When I prepared for the return of this column, I did not think I would get to open it with stating that the Bills are leading the AFC East; not today, nor at any point of the season. But due to an act of God - namely, Alex Smith throwing more than a bunch of checkdowns - a category five hurricane, and the assembled cast of green jerseys we'll discuss at length later, here we are. Truly miraculous. Turn off your tv's folks. Stop reading the news. It will only get sadder from here. This is like reading the opening acts of Julius Ceasar where he and Brutus are still pals. Read this, and turn back forever.
The return of the NFL season can be signalled by a few traditional signs.
- -Your local pizza place has an atmosphere of pure chaos likened only to the scramble for a fumbled ball
- -You have seen at least one, if not multiple shaky vertical videos of people jumping off vehicles through a table in Orchard Park
- -Local zubaz viewings rise 700%
Sunday I buckled in for the Bills season opener, only to be greeted with what surely must have been a fifth preseason game. Because there's no way an NFL team in 2017 would be rolling out the series of starters that the New York Jets went with on Sunday.
Except they totally did. Tuning in to watch competitive NFL action and getting this football game is like ordering a UFC PPV but instead getting a video of two kittens pawing at each other.
The captain of the USS Darnold is none other than long-standing NFL punching bag Josh "Don't call me Luke" McCown, who is a whopping 1-17 in his last 18 NFL starts. Josh McCown is the poster child for any argument against why Colin Kaepernick isn't a free agent for talent reasons. The Jets’ passing attack against the Bills secondary that has less established talent on it than at any point in recent memory was for McCown to throw the ball as quickly as humanly possible in the direction of the nearest receiver equivalent. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are both long gone, jettisoned in the off-season because they're established talents with no value on a team dead set on picking first. Instead we have...Robbie Anderson? Jermaine Kearse? Oh boy. The best receiver on their roster was inactive because he was just cut by the 49ers, who drafted second last year.
The ghost of Matt Forte is still here, in no small part because they couldn't trade him. Forte has reportedly assured (WHO) the trade rumors swirling around him were false. They were not. this is Marc Bergevin totally not trading PK Subban levels of obvious. Unfortunately for the Jets, Forte is an old dog in a young pups corps, and people would rather have their sixth round pick start than pay Matt Forte the kind of money he makes. It's a shame really. Forte has been a top five back for most of his career on a Bears team that never got him the glory he deserved. Now he's out there seeing eight Bills in the box because the passing attack is a laugher. I wonder if the Jets pictured McCown starting for them when they knocked him out of a game in Cleveland last year.
For as bad as the Jets are, and in spite of the fact that the Bills won, I'm still not inspired by this win. We had every chance to put this game away, and it never really felt like it was over until the sealing interception came through. This is the type of game that we blow all of the time, only the Jets are far too bad to take advantage of it.
The passing game was more or less what we expected it to be. The Jets’ one strong point is their defensive line, but I felt Tyrod looked pretty comfortable, for the most part. His mobility bails him out when things start to break down, which I have a suspicion may happen a lot this season. There was some of the miscommunication that comes with having your top three receivers from last year all gone and getting a concussion in the preseason, but nothing is perfect. The renewed focus on using Charles Clay as more than a multi-million dollar false flag was a pleasant surprise. The play design on the Holmes touchdown was excellent. Ultimately, Tyrod never had to push the envelope too much, and other than an untimely interception in the red zone, I think he's happy with how that game played out.
LeSean McCoy was the true star of Week 1. I have to admit I started writing his season off the second he went to the sidelines banged up, because this is Buffalo, and the players on this team are cursed to never be healthy. Ronald Darby forgot he didn't play here anymore before he lined up his ankle parallel to the ground. If you haven't seen it and are moderately squeamish, don't watch the slo-mo replay.
That being said, Shady looks great in this zone blocking scheme. The way he sees the field is truly impressive. With David Johnson slowed and Leveon Bell just now reporting to Pittsburgh, he has a strong case as being the best runner in the league at this moment. If the Bills are going to surprise people, it will be because of the reliability of McCoy. Secondary shout out to Mike Tolbert, who ran so aggressively I already forgot the name of the running back we cut at the end of the preseason. Jehuu Caulcrick? Cierre Wood? Ronnie Wingo? Whoever he is, he probably has Tolbert's face on a dartboard today.
The defense played pretty well, without being pushed to their limits. Apparently Ramon Humber can tackle pretty well, so that's neat. Hyde and Poyer both got interceptions in their Bills debuts, which allows us to forget that our secondary is young and inexperienced. There was no sustained pass rush, in part because McCown was getting rid of it ASAP.
Marcell Dareus was a non-factor, and more than that, didn't seem to factor in on late downs. When they were in 3rd and longs, they went with one DT, and that was Kyle Williams. I know Dareus was banged up a bit this week, so we'll have to see if this is an ongoing theme. For a player being paid as much as he is on the heels of being sent home for a preseason game - this is not a good sign for things to come.
On a side note, because I have little to no respect for myself as a human being, I watched about a half of the Rams/Colts game yesterday. It was weird to see Sammy playing for another team, but good to see him getting touches without limping back to the huddle at the same time. I know we as a fanbase like to hate on him because he never produced like a top 5 pick, but it isn't his fault the powers that were reached on him like that. I hope he finds his form out there.
Up next is the Carolina Panthers, or as I like to call them - Buffalo Bills South. They're an actual football team with talent that is hoping to win, so this should be a much better test of your first place Buffalo Bills. Who knows; maybe I, the oddsmakers, historical data, people smarter than I, people dumber than I, and the elephant at the zoo who picks games based on arbitrary ancient elephant secrets are all wrong and the Bills are good enough to contend this year. I guess only time will tell