So, last week, my opening day address, my first article of the 2017 NFL season, got sent to the ashcan of history because of some technical difficulties at our end here at BillsMafia.com. Big apologies.
No worries. It was mostly a retelling of the endless off-season countdowns to opening day.
Opening day has now come, and gone.
And the Buffalo Bills are alone in first place in the AFC East. (I bet you hadn’t heard that this week at all!)
So, what does that actually mean? Well, not much, really.
It means the Bills beat one of the AFCE teams, a team they should have beat, the New York Jets. It means the favored team, the Patriots, got caught off-guard, and it might be the only game they lose this year. (Maybe – see below) And oh yes, the Miami Dolphins did not play last week.
Should we, the fans, allow ourselves to eat the cake, so to speak?
Well, let’s put down the fork a minute. Here’s what we need to keep in mind, from a pessimist’s point of view:
• 1. It was the New York Jets. Yes, the Jets didn’t show up and fold into the tank on opening day, but, they are not a very good football team.
• 2. That’s it. That’s what I’ve got. Sure, the Bills made some mistakes, but so did every other NFL team… it was week one. Tyrod Taylor threw a sure TD pass a little behind Clay, but Clay should have caught it for the touchdown, eliminating the interception.
Taylor could have maybe held on to the ball a little longer on a couple drop backs. But you know what? He wasn’t getting sacked like the rest of the NFL quarterbacks in week one. Buffalo’s offensive line makes us nervous, often making Taylor have to adjust his plans. But, thankfully, we have Tyrod Taylor back there, and not Tom Savage, Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Mike Glennon, Scott Tolzien, Blake Bortles, Brian Hoyer… or Josh McCown. Those were the starting quarterbacks last week, who could not get out of their own way, choosing instead to take sacks, or throw interceptions.
With the state of offensive lines in the NFL (there just aren’t enough good offensive linemen coming out of college prepared for NFL play), the Buffalo Bills are lucky to have a playmaker like Tyrod Taylor right now.
He’s not Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or any of the other first-tier quarterbacks in the league. And yes, the front office needs to pursue the plan they have for getting one of those.
But, considering the quality of athletic defensive linemen in the league, and the shortage of quality offensive linemen (this Bills team included), we need a playmaker like Tyrod Taylor. He extends drives, he gets first downs. He puts the team in positions for scoring. Right now, I’ll take that.
Musings From Around the NFL
How great is it, that after so much discussion about whether or not the New England Patriots would go 19-0, they lose their first game – the first game of the NFL season.
It makes my heart smile every single time I think about it. I imagine it was a horrific week of meetings and practices this week, on the grass fields between Trader Joe’s and Bar Louie at Patriot Place. I can only expect the Patriots to rebound with a passing game in New Orleans today that will put up somewhere in the vicinity of 67 points. Too bad for them though, I expect Drew Brees and the Saints to put up something like 68 points on the Patriots defense.
Four of these eight teams will be 0-2 after tomorrow night: New England, New Orleans, Arizona, Indianapolis, Detroit, New York Giants, Seattle, or San Francisco. All of them, with the possible exception of Indianapolis, and the sure exception of San Francisco, began last week with playoff aspirations. Starting 0-2, the statisticians tell us, injures those aspirations…significantly. Oh, Cincinnati is already 0-2.
What I just wrote, does not of course apply to the Patriots.
What’s the chance the Rams, Jaguars, and Bills are 2-0 going into next weekend? I would say, respectively, good – possibly – stunningly.
We finally get to see what Miami and Tampa Bay look like. The football teams, I mean.
Fantasy Football Tips
There is a treasure chest of points to be earned on the field in New Orleans on Sunday. Play Brady or Brees of course, and pick their receivers carefully. Hogan from the slot looks good for New England, and consider Colby Fleener, the TE from the Saints. If you own Michael Thomas though, he’s bank.
They say if Julio Jones has a down week, he explodes the next. And his cornerback matchups this week seem delicious. Just sayin’.
If you aren’t paying attention to Ty Montgomery, the running back in Green Bay, you should be.
The Bills defeated the New York Jets, and took over sole possession of the lead in the AFC East, at least for one week.
The defense was sound, even very good at times. They still seem to have a very annoying habit of letting down for a complete series, usually the second or third series of the second half. This is one of those type of things that Coach McDermott vowed to change. Sunday would be a good time to start that.
The offense looked like most of us expected. Sustained drives, with mixed results at the end. The sustained drives is something good, or course. Tyrod Taylor knows how to get first downs. Before Taylor came along, Brian Moorman was the best known player on the team. The Bills have much fewer three-and-outs than they used to have.
That said, they need to fix the mixed results at the end of those sustained drives. Again, Coach McD… Sunday would be a good day to begin that.
Today’s Bills opponent is the Carolina Panthers.
But, which Carolina Panthers do we speak of?
Is it the Super Bowl participants of two seasons ago – with the mega-talented NFL season MVP quarterback, or the incredibly disappointing losing team from last season – with the oh-so-pedestrian liability of an injured quarterback?
We don’t really know, because last week, the Panthers won their game, but does beating the San Francisco 49ers mean very much?
Of course, we can say the same about the Buffalo Bills, after their win against the Jets.
So, we have two enigmas facing off in a game that their respective fan bases are looking at with dire anticipation, each in search of finding a more true identity for their team.
Most football fans outside of these regional fan zones seem to be looking at this game from the perspective of a Super Bowl team taking on a gutter dwelling team.
Maybe the Panthers have returned to greatness, but we’ve really seen no proof of that, yet.
Last week’s article, had it been published, would have stated how the Bills really aren’t one of the horrific teams of the league, contrary to the opinions of short-sighted national writers and fans.
This game will be close. But, let me share with you a couple of thoughts.
When the Panthers have the ball: two words…Christian McCaffrey. The Jets exposed an area of weakness in the Bills defense, the short passing game. This is where McCaffrey lives and thrives.
I’m guessing coaches McDermott & Frazier are going to send combinations of Shaq Lawson, Jerry Hughes, and Lorenzo Alexander, in order to apply some pressure on Cam Newton, but, only 2 of them at a time. I think they will have Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus “hold-in-place”, taking up double teams and watching for Newton to try running. This will leave seven to defend the pass game. Let’s keep Ramon Humber glued to McCaffrey, shall we?
When the Bills have the ball: McCoy and Clay, do it again. Do it until someone stops them. There was an awful lot of whining in Buffalo this past week about the wide receivers not getting enough attention. Hey, if your opponents can’t cover the running back and tight end, you don’t force the ball to a rookie or an injured team newbie, and away from those opportunities. Do it again.
One more thing.
NFL assistant coaches study their own head coaches more than the other way around. I predict the student, McDermott, learned much from the teacher. If the Bills win on Sunday, there will be a lot of attention coming Sean McDermott’s way next week.
He won’t like that, but, he’ll take the win.
Buffalo 23 – Carolina 17
Enjoy the game – read me next week.
Editor’s babble: We apologize for our bumpy transition back to BillsMafia.com resulting in our inability to publish Rick Bates first post of the season. We’re grateful he’s back with us this season contributing to the blog. You can follow Rick on Twitter @MyHammock.