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September 15, 2009 10:30 AM

Local Papers' Takes on AFC Teams after Week 1

With week 1 now in the books there's no better time to take a look at the local papers for some gross exaggerations of doom for the season, naive optimism, and the occasional level-headed thought.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills
Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News:

This is becoming an annual rite, but I have to ask the question again, the same one I asked after the Dallas game two years ago, and the Cleveland game a year ago. How much more of this can a Bills fan take?

For most franchises, a loss like this might be seen as a positive. The Bills inexperienced offensive line played much better than expected, the offense was able to move the ball, and the defense shut down the Pats for all but the last 5:30 of the game. But for Buffalo fans it's just another case of the Bills finding a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


Miami Dolphins
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:

The best thing about Sunday's football game for the Miami Dolphins? That the team bus was on time leaving the stadium afterward so that this mess of a season opener might begin to recede, fast as possible, in the rearview.

The Dolphins had to come back down to Earth right? Could Chad Pennington really lead THIS offense to 11 victories like he did last season?


New England Patriots
Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe:

Oh ye of limited faith. Have you forgotten about No. 12? “He whispered ‘We’re gonna win this game,’ and I’m being as honest as I can be,’’ said Taylor. Time and again, the word “situations,’’ or the phrase “situational football’’ reverberated throughout the Patriots locker room. History has taught us, for example, that Brady loves the two-minute drill. And there still are a lot of people on this team who’ve been through some tough battles with him.

To hear them tell it, this game was won weeks ago, next door, on the practice field. Situations. The Patriots practice them all.


Of course. It's ALWAYS the Patriots' system that wins them games. Well, that mixed with some magic from Tom Brady. Just admit the Bills blew this game, the Pats got lucky, and move on.


New York Jets
Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post:

"I knew I had to play well," the new quarterback said, "because this team is relying on me to play well."
He did, and so did they, a smashing start to a season that can't possibly proceed as perfectly as this day did. No matter. There'll be other days to fret about the future. This one, they were entitled to enjoy it.

Jets' fans have a reason to be ecstatic. A rookie QB goes on the road and defeats a team that many picked to win their division? Sanchez looked like a veteran out there but the Patriots could bring him back to reality this week.


AFC WEST

Denver Broncos
Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post:

If Denver gets its heart shattered and loses the season opener without scoring a touchdown, angry Broncomaniacs question the offensive genius of hiring McDaniels from New England.
But just find a way to win, baby, and everybody in Colorado rushes out to buy a lottery ticket before the good karma expires. In victory, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen takes 10 years off his age and adds 10 points to his IQ, while ESPN football professor John Clayton might have to go back to the chalkboard and recalculate the 3-13 record he predicted for Denver.

I don't think Clayton is scrambling for that chalk. Winning the way the Broncos did proves nothing about this squad. They needed a lucky bounce to beat an awful team. 3-13 is still very much a possibility.


Kansas City Chiefs
Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star:

Draw any conclusion you like from the Chiefs’ season-opening, 38-24 loss to the Ravens.
The Chiefs were more competitive than you expected. Kansas City’s defense was an embarrassment. KC’s defense was undermined by an offensive unit that couldn’t sustain anything for three quarters. Things will improve when Matt Cassel is healthy enough to play.
Take your pick. They can all be defended.

This is exactly the type of schizophrenic thinking that goes on in every fan's head after week one. With so little information to go on, we have no idea how our team is going to do - well, except the Lions...


Oakland Raiders
Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times:

They've got 15 more games, and suddenly that seems like a good thing instead of a prison sentence.

Way to go Al Davis! You've lowered expectations so much that collapsing in the final minutes is considered a success.


San Diego Chargers
Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

No matter the outcome, it was an awful performance by a team that was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, another bad beginning under Turner, who couldn't have been pleased with much of anything that went on last night, including his coaching.

Don't the Chargers always do this? Is anyone THAT surprised? They always sputter at the beginning of the season but they'll wind up in the playoffs because of that weak division.


AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens
Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun:

There is great euphoria in Baltimore now because the Ravens have a real quarterback and offense. But a major concern lies underneath: The Ravens must not stray too far from their strength, and that's running the football.

Is the running game so ingrained in Baltimore that they can't appreciate passing? Or how about even a balanced attack? Passing doesn't have to be so scary - just ask Brees, Brady, or Manning.


Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

This only happens in video games and volleyball. And here. It happens here. A black cloud lingers, on the bluest of days. The Bengals are a shrink’s life’s work, their fans make Sisyphus look like a girly-man. What happened Sunday amounted to cruel and unusual, though. Even here.

Cruel and unusual? Cruel and unusual is having Mike Brown as your owner. Join the revolution!


Cleveland Browns
Patrick McManamon of the Akron Beacon-Journal:

The Browns' 10th season-opening loss in 11 seasons was bad.
Very bad.
It would be nice to say that things have changed for the Browns.
But it would be a lie — as the 34-20 loss Sunday showed.

Wow. That's some hide the razor blades and Tylenol truth right there.


Pittsburgh Steelers
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Who says you have to run the ball to win?
Dial up the 1995 season, when the Steelers won the AFC and lost to Dallas in the Super Bowl. They set their passing record that season with 4,093 yards gross, 3,917 net. They averaged 244.8 yards passing that season against 115.8 rushing, just 10 yards more per game than they rushed last season. That season, they ranked eighth in the NFL passing, 12th rushing.
It's one of only three times since 1981 they've ranked in the top 10 in the league in passing. The others came in 2002 (seventh) and 2006 (ninth), both playoff seasons.
So even the Steelers, who have a history of preferring the rugged ground game, have shown you can win with a better passing game.
Why not now?

That's the open-mindedness I'm looking for. The Ravens could learn a thing or two from the Steelers.


AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:

First, I'd like to apologize to everyone who picked the Jets. I thought you were nuts. Obviously, I'm the one who was nuts. I'm an idiot.
I never saw it coming. Considering the high expectations, the way the Texans finished last year, the way they ranked third in offense, the way they had every starter back on offense and the way they made key additions on defense -- I think this was the worst performance in franchise history.

Pulling out the "worst performance in franchise history?" You do remember you guys drafted David "Mittens" Carr, right?


Indianapolis Colts
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star:

We'll be reminded there are no style points in the NFL and that a win is a win is a win -- especially a divisional win during a weekend when the other three AFC South teams lost. But the team's perpetually weak underbelly was exposed again: After spending all of camp emphasizing the running game, especially those third-and-short -- and fourth-and-short -- situations, the Colts failed miserably Sunday.

Who needs the running game when you have Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Anthony Gonz...oh, he's out for an extended period? Yeah, you better get that running game going.


Jacksonville Jaguars
Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union:

The Jaguars lost this game because, despite holding Indianapolis to its seventh-lowest point total in Manning’s dozen seasons, they simply didn’t have enough firepower to put up a lousy 15 points.

Don't worry fans in Jacksonville - with all the blackouts you'll hardly get to see that inept offense.


Tennessee Titans
Joe Biddle of the Tennessean:

The Titans will be fine. No one's won them all since 1972.
There are 15 regular season games left. They can still win the AFC South. They can still make the playoffs. They can still win the Super Bowl.
Yet some Titans fans are convinced it's all over.
If Titans players gave up that easy, it would be all over.
Fortunately the fans don't play.

Don't you know the drill Joe Biddle? You're supposed to be in full panic mode? THAT'S how you get readers, not with these sensible arguments against mass panic.

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