Analysis  

 

Patriots, Eagles and (of course) Tim Tebow head debut mailbag

Your team so upsetting you could use a stay on a psychiatrist's sofa? Consider something cheaper and more fun: our weekly mailbag. Come here for answers to your football questions, but also for catharsis. We're looking at you, eternally-suffering Jets fans -- like this one:

And maybe even the occasional touchdown celebration. (We allow organized dances here.)

And now, we go as fast as Chip Kelly's offense ... to the questions!

Before people get upset when their team is mentioned in the "worst" category, let's remember that style points mean nothing in the NFL -- we'll leave the polls and the byzantine formula for determining who is on top for college football.

Having said that, we've seen the New England Patriots look a lot crisper than they did in their last-second, 23-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Integrating all those new faces at the skill positions clearly affected Tom Brady's rhythm, and the Patriots, as always, suffer from comparison -- to themselves. Anytime they are not bludgeoning an opponent, we think something is wrong. Still, considering Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker weren't there, the starting running back was benched for fumbling and Danny Amendola was hobbled, a game-winning drive against a division opponent -- on the road -- is impressive.

That brings us back to Matt's question about the Jets' chances on Thursday night. The answer is ... Well, maybe, but don't get your hopes up. The Jets were another team that looked bad in a victory -- after all, were it not for a mindless penalty, the Jets would have lost to a very underwhelming Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, and we would be poring over the remaining schedule, wondering which team(s) Gang Green could beat. Certainly, the Patriots' injuries -- running back Shane Vereen is already out, with Amendola likely to join him on the sideline (and don't get your hopes up for a Gronk return) -- are a potential problem, but here's one way to look at it, Matt: Would you rather have Brady throwing to almost anybody or Josh Freeman and the weapons the Bucs have around him? Right. Patriots. Which is why I don't think the Jets can beat them, especially in Foxborough.

Maybe, instead, the Jets will land in the "looked good in a loss" category, otherwise known as the moral victory slot. In an all-or-nothing league, coaches and players cringe at the idea, but the reality is the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals do have things to build on despite losing in Week 1.

EJ Manuel, the Carolina defense and Carson Palmer-to-Larry Fitzgerald hold promise for better days ahead. Buffalo fans might have the most to smile about through the tears: The Bills came achingly close to beating a perennial powerhouse with a quarterback and a head coach making their respective NFL debuts. The Bills lost because a depleted secondary couldn't stop Brady -- lots of company in that category. So, chin up, Buffalo.

And I'm glad we don't have a category for "looked horrendous in a really bad loss." Too negative this early in the year.

ACK! Nooooooooo. Follow my logic, T. The way to fix a bad team is not to inject a bad quarterback, especially one who has a propensity for becoming a polarizing figure. And in his hometown? And with a rookie head coach? No. If the problem you're trying to erase is empty seats, then by all means, sign Tebow. If you're trying to generate more offense for a team that didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter, well, Tebow is not going to do it, either.

The Patriots gave Tebow the best chance to work his way back into the league -- head coach Bill Belichick is a creative user of personnel, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels once believed in Tebow so much that he made him a first-round draft pick. If it couldn't work there, that should tell us something.

Not a chance, Luis. The reality is that Sanchez would have started the season if he were healthy because he performed better in training camp and the preseason, but Smith winning the job was the outcome that most of the Jets' brain trust wanted in the first place.

If Smith continues to look as he did Sunday -- composed, like the game wasn't too big for him -- he will retain the job whether the Jets win or lose and no matter Sanchez's health. The Jets have to find out if Smith is their guy going forward, and Sanchez's absence gives them a very convenient opening to do just that.

Let's take a deep breath -- actually, several deep breaths after that track meet Monday night. I was blown away by the Philadelphia Eagles' offense, too, and I was pleasantly surprised by the defense, at least early in the game. But before I put them in the Super Bowl -- Over the Niners? And the Seahawks? And the Packers? -- I have to see that defense perform against a quarterback who is not frantically chipping off rust from a knee injury. I have to see if Michael Vick can stay healthy. And I have to see if the Eagles' offense itself can sustain that pace.

I think plenty of opponents are going to have a tough time keeping up with that attack, particularly if Vick can stay on the field. But I worry about the defense, especially considering that a not-himself Griffin brought the Redskins back to within a touchdown by scoring 20 unanswered points down the stretch.

Excellent question. Bizarre. Four safeties is one short of the single-week record. There was no unifying thread to them, but in at least two cases -- when Josh Freeman missed a snap and then kicked the ball out of the end zone, and when Darius Reynaud didn't know he was over the goal line as he fielded the opening kickoff -- opening-game nerves might have contributed.

Follow Judy Battista on Twitter @judybattista. To submit a question for the mailbag, use the hashtag #AskJudy.

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