2015 2nd (Maybe Third) Kind of Annual Season Preview Overreactions
It’s here! The regular season starts tomorrow, so let’s take a nice in depth look at each team in the division by positional group and make some surefire predictions about how they will pan out.
Let’s start with the low hanging fruit:
The New England Patriots: The Pats are the best team in the division, as they have been for the better part of two decades. This might be the year that they start to fall off though. Come to think of it, probably not.
Defensive Line: B- The defensive line for the Pats has been such a constant since Vince Wilfork arrived in Foxboro that thinking of them as average is weird, but average is being a bit generous at this point. Rob Nikovitch is a solid NFL player who will more often than not be in the right place at the right time and make a big play, so far so good. Chandler Jones blows (correction, Chnadler Jones is wonderful on 1st down, just don’t ask him to be present at a big moment in any game) and Dominique Easley is made of the finest china. Oh yeah Alan Branch’s fat, drunken rear end plays for the Pats still, so that’s a positive. Jabaal Sheard is the new guy that looks pretty decent, we’ll see, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll find the bench if he plays too well.
Linebackers: A- the Linebackers are really the only “strong to quite strong” unit the pats have on defense; Mayo will be solid until about week 5 when all the kings’ horses and al the kings’ men can no longer put Jerod together again. But I honestly think that won’t be too big of a deal, with mayo out, Hightower can move inside where he is far more comfortable, Jamie Collins is just a freak and will be good anywhere. With Mayo out, someone like Rufus Johnson could emerge.
Defensive backs: D What did you expect? Malcom Butler has made exactly one play in his NFL career and suddenly he’s Deion Freaking Sanders? Yes, the kid has looked decent this preseason, but remember he looked great least preseason and by week two was benched for Logan Ryan (who could very well be the worst corner in all of the NFL). On the other side we have some conglomeration of Tarell Brown, Bradley ‘Toast” Fletcher and the aforementioned Logan Ryan. Woof. The safeties are equally as terrible, Patrick “I can’t cover a paraplegic in the flat” Chung is starting at Strong Safety and Devin “I’m always two steps late but I’ll be sure to make the tackle” McCourty is sure to remind everyone of how incredibly average he was before Revis came to new England and how horribly he’s overpaid. God, I get nauseas just thinking about these Dummies trying to defend a real passing attack.
Offensive Line: B- They’re meh without the Majestic Stork strutting around the sideline. Nate Soldier is one of the more overrated players on the team and Sebastian Vollmer is pretty good, but can be exposed by fast DE’s (which this division has in spades). The guards are a bit of a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a vest. Trey Jackson has shown flashes but is most certainly a rookie and Shaq Mason just learned what a passing play is, so let’s not look for them to be world beaters yet. Ryan Wendall is the best of the interior (let that sink in for a moment). The aforementioned Stork is the key to the Pats’ success (assuming the health of Brady and Gronk); with him they’ll be great, without, watch out.
Running Backs: C+ I feel like I’m being a little generous here, but in reality does it matter? Running backs are a dying breed in the NFL, just line up anyone and you’ll be fine. Once Blount gets back from his blunt induced suspension, they’ll be fine, not great, but fine.
Wide Receivers: B- Edelman is good (but can he stay healthy?) and Lafell is on PuP. OK, um well there’s that kid named Harper that made the team, yeah he’s pretty good right? Oh yeah Danny Amendola was actually decent towards the end of last year and by all reports has had a great camp. So maybe if he and Edelman time their injuries right things will be OK. Kenbrell Thompkins is back on the Pats practice squad, so you can count on some folks telling you that he’s in for a big year as well.
Tight Ends: A++++++++ Scott Chandler is good, Bills fans tend to disagree with me, but they should remember that he was catching passes from the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, EJ Manuel, Kyle Orten and the like. Tom Brady may be able do a little more with a man of his stature. And Rob Gronkowski- ‘nuff said.
Quarterback: A++++ A week ago we could have been speculating a different name here. SUCK IT GOODELL AND ALL OF YOU HATERS WHO JUST NEED AN EXCUSE AS TO WHY THE PATS SODOMIZED YOUR TEAM.
Next up the Buffalo Bills:
Defensive Line: A+ Let’s see Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes. Yeah, they’re pretty good. Mario is that rare free agent that gets a truckload of money and actually continues to work. He’s not worth $100MM but what non-QB that’s not named JJ Watt is? Jerry Hughes is a funny case, it’s amazing how just getting away from Indianapolis can make you a good defender again. We’ll see if he keeps it up this year, but I’ve got no reason to think he shouldn’t. And then there’s the two fat guys in the middle, Marcel Darius and Kyle Williams are arguably the best DT tandem in the NFL, so yeah…
Linebackers: C Well this is without a doubt the real weakness of the Bills’ defense. Manny Lawson, Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown make up what we could call the ramen noodle group. They’re OK and they’ll get the job done but really you’d rather have nearly anything else.
Defensive Backs: B- Stephon Gilmore, Cory Williams and Aaron Williams are pretty good players. They’d start on nearly every other NFL team and will make some plays to make sure teams don’t just have a field day on those downs where the pass rush doesn’t make it to the QB. And then there’s Ronald Darby. He’s such a pig that even his own position coach is now admitting that he’s already been exposed. Lucky for him, Rex is a good defensive coach and should be able to hide him in the scheme.
Offensive Line: C- Offense is really where the Bills’ hopes of ending the league’s longest running playoff drought break down. And the offensive line is a big reason for that. Eric Wood is serviceable and Ritchie Incognito might be the world’s biggest a-hole, but he’s a pretty good blocker; it’s the rest of the Bills’ line that sucks Bison testicles. Reports out of Buffalo over the summer had Rex Ryan shopping in the screen door section of Home Depot for a representative replacement for Cordy Glenn, John Miller and Seantrel Henderson. Good luck trying ground and pound behind that line.
Running Backs: B+ Last week this grade was an A, but as we all know, Doug Whaley went rouge and cut the best thing that’s happened to the Bills in a decade. Shady McCoy is however a beast and he should be able to hold the Bills offense in some games for the first half until he inevitably gets nicked up and has to sit out the second half. The group of Boobie Dixon, Karlos Williams and Bryce Brown will be decent during those times when Shady requires a tune up.
Wide receivers: B- Sammy Watkins is really good, he’ll never make that “got to have it” play or show up in a big game, but he’ll pile up stats and demand attention from the opposing defense. The rest of the bunch that includes Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley would probably be god enough if there was someone on the team that could deliver them the ball.
Tight Ends: B Sorry Bills fans, I know that you are super excited about stealing a guy away from the rival Dolphins, but Charles “Medium Sized Play” Clay isn’t the game changer that you think he is. He’s good, if he can stay healthy he’ll be on the field, but don’t expect any “did you see that” moments out of him.
Quarterback: D- This probably should be an F minus, but I’ll give Tyrod Taylor a chance here. I’ve never liked what I’ve seen out of him, but for a game or two this year (probably games 1 and 3) he’ll no doubt have all of Erie County wet with excitement. Then he’ll no doubt do what most Bills’ QBs do and crap his pants leading to his benching and subsequent season long QB controversy.
Next up, a team that never fails to get the fanbase all lubed up in March, only dry up and chaffe them like sandpaper in December, the Miami Dolphins.
Defensive Line: A- The big free agent splash of the winter once again occurred on South Beach when the Fins (tampered with and then) signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, arguably the best defensive tackle in all of football. This addition to the already formidable pass rushing duo of Cameron “O2” Wake and Olivier Vernon makes the Fins’ d-line one to be reckoned with and entrenches them firmly in the discussion of the best d-line groups in football (although I personally put them a tier below the likes of Buffalo, Houston, etc…). There’s also a guy named Earl Mitchell on that unit but he really sounds more like a guy that owns the country store down the way in backwoods Georgia.
Linebackers: C- Another group that is merely there. There is nothing special about Koa Misi, kelvin Sheppard or Jelani Jenkins, but they are good athletes so there is some potential there. Don’t expect much out of this group, but they will no doubt raise an eyebrow or two at times this season.
Defensive Backs: B This might open me up t the wrath of Miko, but I don’t really see much to get excited about with this group. Brent Grimes is a very good corner, but he’s obviously a second tier guy when you compare him to the “elite” guys in the league. He will make a couple of plays this year that make you say, “Oh wow, that guy is awesome,” but more often than not he’ll just blend into the background. Reshad Jones is a legit player and I think he has the potential to develop in to possible the best safety in the division this year. The rest of the secondary is a mish mash of average guys and rookies, although I think Tony Lippett is one of the steals of the draft and will turn out to be an excellent NFL player (he might also be the second best receiver on the Fins’ roster right now).
Offensive Line: D- The offensive line remains the Achilles heel of the Dolphins organization and the main reason that no one outside of Fins’ nation has any faith that this team will make any real noise. Mike Pouncy is the best you’ve got and then there’s Brandon Albert who was really good a few years ago but has been ravaged by injury so counting on him is optimistic at best. Juwanna Man James, Jamil Douglas and Dallas Thomas are all reserves for most any other team, so hopefully the QB got his wheels shined during the offseason.
Running Backs: B+ LM3K and company are pretty good and it’s fortunate that; considering the offensive line that they need to run behind, they are very fast. If Bill Lazor and company continue to commit to the run, Lamar could once again reach “River Jump” status. The additions of Lamichael James and rookie Jay ASJHUDHUISDY should give the Fins enough depth to keep Miller rested throughout the season.
Wide Receivers: B It’s a decent group. Landry Jones is really good and I think that he has the potential to build on last year and really become Lauren’s Husband’s favorite target. As for DeVante Parker, offseason foot surgery typically spells doom for young receivers, I’m not saying he’s Aaron Dobson, but this year may end up as a lost one when looking back in a few years. Additionally, bringing in Kenny Stills was a nice move. He’s got good big play potential and assuming Laurens Husband can get the ball out there, he fills the need that Fins fans the world over assured us that Mike Wallace filled. Lastly, Greg Jennings is a solid veteran who will do well while riding out the twilight of his career.
Tight End: C Jordan Cameron was good once, but now his brain resembles the contents of a watermelon if you were to just cut a small hole in the top and mix up the insides with an electric beater. He’s one well-placed bird sh*t away from spending the rest of his days in a dark room. Honestly, I kind of feel the same way about him as I do Wes Welker, it’s just not worth it dude.
Quarterback: B+ This is the year that all of the haters will have a nice warm plate of crow served to them by Lauren’s Husband. He’s finally the bread winner in the family and within months he’ll be a household name. well maybe not that, but if Tanny can stay standing behind that Swiss cheese offensive line, he has the potential to be a top 10 QB this season.
Last and most certainly least, I present the New York Jets.
Defensive Line: B A few weeks ago, this was an A as well. But then Superstar DT Sheldon Richardson went on his dope smoking Cannonball run and then tested positive for banned substances (he says it was weed, but I maintain that ‘weed’ is the new ‘adderol’). So we are left with a guy that Rex Ryan dubbed “Snacks” a few years ago, an incredibly talented rookie (and possible RoY candidate) in Leonard Williams and one of the best DE’s in football, Muhammad Wilkerson. This is group that will give teams fits all year and hold the jets in most games.
Linebackers: B This is a group that I am not a huge fan of. I know that some Jets fans will tell you that because Quinton Coples ‘was in the top ten in QB hit last year’ he is a great player and should be feared, but all I see is a quitter that has never put in the work necessary to capitalize on his incredible natural gifts. David Harris is a tackling machine, but tackles are a stat that occurs on nearly every single play of every single game, someone has to get them. As for Demario Davis and Calvin Pace, is anyone impressed? Pace was mistaken for the Crypt Keeper just last week and Davis might be the most forgettable player in football.
Defensive Backs: A Having the best corner in football automatically gives you this grade. Revis changes the entire defense and makes literally everyone on the field better, end of story. Cro may also have something left and Calvin Pryor, while wildly overrated by Jets fans, is a pretty good player and would be an upgrade over say, Pat Chung and he’s young so there’s a chance there. As for Marcus Gilchrist, eh, Todd Bowles is a good coach and he’ll have Revis covering up for him, so I wouldn’t be too worried.
Offensive Line: C- They’re not good. D’Brickishaw is old and so is Holly’s brother and they are the best the Jets have. It’s lucky that the Jets are expected to do literally nothing on offense this year, because this line could derail even the most potent offense. Willie Colon sucks, James carpenter blows and I;ve never even heard of Breno Giacomini. Good luck.
Running Backs: B+ I actually like Chris Ivory, he hits the hole hard and doesn’t go down easy, so there’s a lot to like in that player. As for the rest, Zac Stacey, Bilal Powel, et al, they will no doubt fill in admirably if Ivory needs a break. Don’t expect a record setting ground game from the Jets, but it should be OK.
Wide Receivers: B- I have always like Brandon Marshall’s game, it’s just a matter of which of his forty five personalities shows up. He’s a hell of a player, but the QB/ O-line situation in Jersey has the potential to have him ripping the offense by week 3. Jeremy Kerley is the prototypical little Jet receiver, cut from the mold of Wayne Chrebet and the like, Kerley is a scrapper that finds a way to make plays. Now Devin Smith, or Ted Gin 2.0. I think he sucks, yes he is very fast, but he’s soft as puppy poo and will probably quit football within 3 years because it’s too hard and caches are mean to him.
Tight End: C+ Well Jeff Cumberland always kills the Pats, so there’s that. When not playing the Pats he’s just a guy, he’ll be serviceable and not kill you.
Quarterback: D- Hey, this was an F minus a few weeks ago before Ik broke Geno’s jaw, so at least the team has finally seen some improvement at the position. Fitz will manage the game and throw a crippling pick at just the wrong time, you know it, I know it and the opponents know it. I just hope that Todd Bowles knows it.