much to say here. I did post a separate essay along with these
week four reviews. (“Talk
of Patriots going undefeated? Not in New England”)
team looks good… playing well… one of the best in the NFL.
a big one though… in the next four games, the Patriots have the
Cowboys, Colts, Jets and Dolphins. If they can run that stretch,
things get really interesting. New England has a history of playing
strong in November and December. If… and it’s a big if… if they
get to 7-0, they will have cleared the first wave of games against
each AFC East opponent (and have a two game lead in the division,
since a win over the Jets would give each of the other teams in
the division 2 or more losses), and they will have beaten the
Steelers and Colts leaving just the Broncos as an opponent on
the schedule where a head-to-head victory could matter in playoff
don’t go getting all excited about perfection. There are still
four games against AFC East teams… the Broncos and Giants as just
two of the remaining opponents… and, even if they do get to the
Super Bowl at 18-0, we’ve all seen what can happen in the final
game before. It doesn’t count until they’ve all been won.
say this as simply as I can… Ryan Fitzpatrick comes with a shelf
life. Unfortunately, he never has a sell by date that you can
don’t cheat… in his personal trophy room, how many uniforms of
professional football teams has Fitzpatrick worn before placing
a helmet in the display case at his home?
a reason the man has played with St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo,
Tennessee and Houston before joining the Jets. He’s been in the
league since 2005, and has worn six different uniforms. That’s
just less than two years per team. (and keep in mind… four years
were spent with the Bills, so it’s quite fair to speculate that
he doesn’t buy real estate often.)
you check out his career stats, they don’t look hideous. Last
time he threw more interceptions than touchdowns? 2008 with the
Bengals. Last time he completed less than 60% of his passes? 2010,
in year two with the Bills. And those career stats… not great,
not hideous… hint at the larger problem. Because with so many
teams looking for quarterbacks, and many sticking with quarterbacks
that seem to be driving their organizations into a brick wall,
and a few teams having struggles with open competitions that haven’t
been settled even though we’re weeks into the season and none
of the quarterback names on their roster have changed since before
the summer… Hi there Washington fans! How’s it going Chicago fans?
What’s new Houston fans?… if a guy with marginal stats was consistent,
he’d probably be able to slide in as an unquestioned starter.
isn’t great. But I think we can classify his career stats as a
bit better than marginal.
that word though? Consistent. And at some point this year, Ryan
Fitzpatrick is going to do what Ryan Fitzpatrick does. And that
could be trouble, since there isn’t anyone else on the roster,
available in trade or as a free agent, and there’s no one holding
a magical ticket in some organizational sweepstakes that will
allow a fan to take the field, that improves on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
offense? Could be the downfall.
thing I can say is this… Fitzpatrick may actually make the playoffs
this time. He might. Because the defense is going to keep them
in most games, and also allow the offense to get away with mediocre
performances in a few games. In short… no one in New York is expecting
Ryan Fitzpatrick to break scoreboards or set records. It might
be nice to see what he can do without everyone pointing at him
when things are going wrong.
few months ago, before the season started and it seemed like Tom
Brady might be out for a few games, I thought there was a chance
that the Buffalo Bills could take the AFC East.
didn’t believe they would actually do it. I just thought there
was a chance. If… big if… the Patriots slipped down into the range
of 9 to 11 wins because of a slow start, the Bills were the team
I thought were best prepared to potentially step into the opportunity.
Matt Cassel for one. Yes, I know, his career looks eerily similar
to Fitzpatrick. The Bills are his fourth team since joining the
league in 2005. Heck… his completion percentage is worse than
Fitzpatrick’s. But he looked good in 2008 with the Patriots and
pretty darn good in 2010 with the Chiefs. And honestly, on a team
with a ridiculously strong defense, plus Sammy Watkins and LeSean
McCoy around him on offense, he seemed like a really great fit
for the Bills… an experienced quarterback that would readily accept
the responsibilities of playing a controlled approach that asked
very little of him beyond managing the game.
then there was that stellar defense. Strong pass rush. Likely
one of the top defenses in the league.
yeah… I liked what was going on.
Cassel basically became the third quarterback on the team. The
Patriots destroyed their defense (and honestly, destroyed the
entire team), while the entire AFC East is cakewalking across
the Colts (making that win a bit suspect). And here we are, the
Bills have lost two games… both at home.
yeah… I’m scratching my head about the Bills today. 2-2 is not
bad… talent is still there… but things don’t seem right. There’s
something not connecting here.
me to say this… watch the next three weeks. They play the Titans,
Bengals, and Jaguars. The Jacksonville game is one of those lovely
journey-to-London games, followed by their bye week. A smart guess
is they go 2-1… maybe 3-0 (the Cincinnati game is at home, so
there is a shot, but as I’ve noted home field isn’t something
they’ve defended well this year). But if they are flying home
from England with a losing record… well… all hell could break
out. (In fact, after the bye week they play three straight division
games, with two of them on the road. Want ugly? Try being 3-4,
a home game against Miami followed by a Thursday night game on
the road against New York, and then an extended break that comes
with the Thursday game leading to the road for the Patriots.)
what I said about Fitzpatrick? That the team is strong enough
that expectations aren’t being piled on him? Well… Buffalo loudly
and proudly welcomed expectations for this season. And if they
begin to fall short, it might be a very painful fall.
not much to love about the Dolphins right now. They appear to
be every bit of a mess.
I don’t love the Dolphins. I look at their roster and it’s… just…
Tannehill is a nice quarterback, but he’s equal parts good and
not bad. You know… in general… nice. But he’s just as likely to
turn in a performance that makes you want to sign him to a multi-year
contract as he is to deliver a stinker that has you watching college
games and plotting draft positioning to determine the chances
of getting a quarterback of the future to replace him. Here… watch…
against the Jaguars… 30 for 44, 359 yards, 2 touchdowns
against the Bills… 26 for 49, 297 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
against the Jaguars and Bills… loss and loss
Tannehill… and that’s the Dolphins.
just don’t know what you’re going to get here. There’s enough
talent to suggest a winning streak here and there, and yes I mean
this very season. But there’s no structure, no organization, no
plan in place. And that puts success at least a year or two away…
and if it turns out that the Jets and Bills are improving (stay
with me on that… after all, Buffalo could be just be growing pains
under a new coaching staff), success for the Dolphins could be
further away than that.