Q: We’ve seen second-round pick A.J. Epenesa make some serious strides in recent weeks. What have you seen from him out there on the field?
LF: You can see his confidence really growing. The game is definitely not too big for him. He’s beginning to show more and more of his repertoire when it comes to rushing the passer. Just getting a lot more comfortable as he gains confidence about playing in the NFL. You would expect that to be the case as the year goes on with the short training camp that he had and no run up to the season. It's really good to see how he’s beginning to get into a groove and grow as a player.
Q: How impressed were you by the performance of Dane Jackson against the Jets? He came up with a big play on such short notice, it had to be awfully nice to see.
LF: Watching him on the practice squad prepare every week as if he was going to play, so I wasn’t really nervous or overly concerned over whether he would know what to do. It was more so how he would react and handle the ups and downs of the game and the situation. It was really encouraging to watch his play. (Defensive backs coach) John (Butler) did a great job getting him keyed into the game plan. Things happened suddenly. We were expecting Josh (Norman) to play and start for us. And then 48 hours before the game he found out, as a rookie and a guy that’s only been on the practice squad, you’re going to end up starting. So it was a great job by John and a great job by Dane as well going out and playing as well as he played.
Q: You’ve dialed up the pressure a bit more as of late. What’s led you to make that adjustment, and is that something you think you’re going to need to do more often as the season goes on?
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RUNNING BACKS: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Aaron Jones, Packers 5-9 • 208 pounds • 27 years old A fifth-round steal in the 2017 draft out of UTEP, Jones is equally proficient in the running and passing games. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards the last two years, and caught 49 and 47 passes, respectively. He’s also a touchdown machine with 30 TDs the last two years (25 rushing and 5 receiving). The son of two career Army officers, he’s a tough, driven player and the kind of guy players want on their team.
THE RIGHT STUFF?
Keeping two important starters is a priority as the right side of the O-line hits free agency
QUARTERBACKS: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Dak Prescott, Cowboys 6-2 • 235 pounds • 27 years old A solid starter who has a nice TD-INT ratio over his first five seasons (104-40), Prescott is an accurate thrower and very mobile. However, he’s coming off a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, so it remains to be seen if this will impact his game moving forward.
TIGHT ENDS: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Hunter Henry, Chargers 6-5 • 250 pounds • 29 years old A very talented player, Henry has had issues staying healthy, unable to complete an NFL season, including missing the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL. But when healthy, he’s a terrific all-around tight end who really connected with Justin Herbert in 2020 with 60 catches. Henry is very good at finding holes in zone coverage.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Leonard Williams, Giants 6-5 • 255 pounds • 28 years old An athletic 300-pounder with quick feet, Williams amassed a career-high 11.5 sacks last season. Add that to him being a stout run defender, very durable and possessing great character, and he should be in high demand. He won NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice last year. $$$$$
What Bills Fans Are Saying
Bills Digest scanned the Bills’ Facebook page and other fan message board sites to gauge the hot topics Bills Nation is talking about. We chose some of the better posts, edited for brevity and clarity, and present them here, along with Bills Digest editor Mark Ludwiczak’s take on what’s being discussed.
Bills Digest BUZZ Box: Five hot topics Bills fans are talking about
Bills Digest editor Mark Ludwiczak and editor-at-large Chris Brown weigh in on a handful of the hottest subjects Bills fans have been sounding off about in e-mails to our offices, radio call-in shows and Internet message boards. Have an opinion? Feel free to send an email to Chris (AskChris@bills.nfl.net) or Mark (Mark@asmpublishing.com).
WIDE RECEIVERS: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Allen Robinson II, Bears 6-2 • 220 pounds • 27 years old Coming off a 102-catch season, Robinson is a big, physical receiver who can go up and get the rock. He excels at climbing the ladder to high-point the ball. Imagine what he can do with an elite QB after playing in Jacksonville and Chicago. Though he has been in the league since 2014, he’s still only 27.
GUARDS/CENTERS: TOP AVAILABLE FREE AGENTS
Brandon Scherff, Washington 6-5 • 315 pounds • 29 years old The fifth pick of the 2015 draft, Scherff certainly lived up to the hype. He’s got everything teams want in a guard — size, grit, great technique, power and the mobility to get to the second level. His massive hands (11 inches) are a huge asset for a guard to grab and clutch. He made the Pro Bowl four of his first five NFL seasons. $$$$$
Another unusual offseason awaits
In a normal year, with a normal offseason, now would be the perfect time to give Josh Allen the monster contract extension he so clearly deserves.
JC Deep Dive: The new coaching staff
Bringing Shanahan magic to Florham Park
Shoots from the hip
Robby Anderson said he wasn't “genuinely happy ” with the Jets at times
What great culture looks like
Throughout the process of the Jets looking for a new coach, a buzzword we heard quite a bit was “culture.”
RUSHING TO JUDGMENT
The Jets’ edge rush did flash at times in 2020, led by players such as Tarell Basham and Bryce Huff, but clearly the Jets are still looking for a dominating pass rusher for whom other teams need to game plan.
Saleh brings ‘all gas, no brake' mentality
The following are some highlights from Robert Saleh’s press conference, Jan. 21, when he was introduced as the 20th head coach in Jets history:
JC Deep Dive: Why Jets said, ‘No Tank You'
Those who frequent social media are likely aware that some Jets fans were livid at the team for beating the Los Angeles Rams, Dec. 10, greatly hurting their chances at landing the first pick in the draft, which likely will be Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.
Herndon makes comeback
There is an old saying in Hollywood: “You’re not anybody until you make a comeback.”
Blockbuster trade looking better and better
Aside from Jamal Adams’ scorched-earth campaign trashing the Jets’ brass and making it untenable for him to stay, there’s another significant reason his trade made a ton of sense.
Legendary announcer defends DC Williams
It was hard to find anybody to defend former Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for his ill-fated all-out blitz at the end the Jets’ recent loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
JC Deep Dive: Coaching candidates from college
On Nov. 27, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer caught the attention of Jets fans when he mentioned Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald as a possible candidate for Gang Green, if they make a coaching change.