Even though I spent 1400+ words lamenting the sport of football, I was pleased to see it back yesterday. I don’t go to church, so NFL Sunday afternoons are the sermons I observe. Being stuck in the NYC market, I have to watch whatever Giants or Jets game is on, meaning I’m stuck with either A) Seeing how many packages Tim Tebow can get involved in while $20 million worth of Mark Sanchez wrestles with a defensive back on the outside, and B) Watching the Giants play horribly until Week 16.
Thankfully, my Packers were on national television against the 49ers, which was by far the toughest matchup for any Week 1 team. The Packers defense got ran off the field physically and mentally, but still made enough stops to make this a game the Packers should’ve won at home. Their defense was good enough for them to finish 15-1 last year because they led the league in interceptions, but against a 49er team that doesn’t turn the ball over on offense, they were never going to win that side of the ball. Unfortunately, 1 yard runs from Cedric Benson (Aaron Rodgers ended the game as the Packer’s leading rusher), and an extremely prepared 49er defense took away the Packer’s big play-action strikes. Rodgers averaged 6.9 yards per completion yesterday, well-below his 8.2 YPC average, and way lower than the 9.25 mark he threw up during his 2011 MVP campaign. I’m chocking this one up to a bad matchup. I’d rather have the Packers play this way Week 1 rather than see them play this same game Week 14.
The Year of the Quarterback continued on too—with every week, it seems like this’ll become the Decade of the Quarterback. 9 quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards, Michael Vick had 56 attempts, Robert Griffin III averaged 12 YPC, and Matthew Stafford is now on pace to throw for 5,500 yards. Looks like the
Roger Goodell NFL to me.
Every division except for the NFC West has stellar quarterback play in some regard, but the AFC East may have the most interesting story lines. Even though every sports media outlet is determined to talk Tim Tebow into the Jets starting job, I’m not so sure it’ll happen. If 2011 Mark Sanchez goes out there week-to-week, Tebow will be starting by Week 8, but I think Sanchez is now in “Fuck You” mode this season. Beyond the 3 touchdowns and 70% completion percentage against an expensively assembled Bills defense, Sanchez is definitely playing with a major chip on his shoulder. After the Jets flirted with Peyton Manning, they handed Sanchez a contract extension because his feelings were hurt. Even after that, they still had the nerve to trade for Tim Tebow. Contract extension aside, Sanchez was probably the most disrespected incumbent starter this offseason. Shouldn’t that hurt his pride? Doesn’t he not want to be second-guessed, and not want to be reduced to Tebow’s helmet-boy? Not only as a quarterback, but as a competitor, that should light a fire under his ass. That Bills performance wasn’t just a win to relieve a media-fabricated quarterback controversy, but a genuine personal statement game, even if it didn’t feel like it. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill seem eager to anoint Sanchez as the best AFC East quarterback not named Tom Brady, but I think Sanchez will earn that spot, and not gain it by default.
Here’s to Tom Brady’s bloody nose and the subsequent 3-minute segment on SportsCenter (why did Adam Schefter have to come in and play plastic surgeon with Chris McKendry?), and here’s to Sanchez vanquishing his Tebow demons.
Or maybe this is just an overreaction. But hey, it’s only Week 1.
Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49