AFC East Preseason Week 1 Recap

Jet Quarterback Tim Tebow
(as if you don't know who this guy is, the media won't shut up about him)
Looks downfield in New York's preseason opener
against the Cincinnati Bengals

So with Week 1 of the NFL Preseason over, there are a few things that I found useful. When people talk about preseason, you hear the terms "not real football" and "doesn't count." The reason for this is because, for the most part, it's true! As far as evaluating the starters, it's not entirely too useful. Drew Brees completed 1 pass against the Patriots. CLEARLY he won't be the starters, right guys? Obviously I'm being facetious. Point is, while there are some things that absolutely can't be evaluated, there certainly are some things that can be. I'll go into detail about the Pats, and throw some key things to watch out for against our division rivals. So, here are some takeaways from the first real Week 1 (apparently the Hall of Fame Game counts as the official Week 1) of football in the AFC East:

New England Patriots:

> Chandler Jones is a FORCE. I could tell when I watched some 'Cuse games that he had edge rush abilities. You line Jones up on any offensive tackle and he while find his way around him. What was an incredibly pleasant surprise was his ability to bullrush the blocker, showing tremendous power, power compared by Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod to that of Jason Pierre-Paul. As Gregg Rosenthal put it "...rookie pass rusher Chandler Jones made Saints Pro Bowl pick Jermon Bushrod look like a [Division 2] prospect."

> Dont'a Hightower is living up to expectation. Rarely does a team have every draft pick pan out, and for the Patriots, usually the real success comes in the later rounds. However, just like Jones, New England's other 1st round pick showed the team exactly why they drafted him. He recorded 3 tackles, but looked very comfortable against one of the most prolific offenses in pro football.

> Without Brandon Spikes in, the Pats defense still looked sharp. Just imagine what he'll do for it. Everyone talks about the fire he brings to the squad, and it's well deserved. Spikes is what football people like to call a thumper, (someone who hits REALLY hard) and contributes to that defense in ways a lot of others cannot.

> Brady went deep. In the preseason opener, Tom Brady took a shot down the field to Brandon Lloyd, and though a great defensive play broke it up, get ready to see a lot more of that. Brandon Lloyd isn't exactly a household name, so for those of you looking for more information, you've come to the right place. Lloyd is the addition that makes me believe New England will have the NFL's best offense. Lloyd had a breakout year in 2010 in which he led the NFL in receiving yards, but other than that year, his stats seem unspectacular. Here's why this pickup is more impressive than it might seem. Over the past two seasons, on passes that travelled at least 20 yards downfield, Brandon Lloyd had 73 targets, (NFL best) 27 receptions, (NFL best) and a remarkable 0 drops. Every time Kyle Orton in Denver, or Sam Bradford in St. Louis put the ball where it needed to be, the Lloyd came up with it. Keep an eye out for him.

Miami Dolphins:

>With Chad Johnson being released due to his recent arrest (Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin insists it has nothing to do with any one particular incident, but he's not fooling me) the Dolphins aren't thin at wide receiver, they're damn near non-existent. Who's going to be their number 1 receiver, Davone Bess? To put this into perspective, I don't think that ANY of Miami's wide receivers would land a roster spot in New England. We might want to blitz all 11 when we play them, because if they're gaining yards this year, those yards are coming in their running game.

Buffalo Bills:

> The Bills are my sleeper pick for an AFC Wild Card berth in the playoffs.

> The Bills looked awful in their preseason opener, nothing like a sleeper pick.

> Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't look amazing, but that doesn't say much. We saw last year that he can thrive in Chan Gailey's system. He can play like a scrub at times, but his performance isn't the key bit of info here. Backup quarterback Vince Young was terrible. Young has a 30-17 record as a starter in the NFL, so many Buffalo fans see him as a viable backup if their beloved Fitzy goes down. Make no mistake: Vince Young is a terrible NFL quarterback. His throwing motion is awful, and he showed off his ability to throw a bad pass in their opener. Be afraid Bills fans, this guy could ruin your season if he sees the field.

New York Tebows:

> Tebow. Tim Tebow showed why the Jets traded for him, gaining huge yards on the ground. And while he didn't look comfortable from under center, he did lead his team down the field for 3 points, unlike Mark Sanchez, who came up with a fat goose egg. In my opinion, there is no QB controversy in New York, because Tim Tebow WILL be the starter. Sanchez has gotten no better over the course of his career. For the most part, the Jets don't have a legitimate receiving option outside of Santonio Holmes and somewhat overrated tight end Dustin Keller. So the QB is going to have to run the ball, plain and simple. The Jets didn't use Tebow in the Wildcat at all, which indicates that they are saving it for the regular season. In a closed practice, the Jets fully practiced their Wildcat package, though Tebow and Sanchez both wisely kept their mouths shut about details. Tebow said the usual, about how excited he is, blah blah blah, and Sanchez deferred to Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.