Ahhh yes! This is my time of year; the pre-season, these are the games that overreactions live for. “Who’s that undrafted rookie from Western Fairbanks U that’s ripping it up against the fours? That guy is going to be an All Pro this year. What do you mean that he’s competing against a bunch of guys that aren’t good enough to make the Jags’ practice squad? When that guy goes up against the likes the Seahawks, 9ers, Broncos or Pats he’s going to own them.”
“Wait, my boy got cut? That’s why this team is going nowhere.”
That’s what pre-season games bring, so let’s get right to it. As always, we start with the worst:
First of all, after the performance that The New England Patriots showed us, the fact that they made the AFC Championship game last year is an indictment on the league as a whole. I mean this team just sucked. Whether it was Ryan Mallett throwing darts into the turf two yards in front of his receivers, or countless linebackers looking left while a Redskin (RACISIT!) running back ran right for 10 yards the Pats just sucked in every aspect of the game. There were two faint glimmers of hope though that should give Pats fans hope that maybe by 2017 they can sniff the playoffs again. First of those two guys was rookie corner back Malcom Butler- the undrafted rookie is surely this year’s Zach Sudfield. Next up was rookie QB Jimmy Garappolo, finally the Pats have a serviceable QB and they can get that old, declining guy out of the game.
Our next worst team is the Miami Dolphins. Somehow plastic Joe found a way to rust Ryan the Great’s lustrous performance. The opening drive was one for the ages and allowed the hapless Phins to snap a streak that impressed the Buffalo Bills- it had been 26 years (1988) since a Dolphin team had opened up the preseason with a TD drive. And then Joe took over and the Dolphins were toast. It’s not all DOOM and gloom in Dade County though, the young talent on the team showed flashes and provided the Phinatics dressed in orange hope that once Dawn finally springs for an exorcist and rids America’s wang of the ghost of Philbin, a competent coach could have this team in contention for a division title.
Well now that the losers are behind us, let’s take a look at the winners, first of whom would be the New York Jets. Expect to hear this more than a couple of times this year; the Jets won despite the suspect play of their Quarterbacks. Geno Smith seems to be channeling Chad Pennington and making a run strong bid for the title of “Captain Checkdown.” To the layman (so to Jets fans) Geno was super efficient and showed that he’s learned to not force the ball downfield. To the acutely trained eye, Geno is scared and knows if he turns the ball over too much, Jimmy the plumber from Long Island will be calling Joe and Evan screaming for Mike Vick to get the start. So we’ve made it to Vick; on the plus side, it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a geriatric move like that in quite some time. Mr. Vick proved that he is just the guy that we thought he was- an old dude who is still fast and can make a big play here and there but will offset that one play with two fumbles and a sprained knee. The Jets’ defense is going to hold them in games (assuming they are not all hurt) but they are going to have some real trouble overcoming their own offense.
Your front runners for division champion right now have to be the Buffalo Bills. EJ Manuel looked almost sharp in his second preseason performance of the year. He completed a few passes to top pick Sammy Watkins (who still says that their chemistry is “coming along”) but had to feel a little disappointment when he looked across to the other sideline and saw his FSU old running mate Kelvin Benjamin (who scored a TD in the game) and had visions of the 6’6” KB reeling in his overthrows all year. The Bills three headed running game is looking like it may end up with only two heads, but with CJ and Bryce Brown averaging 6+ per carry opposing defenses are sure to be having nightmares all season long. This is the Bills year, definitely not waiting until next.