The Schein Nine  

 

Mark Sanchez, Jets step up in Week 1; Ryan Fitzpatrick folds

Dear Redskins Nation,

I am happy to admit I was dead wrong on Robert Griffin III walking into a hornet's nest Sunday. Color me ultra-impressed with his incredible poise, accuracy and strength. He was the best player and biggest story in Week 1.

Best,
AS

Now that we got that out of the way, on with The Schein Nine ...

1) On the Mark

In my first column on NFL.com, I commented on how I witnessed a different Mark Sanchez all offseason in terms of his commitment, arm strength, attitude, dealings with the media and how he handled the scrutiny and daily questions since the Tim Tebow trade. I believed in it. So did the Jets. But we needed to see it when it counted.

The most impressive and important development in the Jets' 48-28 pasting of the Bills was Sanchez's ability to take a punch. Take that, haters.

Mark Sanchez started the game with a gruesome, Bubby Brister-esque pick. The 2011 Mark Sanchez crumbles, and one mistake snowballs into five. Instead, Sanchez rocked steady, shook off the miscue and threw three gorgeous touchdown passes, carving up the rebuilt Bills defense.

The world wondered when, not if, Sanchez would crack when Tony Sparano brought in Tebow to run the wildcat. Sparano sprinkled it in and the world didn't end.

Remember when the Jets' first-team offense didn't score in the preseason and the critics had a field day? Does 48 points in Week 1 work as at least a temporary silencer? I'll write it again: The Jets are going 10-6.

So after a Week 1 win, skeptics want to see you do it again. After the Jets' collapse last season, that's understandable. The Jets have the Steelers on Sunday in Pittsburgh. Darrelle Revis suffered a mild concussion last Sunday. If he's healthy, the Jets will beat the Steelers. They have a better defense. The win against Buffalo was not a fluke.

2) Folded Bills

On the flip side, it doesn't get much worse as a start for Buffalo. Mario Williams and the defensive line I called the best in football was inexplicably invisible. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to make horrific decisions and bad throws with the three picks.

Fitzpatrick has done nothing since signing his big extension last season. It's like he wears a mask and carries a gun when he collects his paychecks. With injuries to key players (Fred Jackson, David Nelson) and pressure mounting from a playoff-starved fan base, Fitzpatrick has more pressure on him now than ever.

I wonder aloud if he's up for it.

3) Statement made

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The San Francisco 49ers are currently the best team in the NFL. I would've ranked them second behind Green Bay going into Week 1. If you don't recognize San Fran as a legit Super Bowl contender, you aren't paying attention.

As NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Carlos Rogers once again proved, the 49ers have the best defense in the NFL. Alex Smith is super confident and doesn't make mistakes. Randy Moss gave the passing attack sizzle. Frank Gore remains a beast.

4) He's back

Watching Peyton Manning execute in the no-huddle told me that he's, well, Peyton Manning. And wait until he gets even more comfortable with his receivers. Sure, the miles per hour have dipped slightly on the fastball. With his savvy, that's irrelevant.

5) Good news, bad news

I can't wait for the Monday night showdown between the Falcons and Broncos. We shouldn't be surprised by Matt Ryan's Week 1 dominance. He's that good. Julio Jones is a star. (Worth noting that Atlanta took advantage of the Chiefs playing without two of their best defenders, as Brandon Flowers was hurt and Tamba Hali was suspended.)

But the news that cornerback Brent Grimes is done for the year with a torn ACL is gigantic. Good thing Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff traded for Asante Samuel in the offseason. That move and the appointment of Mike Nolan as the defensive coordinator (you saw the instant improvement in Week 1) could save this defense and keep Atlanta on track to live up to my expectations of winning the division and a playoff game.

6) Joe knows

It is easy to rip Joe Flacco for his woe-is-me demeanor and dealings with the press. And some of his play in the past, including last season, has been inconsistent.

But ever since Ed Reed came on the SiriusXM Blitz before the AFC title game last season and questioned Flacco, the quarterback has been brilliant. He outplayed Tom Brady in the championship game. He was flawless Monday night against Cincy. He put on an absolute clinic. That's a strong and well-coached Bengals defense. No wonder John Harbaugh kept saying "Pay the man" after the game.

7) Faker!

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was in a good mood when we chatted on the SiriusXM Blitz on Monday. He quipped that he told Adrian Peterson after the game that he was "faking" his ACL injury. That's how good Peterson looked, how dominant he was late in the game. Frazier was honest when he said, "Nobody expected that." This is a major development.

The untold story for the Vikings is how solid Christian Ponder played, especially on the final drive in regulation after the Jaguars took the lead. Frazier raved about Ponder's "grasp of the offense and leadership since Day 1 of the offseason program." The Vikes survived adversity Sunday. Last year, they didn't, and the season fell apart. This is a big deal.

8) Lucky and good

The Eagles were the luckiest team in Week 1. Michael Vick and the offense were horrendous. Andy Reid needed to call more running plays. Philly's offense deserved to lose.

Good thing the Eagles were playing the Browns.

Brandon Weeden looked dazed and confused, throwing four picks. Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans told us on the SiriusXM Blitz they were cognizant of the struggles for the Philly offense; the defenders kept saying to each other, "It's on us," throughout the game. Sure, it was against the inept Browns. But that was a nice statement for the previously maligned Eagles defense.

9) Three and out

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» Horrible game plan by the Carolina Panthers. How do you not give Cam Newton balance and challenge a Buccaneers run defense that was deplorable last season?

» Great job by the Texans giving Matt Schaub a contract extension. Schaub told us on the SiriusXM Blitz he was energized by the "faith and commitment" from owner Bob McNair, GM Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak. Funny to think a lot of folks, myself included, wondered a few years ago if Schaub could stay healthy and Kubiak was the right coach to take Houston to the playoffs.

» The replacement refs giving Seattle four timeouts in the second half was horrendous and could've wrongly changed the season for Arizona.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein

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