The NFL season is upon us, and the local teams have all been very active. The New England Patriots, who were disappointed by their AFC Championship game loss to the Denver Broncos last season, decided to beef up their defense in the offseason in order to change their fate this year. However, it would appear that one of their major additions has not necessarily paid off.
Superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis, coming off a disappointing season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, did not play as well as many had hoped in week one. He got beaten by Miami Dolphins speedster Mike Wallace on a few passes, and didn’t look as unbeatable as he did a few seasons ago when he earned the nickname “Revis Island.”
Additionally, superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski played as well as you can expect a man to play when dealing with nagging injuries, though that isn’t very much. He did score a touchdown, but looked sluggish on some of his routes and just not as good as one of the premier tight ends in the game should.
Finally, franchise quarterback Tom Brady didn’t look like himself as he missed some open targets in the second half, though the Dolphins’ excellent defense may have contributed by rushing him.
All of this ended up in a Dolphins victory by a score of 33-20, which many were not expecting. The fact that the Patriots were not able to waltz in and claim the AFC East, which they have perennially been able to do, shows that they need to toughen up or risk falling far behind in a traditionally weak division.
The New York Jets took care of business last Sunday, defeating the Oakland Raiders by a score of 19-14. This game was a great success for the vaunted Jets defense, who ate up rookie quarterback Derek Carr and limited his effectiveness from the word “go.” One can’t exactly fault the rookie, however, as the Raiders don’t exactly have the best offensive weapons in the NFL.
Geno Smith performed reasonably well, completing 23 of 28 passes, including a touchdown and a pick, but also made some mental errors that he will certainly need to correct if he hopes to remain an NFL starter. In classic Jets fashion, Smith fumbled the ball when he was run into by his own player, but was able to overcome this error and get his team the win.
However, the Jets’ running game was impressive, with Chris Ivory breaking free for a 71-yard touchdown run that showed off his impressive speed. Running back and free agent acquisition Chris Johnson also showed some flashes, though his main contribution came from a receiving touchdown he reeled in during the final minute of the first half. If the Jets can make their running game this good every week, they can become a force to be reckoned with.
Eric Decker, the Jets’ most highly touted offseason acquisition, performed pretty well, catching five passes for 74 yards. However, if the Jets want to become a Super Bowl contender, they will need Decker to play above his skill level, and become a true prized receiver.
The New York Giants tried to make their defense more formidable this offseason, in the hopes of keeping the NFL’s potent offenses in check. However, just like clockwork, their defense was exposed by the Detroit Lions on Monday night, with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooking up for a pair of touchdowns on the Lions’ first two drives. Though the defense improved a little as the game went on, it remains a major problem which must be corrected if any progress is to be made.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Giants weren’t much better. Eli Manning continued to struggle, tossing a pair of picks in the third quarter, and never looked comfortable in the offense. Making matters more difficult was the fact that his receivers had trouble getting open, which didn’t give him many options to work with as the game wore on. If something is not done, this is an offense that will struggle all year long. All in all, it wasn’t a very confidence-inspiring performance by the Giants, and could spell the start of a long season for fans.