NFL Week 1 Review – Bills at Jets

After an off-season of hope this one was a bitter pill for Bills fans to swallow.  The Bills were coming in with a wave of momentum and the Jets looked to be a mess on and off the field.  he Jets came to play and they shocked the Bills early, going up by 21 points in the 1st quarter en route to a 48-28 opening day win.  To many in Buffalo the bubble seems to have burst already.  Maybe they aren’t who we thought they were but the truth is that they have a heel of a lot of time to make up for it.  Here are some individual thoughts on the game:

  • Spiller ran past the Jets defense on the way to 169 yards on Sunday

    Regarding CJ Spiller, the lone bright spot for the Bills.  It looks as if CJ has finally figured out the tempo of the pro game.  If he continues to progress and improve as he has he could truly be an elite offensive weapon.  Earlier in his career Spiller was doing too much dancing and spending too much time finding the hole.  Spiller is shifty and quick.  Once he finds a hole he has to attack it.  That’s exactly what he’s started to do.  Between last week’s performance in relief of Fred Jackson and the last 5 games he started last year for the injured Jackson he is averaging just a hair under 7 yards a carry.  That’s a huge number for an NFL running back.  Spiller stills ahs some growing up to do but the Bills can win without Fred Jackson if they have to, provided other things go right.  Spiller will not be the problem.

  • Where is the new and improved defense?  Dave Wannstedt was hired to fix the Bills defense.  Clearly the Jets had an effective offensive game plan.  Use quick drops before the 4-man front can get to you and take advantage on the Bills young CBs who were playing 5-6 yards off of the receivers.  So where were the adjustments.  Despite Sanchez getting rid off the ball too quickly for the 4-man front to get to him the Bills brought extra guys only 4 times the entire game.  Stephon Gilmore has a reputation for being a physical corner yet he was giving the Jets receivers a cushion.  When you hire a coach with Super Bowl winning experience you except Super Bowl caliber coaching.  Wannstedt needs to bounce back this week against the Chiefs.
  • Sanchez excelled throwing the ball on Sunday

    Give credit where it’s due.  Mark Sanchez was ridiculed since the day the Jets acquired Tim Tebow.  He had a lot to prove.  The entire team did but Sanchez in particular.  And he put his money where his mouth is.  He shook off a very bad INT on the opening drive and played a great game.  He spread the ball around and threw the ball confidently.  For weeks we heard about a QB controversy leading up to week 1.  Entering week 2 there is no quarterback controversy.  This is Mark Sanchez’s team (for now).  The Jets locker room has become a happy place (for now).

  • Fitzpatrick was Jekyll on Sunday.  He still has the potential to be Hyde.  There is no way to mince words.  Ryan Fitzpatrick single-handedly put the Bills in a deep, early hole in the 1st quarter with two bad passes.  Then, while they still had a chance to come back in the 2nd half, Fitzpatrick gave up a pick-6 on the 1st drive.  He’s had bad days like this in the past.  Sometimes he’s bounced back, sometimes he hasn’t.  Losing David Nelson is a big blow but Donald Jones seems ready to step up and rookie T.J. Graham will get some important time early.  I said this last year but the Bills should really work tight end Scott Chandler more into the offensive game plan.  He’s a tremendous mismatch for most linebackers and safeties with his 6-7 frame.  And he catches pretty much everything.
  • The Bills offensive line is a good unit.  I know what that says about Fitzpatrick’s day but the truth is that Fitzpatrick’s mistakes weren’t because he had people in his face all game.  They opened up huge holes for C.J. Spiller.  The middle of the line is stout with center Eric Wood and guard Andy Levitre.  Rookie Cordy Glenn held his own at left tackle.
  • Football isn’t everything.  Marcell Dareus had a bad day on Saturday in the Meadowlands but it pales in comparison to what him and his family are dealing with now.  On Sunday Marcell’s brother Simeon Gilmore was shot and killed in his native Alabama.  Gilmore was 20.  Obviously football seems very small in light of the tragedy and while Marcell is a big part of the Bills team I hope that he takes all the time that he needs to deal with this tragedy.  Condolences to the family of Simeon Gilmore.

The Bills open the home docket of their schedule this Sunday in Buffalo against the Chiefs.

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Are The New York Jets Messing With Us?

From Jets players Brawl On Sidelines

CORTLAND, N.Y. — A brawl involving about 20 players erupted on the sideline in the New York Jets‘ practice Monday, causing reporters to scatter and coming dangerously close to fans.

Rex Ryan has got to be playing some jedi mind tricks on us at this point

This has got to be a joke at this point right?  A professional sports team simply can not be this dysfunctional.  You’ve got a high-profile quarterback controversy involving two painfully mediocre quarterbacks, a coach who continues to run his mouth despite the fact that the team didn’t win anything after he ran said mouth in each of his first three seasons as head coach, you’ve got a psychotic linebacker who’s about to rip the head off of the third string quarterback who wildly criticized the team in the off-season in a blatant attempt to get let go but is still with the team for some reason.  You’ve got a wide receiver who took a similar track in the off-season and was injured in practice by the cornerback who has never played a down on offense yet said that he’s the second best wide receiver on the team.  You know the one, the guy with 8 different kids from 8 different mother?  Now they are literally endangering their fans by having a battle royal within inches of the sidelines.

I refuse to believe that a pro sports team is this messed up.  Even with this group, it is literally impossible to be this dysfunctional.  Hell, they make the 2012 Red Sox look like the 2004 Red Sox.  At least the Sox made the effort to pretend that things were going alright during spring training.  The Jets haven’t even waited until a pre-season game has been played to show how much of a mess they are.  I’m convinced at this point that they are just messing with us.  They’re going to come out looking like the ’85 Bears and start singing Kumbaya together in the locker room after the games while Rex laughs in everyone’s face.  Because a team this messed up has to be joking right?  There’s no way this is real.

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Will Peyton Manning land in the AFC East?

Peyton Manning is now a free agent and reports say that 12 teams have already made contact with him.  Miami and maybe the Jets look to be heavily involved in the recruiting process so it seems that there is at least chance that Manning lands in the AFC East.  It would be significant, not only because he would improve the Jets or the Dolphins tremendously, but also because Manning would play Tom Brady’s Patriots two times a year.  Here’s a look at the chances of Manning landing with any of the AFC East teams:

The recruiting has already started in Miami

Miami Dolphins:  Stephen Ross is ready to roll out the red carpet and whatever else he needs to lure Manning to Miami.  Miami has some good pieces in place.  Receiver Brandon Marshall can be a prime target for Manning and receiver Davone Bess catches almost everything and would quickly become one of Peyton’s favorite targets.  Reggie Bush is a threat out of the backfield.  The line as anchored by Jake Long, one of the best offensive tackles in the game.  They have a good enough defense.  Still they finished 6-10 last season and have a new coach coming in.  Ross might want Manning but perhaps new head coach Joe Philbin will want Matt Flynn, who played under him in Green Bay.  My guess is that Philbin would obviously be open to acquiring Peyton Manning for his offense but wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if the consolation prize was Flynn.  Location wise Miami is obviously an enticing destination and Manning does have a condo down on South Beach.  Stephen Ross has been trying desperately to bring a big name to Miami since he became owner but for whatever reason guys are scared off.  He missed out on Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who leveraged the situation to secure a better job in San Fransisco.  He missed out on former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who leveraged the situation to get himself more power at his new job in St. Louis.  Manning could leverage this situation to secure a better contract in a situation that might be a bit closer to winning, say a Kansas City or a Arizona or the next team…

Odds: 10 to 1

Ryan would love to have Peyton on his side

New York Jets: For his first two years in the league quarterback Mark Sanchez was dubbed “The Sanchise”.  The Jets made the AFC Championship game in each of his first two years.  Now after an 8-8 season they are ready to throw him into the scrap heap.  The Jets were in turmoil at the end of last season and even though Sanchez may have been the least of their worries we all know that head coach Rex Ryan loves attention and would love to bring in Peyton Manning to make fans forget about the locker room woes on 2011.  Their receiving corp has malcontent Santonio Holmes and they have Shonn Greene coming out of the backfield.  Dustin Keller is a weapon at tight end that Manning would love to utilize.  The Jets have one of the top defenses in the league.  Obviously the big story about Peyton playing for the Jets would be that he was playing in the same city as his brother.  We’ll hear the jokes about Archie and Olivia Manning’s reduced travel schedule or the Manning duplex but I think this might be more of a deterrent than an advantage.  Eli has built himself into an icon of New York City after spending much of his career in Peyton’s shadow and I’m not sure Peyton is ready to step back into his spotlight.  Also it needs to be acknowledged that the turmoil and the in-fighting in the Jets clubhouse was very real at the end of last season and Peyton would probably need assurances that it’s in the past.  The problem with that is that public enemy #1, Santonio Holmes, is virtually unmovable and Rex Ryan has too much pride to change his coaching style for one player.  Still they will go all out if they really want him and they will probably be one of the better teams to make a run at Peyton.

Odds: 20 to 1

The Bills already have a QB that's dedicated to the team

Buffalo Bills:  The Bills just signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a 6-year, $59 million extension during last season.  Fitzpatrick is no Manning but he is the most productive Bills quarterback statistically since Jim Kelly.  Also his favorite receiver, Stevie Johnson, just signed a 5-year extension himself and Fitzpatrick shaved his head into a mohawk with a #13 and the words “he’s back” shaved into the side of his head.  I don’t think he would have done that if his job was in jeopardy.  In the end, even if there was serious interest from the Bills, I don’t think they’d crack the top of the list of his preferred destinations.  They might stick their toes in the pool but I don’t see them going much further than that.

Odds: 250-1

New England Patriots:  For the past 11 seasons it’s been 1A and 1B.  They already have one, they don’t need the other.

Odds: 1,000,000 to 1

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Thoughts on Jets/Dolphins

It was a must win for the Jets last night and they did wind up beating the Dolphins.  It wasn’t pretty but the Jets got back to .500, which they badly needed to do with a rough stretch of games coming up in the next month.  I was mildly disappointed that Brandon Marshall didn’t get thrown out or get into a fight with Bart Scott as he intimated that he might do earlier in the week.  Here are my full game thoughts…

  • The Dolphins dominated the first quarter and a half yet somehow when it was all said and done the score was 7-6 Jets.  The Jets got into a rhythm offensively for the first time in the game at that point and never looked back.  How can you have all of the first downs, all of the plays on your side of the field, give up no big plays, and still be losing 7-6? Absurd.
  • I think they tested the Marshall/Revis match up far too much.  I’m not sure if Tony Sparano realized that it was Matt Moore out there and not Dan Marino.
  • Mark Sanchez could have made a sandwich in the pocket with all of the time h was getting back there last night.  Where was Cameron Wake?  Jason Taylor?  This isn’t the Jets O-Line of two years ago either.  What may be a bit troubling to Jets fans is that even with all of that time he couldn’t find a receiver to throw to for the better part of the first half.
  • If you want to look for a positive of the Dolphins side of things, I like the way rookie RB Daniel Thomas plays.  He’s a hard run and definitely a building block for the future.  I’d be shocked to see Reggie Bush back in a Dolphins uniform next year.
  • I guess they didn’t have a football to throw around in the slammer because Plaxico looks like he hasn’t even seen a football in three years.
  • I know I say this almost every week but I think that the Jets should scale back just a bit on the Shonn Greene and give us just a pinch more of the LT, at least for now.
  • Say what you will about Santonio Holmes, Derrick Mason, etc. but when you get the ball in Santonio’s hands good things will happen.
  • Dustin Keller got back into a groove last night after a poor showing last week and that was a huge help to Mark Sanchez, particularly on 3rd down.  Jeremy Kerley looked like Derrick Mason last night.
  • Aaron Maybin might be getting on the stat sheet but he still has the same one ineffective move and gets blocked up the field way to easily.  But good for him for getting on the stat sheet.
  • Note to Tony Sparano for the next time the Dolphins play the Jets (if he’s still the coach) – Darrelle Revis is pretty damn good.  Try to limit the throws to his side of the field.

So the Jets got a game they needed before a brutal 4 week stretch that includes back-to-back AFC East games against Buffalo and New England which could seal their playoff fate.  For the Dolphins, consistency is the key.  They just have to continue to do what they are doing and that is to suck just enough to get Luck.  So far so good.  It’s these two teams for the AFC East next week as the Bills and Pats are on the bye.

Twitter @ErikVenskus

Thoughts on Jets/Patriots

The Pats continue to look like a well-oiled machine and the Jets, well they look like they might be in a lot of trouble.  It wasn’t exactly the worst performance by the Jets this week but then again I guess it wasn’t exactly the Pats best performance either.  Some thoughts:

  • Wes Welker’s dream season might be coming to an end.  Not because of Darrelle Revis or any other defensive player though, because of a healthy Aaron Hernandez.  We might have to stop talking about a record kind of season for Wes Welker since, after all, Tom Brady can only throw one completed pass per drop back.  There are just not enough balls to go around.
  • The most ridiculous stat I have ever heard (and I’m sure all have heard it by now) – 10 seasons, 74 starts, 91 touchdowns and 1 interception in the red zone at home.  That 1st was this weekend against the Jets on a ball that Aaron Hernandez should have caught for #92.
  • BenJarvis Green Ellis had his best day as a pro on Sunday, amassing 149 yards, 136 of which he gained on the ground, and 2 TD’s.  Still I see Belichick playing the hot hand, which was Stevan Ridley last week, Green Ellis this week, and whoever is having the most success in the run game early on next week.  Call that free advice for fantasy owners.
  • The Jets offense looks, I don’t know, off.  A lot off.  Sanchez doesn’t look to be in sync with his veteran receivers and it felt like the Jets tried too hard to establish a ground game, often running on 1st and 2nd down and setting up srd and 4’s and 5’s all game.  What else didn’t help Sanchez and the offense is that some of the younger guys who should be making plays (Keller, Conner) had some key miscues on 3rd down.
  • All that being said I have noticed that a few legends of the game, namely Joe Namath and Bill Parcells, have been highly critical of Mark Sanchez in the last few weeks but I really don’t feel like I have seen anything from Sanchez these last few games that differentiates from any other point in his first two seasons.  He has his strengths and his limitations but like many other QB’s he is a product of his supporting staff.  I don’t see that supporting staff getting it done right now.  Maybe they should have stuck with Braylon Edwards, whom Mark Sanchez had a rapport with, rather than sign Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, the latter of which belonged on a milk carton on Sunday.
  • Shonn Greene had a decent game with 81 yards and a touchdown but only 2 carries (for 13 yards) for Tomlinson?  Now is the time to use him because the legs won’t be there later in the year.
  • Defensively the Jets were Jekyll and Hyde, recording 4 sacks on Brady but seemingly unable to stop the run or the pass when Brady had time.  Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding the dismal offense is the fact that the Jets are playing to the standards on defense that you would expect from a Rex Ryan-led squad.
  • The Patriots played their best game in the secondary all year on Sunday, it could be because they were completely healthy for this first time.  The key is keeping Leigh Bodden, who is coming off of a major injury, and Ras-I Dowling, who is perpetually coming off of an injury, healthy and in the line-up.  Of course the lost Jets wide receiver corps could have been a factor in this as well.
  • I’m not sure if the Jets receivers called a meeting with Rex Ryan to complain about Offensive Coordinator but it sure as well would not surprise me if they did.
  • C’Mon Vince, no picks this week?  Slacker.

As expected the Pats brushed off their loss to the Bills and keep chugging along towards another Tom Brady-led playoff berth.  Next week the Foxboro faithful will get to enjoy a Tony Romo meltdown live and in person.  For the Jets, who are reeling, they get the luxury of facing the team in the division more downtrodden than they are.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the Dolphins had two full weeks to prepare for the Jets.  Let’s see if the Jets can end the losing streak before the hole gets too big to crawl out of.

Twitter @ErikVenskus

Quick Thoughts on Jets/Cowboys

2011 is here and it’s looking a lot of 2010 for Gang green.  Underwhelm me for three quarters than excite me for the last one.  How many times did the Jets play sluggish last year only to stage some form of miraculous comeback to win the game?  I’m not sure if I am ready to declare them a Super Bowl contender yet but it’s hard to deny them when they’ve gone to the AFC Championship game in the first two years of this regime.  Anyway, onto my thoughts:

  • Say what you will about Mark Sanchez but he always shows up in the 4th quarter.  His stats won’t be as gaudy at the end of the year but he always seems to get it done late in a game when the Jets are down.  If you’re still trying to figure out how this kid has gotten his team to the AFC Championship game in each of his first two seasons start there.
  • Plaxico Burress started off slow but he looked to be mid-season form by the end of the game.  Not bad for a guy who spent the past two years in the clink.  The NFL had better watch out because if Plax has a big season more players might be looking to be put away for a few years in hopes of a glorious comeback.  In all seriousness he is a huge wildcard for the Jets this season.  Derrick Mason however looked unimpressive.
  • Darrelle Revis is ridiculously good…like once in a generation ridiculously good.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson looked to be running with purpose, strecthing out for a few extra yards and first downs.  I’d expect to see more of LT in the first half of the season than in the second half.  They need big production from him early.
  • Just another day in the office for the Jets front 7.
  • Tony Romo is officially the most overrated quarterback in the league.  I know that he was coming off of an injury but it’s the same old story with this guy.  Can’t make quick decisions, can’t take care of the ball, can’t come through in the clutch.  He is the anti-Sanchez.  Dallas is not going to win anything as long as he has the keys to the car.

So the Jets started off where they left off.  It looks like this is a team that will contend again but if they can’t shake these slow starts then they will once again face the uphill battle of going on the road to try to get to the Super Bowl…can they really do it three times in a row?  If they repeat these slow starts against teams like New England, Philly, and San Diego we might find out.


Twitter @ErikVenskus