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I believe it was the great philosopher William Madison, who after watching the Bills home opener, looked down to Old Man Clemens’ sidewalk and said, “Here’s a nice piece of ^&%&.”
It’s super easy to be down on these Bills after such a horrendous — inauspicious at-best — debut. In fact, it’d be easy to unveil an award-winning line of cynical tee-shirts:
1) “No We Chan’t”
3) “Barkley/Bray 2013”
It’d be easy, but it wouldn’t be fair. Yes, your Buffalo Bills looked awful for the majority of Sunday’s game in New Jersey, but let’s dig a little deeper before we head to the toilet.
— Ryan Fitzpatrick was simply awful. What kills the spirit is that his interceptions weren’t “gunslinger” picks where he tried to fit the ball into dumb spaces, they were just horrible decisions. The first one was him laser-eyeing Stevie Johnson. The second was an inaccurate throw to a wide-open receiver. The third was, well, among the worst interceptions you will ever see in this game of American football.
— Fred Jackson’s injury status, however, is a far more important single-game story. It is not blowing things out of proportion to say that the 1-2 punch of Spiller/Choice is a major step back. Jackson’s injury appeared to be really bad, and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing Chan Gailey and Fitz’s comments on the abomination as a whole, the take on Fred’s ailment is going to be far more important.
— The Bills pass rush was shockingly terrible. Mark Anderson had a nice play early that led to a Bryan Scott interceptions, but Mario Williams and Kyle Williams were nearly invisible against the throw. Marcell Dareus looked strong throughout the course of the game in both phases. Oddly enough, Chris Kelsay may’ve been the best pass rusher for Buffalo.
— That said, the front four will need its back seven (?) to bail it out, which certainly did not happen. The Bills young corners can be forgiven — perhaps — but Jairus Byrd was awful. At one point, he was running away from D’Brickashaw Ferguson (not that most of us wouldn’t). The linebackers may have not been involved in pass coverage at all. That’s my only explanation for the acres of green at MetLife Stadium.
— Hate to say I told you so — because I’m not sure where I wrote or said it, but I did — but Mark Sanchez is not a horrible quarterback. He’s won road playoff games and his “awful” 2011 season had 26 TD and 18 INTs. I’m not surprised the Jets quarterback played well, rather that their line gave Sanchez a decent amount of time to operate.
Remember when Alex Smith, another former No. 1 overall pick, was completely written off as capable of leading a team to the playoffs? It appears the New York media did the same with Sanchez even after the USC product did his fair share of postseason passing.
— C.J. Spiller was fantastic. Including his last three starts of 2011, he now has 73 touches for 596 yards and 5 TDs. The Bills, however, badly need an alternative to Tashard Choice. No offense to the locker room gem he must be, but I think he’s the most pedestrian third-string running back in the league and if he’s your second-string…
— Really, TJ Graham couldn’t see the field? Wouldn’t you rather have that extra weapon rather than the guy who kicks the ball out of the end zone? Does Brad Daluiso have a Super Bowl ring? Sorry, Western Michigan fans, but I don’t need two kickers.
— Marv Albert is a living legend, but Rich Gannon continues to be among the worst in terms of broadcast analysts. Yes, the guy who told us Trent Edwards would “put it all together” ad nauseum couldn’t decide what he loved more:
1) the genius of Tony Sparano at utilizing the Wildcat with Tim Tebow
2) the ignorance of Tony Sparano at putting Tim Tebow in for Mark Sanchez in order to run said Wildcat with Tim Tebow.
Keep on truckin’, Gannon.
— The special teams really shouldn’t get overlooked here, because they too were awful. Punt return TD may have been the backbreaker, but why isn’t Rian Lindell handling onside kicks? He’s good at it.
— I’m so sick of replacement ref talk. Football fans almost always complain about calls, so why do we need to pretend that’s amplified by replacement refs? Do we miss Ed Hochuli’s pythons that much? (Well, probably…)
— If you weren’t “done” with Leodis McKelvin before today, how can you not be now? He’s not even close to an adequate cover corner and I also can’t say he’s a good enough returner to keep a youngster like T.J. Graham — whom the Bills traded up for — off the field.
Stat line I liked…
Scott Chandler, four receptions, 38 yards, TD
– Very pleased to see him start another season with a touchdown. I’m still puzzled at only carrying two tight ends (Lee Smith had one grab for five yards), but that’s the new NFL.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Ryan Fitzpatrick, 18-of-32, 195 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT
— You really want an explanation for this?
Who else are you going to give it to? A defensive back?
It really is just one game… where you may have lost two offensive starters to injury. Yet, truly, one game.
GREAT news: the Chiefs are still not very good at American football and they are traveling to the Ralph, which is a good spot for a home opener even in lean times. I’m going to stay positive and not label this year as part of the lean times just yet, so Buffalo 31, Kansas City 17.