The first week of the regular season exists somewhere between fantasy and reality.
Half the league is undefeated. The other half finds itself picking up the pieces.
Early wins and loses stir up an unfortunate amount of panic and hubris on the part of, well, everyone -- but fear not, we're here to pour some cold water on a few of this week's burning topics:
1. The New York Jets 'explosive' offense/the Buffalo Bills 'shattered' defense:Mark Sanchez was at his best in Sunday's win over Buffalo. The Jets starter put up big numbers and we love what he did with a subpar group of receivers, but we need to see Sanchez do this consistently. New York's success doesn't fall on him alone, but beating the Pittsburgh Steelers would do wonders for this young passer's psyche. As for Buffalo's amped-up defense, it was a shambles. If that pricey line can't get to the passer, nothing about this team's offseason makes sense. But it was one game, so let's see how they handle the agitated Kansas City Chiefs.
2. Ryan Tannehill and rookie quarterbacks: Bad teams rush quarterbacks into action, and that's what we're seeing in Miami and Cleveland. Scouts urged teams to consider this a red-shirt season for Tannehill, but his early grasp of the offense and a non-belief in Matt Moore have pushed him onto the field. Tannehill and Brandon Weeden are struggling in talent-poor attacks, but maybe our expectations are the problem. Dr. Z tells a story in his classic work, "The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football", about a young Ron Jaworski hearing it week after week from the Philly boo-birds at Veterans Stadium at the start of his career. Coach Dick Vermeil yanked him close and shouted in his ear: "You're my quarterback!" Vermeil's patience paid off, but that also was 30 years ago. Those days are over.
3. Big Blue's defensive line: Last year at this time the New York Giants were coming off a fear-inducing loss to the Washington Redskins. Last week's Dallas debacle was a tone-setting defeat, but it also served to wipe away any lingering sense of entitlement. Tom Coughlin's boys are back in the grinder, fighting for life. Talk to me in December. I refuse to give up on an Eli Manning-led team that boasts Jason Pierre-Paul across the way.