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Around the AFC East: Week One

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Ready for an exciting weekly off-season feature, Buffalo Bills fans?  Last year - with much different personnel - the four SB Nation AFC East bloggers swapped questions each week in a little feature we called "Around the AFC East".  This year, only two of the bloggers remain the same - Matty I from The Phinsider and myself.  We're pleased to be joined by MaPatsFan, who has taken over operations of Pats Pulpit, and Brian Bassett, who doesn't write for SB Nation, but runs the best Jets blog on the 'net over at The Jets Blog.

So it's now time to let your blood get up, Bills fans.  We're talking to the enemy here.  It's time to listen to, learn from, and then analyze the three teams that are our most bitter of rivals.  Here are the questions from week one:

  Trade rumors have circled Jason Taylor throughout the off-season while he's been "getting in shape for football season".  What's his current status with the team?  Will he be traded?  Should he be traded?

  The Phinsider: It's OK, Brian.  You can call it what it is: dancing.  Taylor has been dancing this off-season instead of working out with the team.  And I think I've finally come to terms with it.

As far as his status with the team, things are getting ugly in a hurry.  On Wednesday, Tony Sparano announced that he's been informed that Taylor will not be at training camp.  According to various media reports, Taylor has demanded a trade on many occasions and he will not report to camp unless that camp is with another team.

It'll be interesting to see who blinks first.  Remember, Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland were reportedly looking for at least a 2nd round pick for Taylor leading up to the draft.  If they take anything less in a deal for Jason, we'll know that this front office caved.  Taylor, meanwhile, will be fined for every day he misses training camp.  If he ends up showing for camp at some point, we'll know he caved.

But if you ask me, Jason is handling this situation all wrong.  He's been basically flat-out lying about his plans.  He claimed that he would be in camp and learn the new defense and that all this off-season crap would be forgotten about.  Apparently, that's not so.  And this severely tarnishes his legacy in Miami, at least in my eyes.

I agree that it's pretty clear at this point that Taylor will be traded. The Jacksonville Jaguars have long been rumored as the team most willing to make a move; since the Bills play the Jaguars, however, I'd pull for a trade completely out of the conference. Maybe to the Lions or something. I'm sure Matty I and the Dolphins franchise feel similarly - it'd be a bad idea to trade Taylor to a team they may eventually play.

  I hate doing this, but I almost have to ask about Spygate at this point.  What is your view as a fan on this matter?  Do you feel slighted by your team and/or the NFL? What's the general feeling amongst the Pats fan base?  Will this issue ever be put to bed?

  Pats Pulpit: No you don't, you don't hate asking me. ;-)  You like seeing me write yet another post to this question.  My view as a fan is as if my brother was sent to jail.  I wanna punch him for doing this to our family, but shake his hand in support.  I don't necessarily feel slighted by my team, but by Belichick.  He didn't need to do this; the 2007 season proved that.  He had the talent on the field to deliver, but chose to reach for that elusive razor thin edge and got caught.  Which leads me to the NFL.  They totally botched this thing.  The penalties and fines levied by the NFL were for the entirety of Belichick's career as head coach, not for just the Jets game.  Had Goodell been clear about that up front, we could've avoided a boatload of crapola.

The general feeling amongst the Pats fan base is a mixed bag.  Some will defend BB to the ends of the earth without giving an opposing viewpoint 1 nanosecond in their homeristic brains.  Many of the bloggers on PatsPulpit are coming around to the fact Belichick may have been less than pristine.  But, there's certainly enough evidence to prove other teams have cheated, just not with the hubris Belichick has.  After Rooney and Polian essentially said we need to move on, something seemed rotten in Denmark.  The message to get past this was coming from the unlikeliest of places - hated rivals.  I am convinced this will never go away.  I am convinced Pats fans will forever be defending their team.

I don't necessarily feel bad for Pats fans here - in fact, I don't feel bad for Pats fans at all - but it is important to realize that they've sort of been shafted by their head coach. I think MaPatsFan is correct in assessing the blame directly to Belichick, and not the franchise itself. Belichick's legacy is tainted. The Pats' Super Bowl run(s) is (are) tainted, whether Pats fans will admit it or not. And that's it. I'm done talking about Spygate forever.

  A lot of draft forecasts had the Jets making moves to land Matt Ryan and especially Darren McFadden; obviously, you ended up with Vernon Gholston.  Would you have preferred a McFadden, and is Gholston merely a consolation prize in your mind?

  The Jets Blog: At six, I have no doubt that Chris Long was on the top of the Jets' board and I firmly believe that the Jets were laying groundwork for whoever fell to them.  In terms of picking, Glenn Dorsey would have been a worst-case scenario, with Matt Ryan a close second.  The team was rumored to have been interested in trading up to two with the Rams, a clear move for Chris Long, not Ryan.  Any interest leaked on Ryan was in my mind, the Jets were trying to make a business case for teams like Baltimore, Carolina or Chicago to move up to six should Ryan still be available.  

I had resigned myself to McFadden at six, but I really wanted Gholston, as he better fit a need that the team hasn't been able to address since the departure of John Abraham in finding a pure pass rusher.  Last year the Jets had one of the worst pass-rushes in the league, and only had 29 sacks, many of which came after the bye week, when Mangini was rumored to have taken over calling the defensive plays.  Between Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and Jesse Chatman, the team has decent running backs for the next two plus years.  McFadden would have given the team a playmaker, but they got a different sort at the end of the first with Dustin Keller.  Adding McFadden wasn't something I wouldn't have minded, but the team had more pressing matters, and was able to address those needs with Gholston.

I still maintain that I'm glad the Jets didn't nab McFadden - can you imagine having to shut down Ronnie Brown, Laurence Maroney and Darren McFadden six times a season? - but Gholston is going to be good for the Jets. They were sort of forced to select him, but Gholston won't have the pressure of needing to stop the run every down as a rookie, and he'll be able to do what he does best - get after the quarterback. Factor in the additions of DT Kris Jenkins and LB Calvin Pace, and the Jets may have found themselves a pretty formidable front seven.

Be sure to check in at The Phinsider, Pats Pulpit and The Jets Blog throughout the day for the rest of Week 1's Around the AFC East activity.