's design. One big reason that you can tell they are going to continue running a 3-4 is the signing of 10-15 DE/LB'ers this past off-season.

They want variety, confusion, blitzing, dropping into coverage, and all sorts of wackiness to puzzle the QB. It is going to confuse people on the other side of the ball, even though I feel the Jets are still a few key pieces away from having a good 3-4 defense. The previous 5 years of the Herm Era, they were predicated on a 4-3, thus all their selections in the draft and free agency were 4-3. Like everything else, with time the d should gel smoothly into the 3-4.

First off - may I express my utter disdain for the "nickname" of "Mangenius"? Listen, Jets fans - you won ten games against a cupcake schedule. You're not going anywhere this year when you actually play good competition. Let's call him a genius when he does something worthy of recognition. I digress - I'm still skeptical about the Jets' defense. They have indeed added a lot of players, but the two most important of those are Darrelle Revis and David Harris - and they are still rookies. Maybe someday, Jets fans... but for now, your "Genius" coach still has a lot of work to do.

Be sure to check out The Phinsider, Pats Pulpit and NY Landing Strip for the rest of the "Around the AFC East" features today.