Miami Dolphins

#FridayBag: A boy named Suh?

NBC Sports Boston illustration

#FridayBag: A boy named Suh?

Each week, Phil Perry and Mike Giardi answer you Patriots questions in a joint mailbag, or FridayBag as they call it. Got a question? Tweet at them using the hashtag #FridayBag. Now on to this week's edition: 

MG: Pete, I’ve heard nothing but good things about him so far but have just started to roll up my sleeves and get heavier into the draft. Mentioned him earlier and was also told he is a good touch passer. He’s a ways away, but if Brady keeps rolling on, there’s no rush.

MG: Jacob, you think yes, I think yes, and most of my Twitter timeline is in agreence as well. Is Belichick? Man, you have to think he’s right there with us that an upgrade at that position is needed. Roberts is a guess guy capable of a play here or there but not nearly consistent enough nor - in my opinion - talented enough to be in the middle of that defense. I think the other issue here is 54 himself. I don’t know how you can count on Dont’a Hightower to be there at the end. His body has been battered dating back to college. It’s what scared other teams off in free agency. Yet it’s hard to manage him because he’s clearly one of your best players. I’d love to see that whole group get power washed.

MG: If Bill thinks a deal is what’s best for the team, he’ll do it, last year be damned. Every year is different. He tells us that all the time. As for Suh, I hope not. I know folks in Miami said he was better behaved this year but the year prior he was a pain in the ass who played when he felt like it. Plus, from an interior defensive line standpoint, the Pats are ok. Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy are nice players. Vincent Valentine will return next year. I’d worry more about the edge guys and the linebacker level.

MG: Let’s go case by case here, Joe. Belichick wanted to retain Hicks. Even called him right before Chicago scooped him up. But finances played a role as did - I suspect  the freedom Hicks was going to get with the Bears. Sheard did a terrific job in year one with the Pats. Year two started off poorly though to the player’s credit he rebounded after that benching for the San Fran game. I think that was a situation where the lack of an extension may have distracted the player, like it certainly did for Malcolm Butler this year. Finally, you’re lamenting Akeem Ayers? No. Just no.

As for Marsh and Harris, yep, those were two swings and misses though Harris was lauded for his professionalism. You don’t hit ‘em all out of the park but yes, there’s a greater need to get it right this offseason when you consider some of the depth issues they face.

PP: He does, Sugar Shane. Re-signing Solder, in my opinion, is the most important move the Patriots could make this offseason. Only finding the next quarterback comes close. Danny Amendola, Matthew Slater, Dion Lewis . . . they're all critical to the operation. But if the Patriots don't re-sign Solder, I'm not sure there is an answer to the void left behind at left tackle. We went over the other options in our Depth Chart series here, but none of them are all that encouraging. 

PP: None of the above, ML. He's left the NCAA, and he's in this year's draft. 

PP: Hey, Joe and William. I don't think the Patriots will be spending big money at corner in free agency this year. They have their No. 1 in Stephon Gilmore, and I believe they'll try to piece together the other spots with what they have in Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones. If they do go the free-agency route, I could see them going with an inexpensive outside-the-numbers option (maybe Vontae Davis) or a slot corner who won't break the bank. Callahan, who is a restricted free agent, would be a fascinating option in that regard. An undrafted rookie out of Rice in 2015, he dealt with an injury that forced him to miss more than a month, but he was one of the league's more effective slot corners when he was on the field, according to Pro Football Focus. The Patriots have shown in the past that they're not afraid to delve into the RFA market. As far as linebacker goes, this is another spot where spending big money doesn't make a ton of sense, in my opinion. Nigel Bradham, as Giardi has pointed out, would be a great fit as an athletic 'backer who can cover, but there will be competition for his services. Adding Navorro Bowman would allow Dont'a Hightower to kick down onto the edge, one would think. And Bowman is 29 with a long injury history so he probably won't demand huge dollars. Old friend Jon Bostic, who's only 26, could be a cost-effective option to play off the line as well. They'll have enough dough to spend on a couple of pieces, it's just a matter of figuring out which pieces.

PP: DQ! I think Curran would win the first 10 yards. He's explosive. Not sure his long speed is what it used to be, though. I'll give the edge to Brady in the 40-yard dash. Longer strides. 

PP: The Patriots have all kinds of respect for Landry's on-the-field ability. Not only is he fearless in the way he works out of the slot, but he provides special teams value, and defensive backs have referred to him as one of the toughest receivers in the league to bring down when he has the football in his hands. But because Landry is the most accomplished wideout on the market this offseason, his price tag is going to be through the roof. Belichick could try to find his next slot in the draft. There are a handful we'll touch on in our recevier installment of the Depth Chart series next week. Like you said, Matt, you never know. But I'd be very surprised if they made a play for Landry. 


Bills end 17-year playoff drought with win and help


Bills end 17-year playoff drought with win and help

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - The Buffalo Bills ended the longest current non-playoff drought in North American pro sports with a 22-16 victory Sunday at Miami and Cincinnati's victory at Baltimore. The Bills hadn't made the postseason since 1999.

Buffalo (9-7) will travel to Jacksonville next weekend in a wild-card game. Click here for more. 


Chiefs clinch second consecutive AFC West title with win over Dolphins


Chiefs clinch second consecutive AFC West title with win over Dolphins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Andy Reid addressed the Kansas City Chiefs in a jubilant locker room dressed from head-to-toe in a Santa Claus suit, which not only fit him perfectly but was also perfectly fitting.

The Chiefs had just given their fans quite a present.

Alex Smith threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in another steady performance, Kareem Hunt ran for 91 yards and a score, and the Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 29-13 on Sunday to clinch back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history.

"Just phenomenal," Reid said, likely smiling beneath his fluffy white beard. "But we're not going to sit on this. We're not done yet. We're going to enjoy the holiday and get right back at it."

Tyreek Hill had six catches for 109 yards, and Harrison Butker converted five field goals, as the Chiefs (9-6) dashed what faint postseason hope the Dolphins (6-9) still harbored.

"It's hard to win football games only kicking field goals," Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler said. "A couple fumbles, couple of missed opportunities here, a penalty when we're driving - it's those types of things that'll hurt you."

Cutler threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, but a big chunk of that came on a 65-yard toss to Jakeem Grant late in the first half. Otherwise, Miami went 0 for 8 on third down and struggled against a Chiefs defense that has been stingy and opportunistic the past two weeks.

That's coincided with the return of Marcus Peters from his disciplinary suspension.

The Chiefs' star cornerback had two interceptions and forced a fumble against the Chargers last week, a win that pushed them to the brink of the playoffs. He recovered a fumble and forced another on Sunday, giving Peters a hand in five turnovers the past two weeks.

"He's always around the ball," said Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who forced the first fumble. "Marcus is always playing with fire, this whole year."

Both turnovers led to points, but they weren't the Dolphins' only costly miscues.

They also were nailed for defensive holding four times, all of which came on three scoring drives for Kansas City. And the Dolphins inability to get off the field on third down, after holding opponents to 8 for 39 the past two games, was similarly deflating.

"Got in a couple situations that we couldn't use some of the things that we had planned," Miami coach Adam Gase said. "We just need to find a way to be consistent and get them off the field."

Still, the Dolphins had the ball trailing 17-13 late in the first half, the outcome and their longshot playoff hopes were still in the balance. But they soon went three-and-out and the Chiefs added a field goal to make it 20-13 at the break, then another to start the second half.

Even when the Dolphins made a crucial stop on fourth down to get the ball back later in the third quarter, they squandered the opportunity. Peters stripped Kenny Stills to give the Chiefs the ball, and Butker hit his fourth chip-shot field goal for a 26-13 lead with 12:19 to go.

That gave a sparse crowd that turned out on Christmas Eve, braving slick roads from an overnight snowfall and frigid wind chills at kickoff, plenty of time to celebrate a division title.

Turn their thoughts toward a home playoff game in the new year, too.

"It's a great feeling," Hunt said. "We've got these fans that are going to go crazy for the playoff game, and we get to play in Arrowhead Stadium one more time."