Who is on the hottest seat in the AFC East? It could be a player, coach or front-office executive. Our roundtable reporters give their picks.
Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. There are a lot of hot seats in this division, in which the three teams not named the Patriots have combined for only two playoff appearances in the past seven years, but the hottest belongs to Tannehill. Quite simply, it’s make or break. Tannehill, who has missed the past 19 games due to knee injuries, received a vote of confidence when the Dolphins -- amid intense, pre-draft speculation about their interest in quarterbacks -– decided to pass on a passer. It was their saying to Tannehill, “We’ll give you one more shot.” He’s a decent quarterback and an all-around good guy, but he hasn’t been able to take his game to a higher level. The organization has been patient, but its patience has an expiration date -– and it is approaching quickly.
Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter: Jets quarterback Josh McCown. The incumbent Jets starting quarterback and all-around good guy faces competition from No. 3 overall draft pick Sam Darnold and free-agent signing Teddy Bridgewater, which is an ideal situation for the team but not necessarily for him. One silver lining for McCown: Even if he isn’t starting after arguably the best season of his career in 2017, he should still be on the team because he has widely been viewed as an ideal teammate and mentor in each of the eight organizations for which he’s played. If there were five seats, I might have picked the Bills’ offensive line. There has been a lot of change with the unit from last season, and if the team wants to achieve back-to-back playoff berths, its ability to keep the quarterback upright without guard Richie Incognito, center Eric Wood and tackle Cordy Glenn will be critical.
Mike Rodak, ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter: Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. While Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan should get some leeway to see through his selection of Sam Darnold, it is hard to afford Tannenbaum the same sort of slack in Miami. Since the Dolphins hired Tannenbaum in 2015, none of the team’s first-round draft picks -- wide receiver DeVante Parker (2015), offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (2016) and defensive end Charles Harris (2017) -- has made a significant impact. While general manager Chris Grier is in charge of the draft, Tannenbaum is ultimately in charge of the front office. Tannenbaum’s aggressive spending, including guaranteed $60 million to defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2015, resulted only in salary-cap issues entering this offseason. Although last season’s injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill should be considered, the Dolphins’ 22-26 record the last three seasons is hardly impressive enough to keep Tannenbaum off the hot seat for the second time in his career.