Tag:Chan Gailey
Posted on: September 27, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 3:36 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 3

Posted by Will Brinson


Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 3 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Fitzpatrick Colts  Knox  Gailey
Judge  McFadden Bills DBs  Bailey  Gailey
Prisco   Romo  Allen  Bailey  Coughlin
Brinson  McFadden  Freeney  Bailey  Gailey
Katzowitz   T. Smith  Freeney  Bailey  Schwartz
Wilson   Welker  Freeney  Bailey  Jackson
Week 3's over and everything in the NFL is clear, apparent and obvious. Like, for instance, that the Lions and Bills are really good. I mean, who didn't see that coming, right? Anyway, it's award time for us.

Offensively speaking, there were plenty of performances that inspired us this week, but Darren McFadden of the Raiders and his 171 yards against the Jets warranted enough consideration to sneak out the award. (And with good reason.)

It was a losing defensive effort that picked up the hardware this week, as Dwight Freeney's efforts inspired enough voters to cast something similar to his name in the ballot and pick up the award. What does it say about the state of defense in the NFL, by the way, that we had three voters cast for either multiple players or an "entity"?

Dan Bailey ran away with the Eye on Special Teams for the second week in a row after his six (six!) field goals against the Redskins gave the Cowboys a victory on Monday night. You can only make the kicks your team gives you and Bailey did just that.

As far as the Eye on Coaching award goes, well, Chan Gailey wins ... again! What kind of world are we living in, huh?

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Ryan Fitzpatrick Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills
He deserves to win every award ever invented. Offensive award, defensive, Nobel, a Pulitzer and throw in an Emmy. It is true the Bills intercepted Tom Brady four times, a rarity, like when all of the planets in the solar system are aligned. It's clearly Fitzpatrick, despite Buffalo's defense prowess, who is driving this team and did so against New England. They'd lost 15 straight games to the Pats. Fitzpatrick's accuracy, skill and guts powered the Bills in what was the best performance -- period -- of the week.
Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden, RB, Raiders
If this guy stays healthy, the Raiders stay at or near the top of the AFC West. He seems to run at a faster speed than everyone else, and last weekend the New York Jets were that everyone. It takes a lot to impress Jets' coach Rex Ryan, and he seemed overwhelmed by Oakland's running game -- with McFadden the first one through the door with 171 yards, two TDs and an average of 9 yards a carry. We always knew he could be special; what we didn't know ... and still don't ... is if he can stay on the field.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tony Romo Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
I know his numbers weren't great, but did he ever tough it out against the Redskins. He played with a broken rib and punctured lung and made some tough throws. He took some shots, but kept on going. Not only that, he was playing with a bunch of backups.  Still doubt this guy?
Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden, RB, Raiders
If there was any question about Run DMC leading the league in rushing, he answered it Sunday, by rolling over the Jets with 171 yards on just 19 carries. He's piling up yards at a terrifyingly efficient clip (6.4 YPC) and deserves to be in the discussion as the best back in the NFL.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Torrey SmithTorrey Smith, WR, Ravens
The Ravens were looking to get off to a fast start vs. the Rams. And behind the play of rookie Smith, who had yet to record a single statistic in a game before Sunday, that’s exactly what they did. Smith caught three touchdowns in the first quarter, and overall, he had five catches for 152 yards to help get the Ravens offense back on track.
Wes Welker Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
It's rarely the case that a Patriots wide receiver has 16 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns and New England still loses. But when Tom Brady throws four interceptions and Chad Ochocinco drops what should've been a touchdown pass, that's exactly what happens. The lesson? No lead is too large for the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills to overcome.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Dwight FreeneyIndianapolis Colts, DST
I'll avoid more Bills slurping and go an unusual route--the Colts.I know. Very weird. Yet in a game which the Colts truly had no chance to win due to the absence of Peyton Manning that Indianapolis defense played brilliantly minus a play or two. They stripped a sloppy Ben Roethlisberger twice and picked him off. They were the only reason Indianapolis was in the game late.
Drayton Florence Buffalo Bills Secondary
The Bills' secondary had three of the team's four interceptions vs. Tom Brady and fueled the team's comeback from a 21-0 hole. Incredible. Nobody spots Brady 21 points and wins. Only Buffalo just did, ending a 15-game losing streak. Drayton Florence's go-ahead TD was the big blow, but defensive backs George Wilson and Leodis McKelvin had crucial interceptions, too. Do you believe in miracles? Brady had four interceptions all of last season; he had four on Sunday.
Prisco Brinson
Jared AllenJared Allen, DE, Vikings
I know his team didn't win, but he was a force all day. He had three sacks and was spent the game in the Lions backfield. He also made some nice plays against the run.
Dwight FreeneyDwight Freeney, DE, Colts
Don't tell Freeney that the Colts only upside to this season is nabbing Stanford's Andrew Luck -- in a game that the Colts weren't supposed to even be in by the fourth quarter, he dominated up front and gave Indy a shot at its first win of the year with two sacks, a forced fumble and total disruption.
Katzowitz Wilson
Dwight Freeney Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
Freeney dominated the Steelers offensive line, recording two sacks, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble. He almost single-handedly kept Indianapolis in the game and forced the Steelers to kick a last-second field goal for the win. Too bad Freeney can't play quarterback.
Dwight Freeney Dwight Freeney & Robert Mathis, DE, Colts
They spent Sunday night meeting on Ben Roethlisberger, combining for three sacks and two fumbles that resulted in 10 Indianapolis points. You could make a case that Freeney and Mathis are just as deserving of offensive honors, too.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Johnny KnoxJohnny Knox, WR, Bears
I know, I know. The spectacular return didn't count because of a phantom hold. A really phantom hold. Such a phantom hold it insults the word phantom. But the fake-out kick return by the Bears was such delicious subterfuge and Knox was king actor selling the fake completely. It was a wonderfully designed play that worked. Did I mention the phantom holding call? One other thing: I think Knox could be one of the top three special teams players in football if he got more opportunities.
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
He did the only scoring in the Cowboys' come-from-behind defeat of Washington Monday night, with a 40-yard field goal to win the game. Bailey wasn't the story of that game; Tony Romo was. Not sure how he gutted his way through another victory, but it wouldn't have been possible if Bailey weren't there to punctuate the drives that Romo began.
Prisco Brinson
Dan BaileyDan Bailey, K, Cowboys
He made six field goals, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter, to tie a rookie record. Well done.
Dan BaileyDan Bailey, K, Cowboys
The last place you want to kick as a rookie is in Dallas, where there's been a revolving door of kickers for a while now. But Bailey doesn't care and he gets my nod again this week as his leg carried the Cowboys to a crucial victory when they clammed up in the red zone.
Katzowitz Wilson
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
With Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo getting very little help from his wide receivers and his offensive line, Bailey provided all of Dallas’ points in its win against the Redskins and set an NFL rookie record with six field goals in a single game. Bailey is now 9 of 10 on the season.
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
For the second time in as many weeks, the Cowboys rookie kicker earns the nod. He was 6 for 6 on field-goal attempts against the Redskins and accounted for all of Dallas' points.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Bill BelichickChan Gailey, Bills
He ended a brutal losing streak to New England but Gailey has done more than that in Buffalo. He's made the Bills relevant and the Bills haven't been relevant since the invention of barbecue wings.Buffalo hasn't had a winning record since 2004 and the last time the Bills made the playoffs was the late 1990s. Gailey isn't a great coach but he's solid. If he can steer the Bills into the playoffs he will have done one of the great coaching jobs of the past decade and making the postseason begins with their win over the Patriots.
Mike Munchak Chan Gailey, Bills
He wins in a photo-finish with the Lions' Jim Schwartz, and for this reason: Somehow, some way, he convinced his players that they weren't dead meat after falling behind by 21 points to Tom Brady and the big, bad New England Patriots. They'd lost 15 straight to these guys, for crying out loud, so there was every reason to quit. But they didn't. Now the question: Are these guys for real? I don't care. I just care that Gailey accomplished what no one in Buffalo has been to accomplish in years.
Prisco Brinson
Tom CoughlinTom Coughlin, Giants
When his team looks to be down, facing a lot of adversity, Coughlin always gets them to respond. They went into Philadelphia as 9-point underdogs and dominated the Eagles. That's why Coughlin is a top-tier coach.
Mike MunchakChan Gailey, Bills
We joked after Week 1 that Gailey deserved the award since it was his only shot of winning. Um, whoops? Gailey's masterful coaching job with the Bills has them undefeated and if the first two weeks weren't convincing enough, a 21-point comeback against the Patriots certainly should be.
Katzowitz Wilson
Jim Schwartz Jim Schwartz, Lions
What can you say about the Lions’ resiliency after falling behind by 20 points at halftime to the Vikings only to force overtime and win? Whatever it is, Schwartz’s coaching -- the adjustments the staff made and the fact it settled down the players -- can't go overlooked.
Hue Jackson Hue Jackson, Raiders
The Raiders first-year coach out-Rex Ryan'd Rex Ryan Sunday, forcing critical turnovers and relying on well-timed gadget plays to outlast the Jets.



Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:04 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Biggest surprises

Wade Phillips has revitalized Houston's defense (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Every year, it’s easy to predict how some teams and players will perform. For instance, this year it was easy to see that the Patriots were going to be awesome, the Colts were going to struggle without Peyton Manning, and some unheralded running back somewhere would surprise everyone with his fantastic performances (Houston’s Ben Tate for example, playing in place of last year’s unheralded/awesome running back Arian Foster).

But, as always, there have been some major surprises through the first two weeks that virtually nobody could see coming. Which is why we follow sports (and the NFL, in particular) in the first place. It’d be boring if we knew everything. But the fact we didn’t know just HOW terrible the Colts would be without Manning is what makes watching pro football a good time.

Therefore, this week, we introduce the Top 10 with a Twist list of the players and teams who have surprised us the most in the first two weeks of the season. No Tom Brady mentions in here. Instead, we give you Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jimmy Clausen's replacement.

10. Redskins: Remember how we all laughed at Rex Grossman when he proclaimed he thought that Washington would win the NFC East? Well, look at which squad is at the top of that division. That would be the Redskins at 2-0, ahead of the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. It’s because Grossman has played well, running back Tim Hightower has had a resurgence and the Redskins rank No. 6 in points allowed (they were No. 21 last season). Hey, maybe, in addition to being a pretty decent quarterback, Grossman is quite the soothsayer. 

9. Dunta Robinson: I have to admit that I was shocked that the NFL fined the Falcons cornerback only $40,000 after his egregious case of head-hunting against Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin last Sunday night. You’ll recall Robinson was fined $50,000 the first time he was caught head-hunting last season (that figure was reduced to $25,000), and though the NFL will say this case was different and less severe, I don’t buy it. We called on the NFL to suspend Robinson, and I didn’t think we’d see that. But I didn’t think we’d see less of a punishment than the first time he went helmet to helmet. Though we live in a time when Roger Goodell’s disciplinary decisions oftentimes don’t make sense, this was a shocker.

8. Bills: It’s only been a few years since the Bills started a season 2-0, but could you tell me the last time Buffalo started the season 2-0 and then finished with a winning record? You’d have to go all the way back to 1996, so obviously, the Bills aren’t going to start celebrating anything quite yet. But the way quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play (which, in itself, is a shocker) and the way running back Fred Jackson continues to pile up yards and the way coach Chan Gailey continues to turn around this team, it’s well … a little surprising. And it’s gotten them into first place in the AFC East (well, they’re tied with the Jets and the Patriots, but the Bills alphabetically are at the top of the division, so there’s that).

Johnson7. Kenny Britt: Yes, we knew Kenny Britt had talent, but we didn’t know he’d explode like this after his rather interesting offseason. So far, he’s recorded 14 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and considering, in his best season before this one, he totaled 42 receptions and 775 yards, this is looking like a breakout year for him. Now if he only can stop getting arrested in the offseason …

6. Chris Johnson: You might find this selection strange, considering I placed Johnson in last week’s list -- the top-10 candidates for comeback player of the year. But after a Week 1 in which he was underused (only nine carries), Johnson ran for 53 yards on 24 chances last week. Which means that for a player whose stated goal is to break the 2,000-yard mark again hasn’t even cracked the 100-yard mark for the entire season. Considering he just signed a $54 million contract, his output has been rather disappointing. Maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. Johnson did, after all, hold out from training camp. But Johnson has been so good in his career, the fact he’s been so underwhelming is a little off-putting.

5. Chiefs: How do you go from winning the AFC West crown to being absolutely horrible the next year? How do you go from being pretty decent last year to being absolutely atrocious now? Some injuries (Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry), some in-fighting between general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley (supposedly) and some brutal defense. Whatever the cause, Kansas City has been outscored 89-10 combined by the Bills and the Lions. Considering the Packers, the Steelers, the Chargers (twice), the Patriots, the Bears and the Jets still are on the schedule, the Chiefs might be in for a colonoscopy of a year.

4. Cam Newton: People were split about how Newton would affect the Panthers this season. Some thought he’d be terrible (I’m guilty, as charged). Some thought he would excite the masses in Charlotte with his on-field play and his off-field charisma. But nobody really knew for sure. Remember, about a month ago, we thought Jimmy Clausen might beat out Newton for the starting job (gosh, we were so naïve back then, eh?). But even those who thought he’d be a solid quarterback have to be taken aback by these numbers: a 62.7 completion percentage, 854 passing yards, three scores (we’ll ignore the four interceptions so far) and the record for most passing yards in a pro debut and most passing yards by a rookie. Sure, the Panthers are 0-2, but Newton has been pretty incredible.

3. Bill Belichick: Who would have guessed the Patriots coach would ever allow anybody to film his life for a documentary? The first episode of A Football Life: Bill Belichick on NFL Network was an interesting look at the best coach in the league and what he’s like in the meeting room, the locker room and, interestingly enough, on a boat in Nantucket. Belichick comes off like a cold-blooded SOB around the media, but in this documentary -- the second part of which will air Thursday, and supposedly, he really shows his emotions in that episode -- you can see the guy is actually human. And considering Belichick would be the 32nd NFL coach who I ever believed would agree to something like this, it’s a pleasant surprise.

2. Faking injuries: Did anybody think this stuff wasn’t happening before? Just because Deon Grant might have been faking an injury to slow down the Rams’ no-huddle, hurry-up offense  last Sunday (Grant, by the way, takes GREAT offense that you’d even think so), that’s not to say this tactic hasn’t been used for many, many years. It has; it’s usually just not so obvious. In fact, you can read this brief article from the NY Times in which the Bengals ask the league to look at players faking injuries. That article, by the way, is from 1989.

1. Wade Phillips: He wasn’t the most-respected head coach (I think the second season of Hard Knocks with the Cowboys gave the impression he was kind of a bumbling Texan who let people walk all over him), but as a defensive coordinator, he’s done a wonderful job in Houston. Since changing Gary Kubiak’s defense to a 3-4 and since the team signed Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph in the secondary, Phillips has helped Houston become the top defense in the league, allowing 10 points and 271 yards per game (both rank No. 1 in the NFL). Who would have thought that after last season when the Texans secondary was burned in just about every game they played? Phillips, though he might never get another head coaching job, is saving somebody else’s job right now. We knew Phillips would be good. We didn’t think he’d be this good, this soon.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Film Room: Bills vs. Patriots preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



We’ll find out this Sunday just how "for real" the Bills are. It’s one thing to face unfamiliar foes from the iffy AFC West. It’s another to face the perennial bully of your own division. Before we forecast the matchup, let’s use the first four points to understand what these 2-0 teams are all about.

1. Patriots passing attack
The last time New England’s juggernaut offense was hitting on this many cylinders was 2007, when the rest of the NFL had no answer for Randy Moss over the top and Wes Welker underneath. New England runs a much different offense now than in those Josh McDaniels days.

Under McDaniels the Patriots in 2008 went 11-5 with Matt Cassel filling in for the injured Tom Brady. The system still worked because of the unique combination of Moss and Welker. If the Patriots were to lose Brady in their current system, they’d plummet to the middle of the AFC East. Virtually everything New England does is predicated on Brady’s unbelievable ability to diagnose a defense and set his feet before throwing.

Most NFL passing offenses are built on the quarterback anticipating where the receiver is going. The Patriots’ offense is essentially built on Brady seeing where the receiver is going before firing. The reason for this is New England’s heavy use of option routes.

The patterns that Patriot receivers, as well as their sensational young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (who will miss this game with a knee injury), run often hinge on what the defense does. It’s up to the receiver to correctly assess the coverage – both presnap and on the fly – and choose his route accordingly. This is the premise of an option route.

Because of this, the Patriots don’t look for size and speed at wide receiver; they look for intelligence and precise route running. That’s why Wes Welker and Deion Branch, two classic role players, are stars here. They’re perfect for this system.

Option routes are designed to specifically exploit the weakness of a coverage. The reason other teams don’t run option routes nearly exclusively is because they take a split second longer to unfold, and other teams don’t have a quarterback who can make accurate throws a split second later in the down. Brady happens to have an unmatched ability to square his body and throw soundly with defenders around him.

It’s incredible – the guy has a quick, picturesque release, and you almost never see him throw off-balance. Even other superstars like Rodgers and Brees can’t quickly square up and fire under duress the way Brady can.


2. Buffalo’s quarterback
Since last season, the Bills have been higher on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick than any other team in football. There are rumors that the front office is looking to quickly sign the 28-year-old Harvard alum to a long-term deal before his market value skyrockets.

But how good is Fitzpatrick, really? Most of his supporters tout his grit. Praising a quarterback’s grit is like praising a girl’s personality. Even if the praise is justified and honest, it still feels backhanded because it implies the absence of more obvious (important?) physical attributes.

While Fitzpatrick is no Chad Pennington, he doesn’t have the world’s strongest arm. He can scramble and buy time with his feet, but he’s no Aaron Rodgers. And he reads a defense OK (he was phenomenal recognizing Oakland’s blitzes last week), but he’s no Peyton Manning. Most concerning is his occasionally erratic accuracy. Every game, poor accuracy costs him a few quality completions. And because he’s such a risk-taker, there’s an increased possibility that his inaccuracy translates to interceptions.

Don’t take this as “Fitzpatrick hating”. We only harp on his negatives because, these days, so many are highlighting his positives.

3. Chan Gailey’s adjustment
Even in the shortened offseason, the Buffalo Bills managed to drastically alter their offensive playbook. Prior to the season, we heard that Chan Gailey (who runs the offense) and Curtis Modkins (who coordinates the offense) would implement more spread formations. A lot of teams talk abot spreading out and being more aggressive, but the Bills have actually done it.

This is somewhat surprising because the Bills, especially after dumping Lee Evans, don’t seem to have the receiving personnel for this. None of their wideouts other than Roscoe Parrish – who is out for the season with an ankle injury – have great speed. And all of them are young.

However, through two games, Buffalo’s spread approach has worked marvelously. Stevie Johnson’s improvement as a route runner (he gets open late in his patterns extremely well) has compensated for his middling speed and made him a veritable No. 1 target. David Nelson, who’s a lanky 6’5” and has a newfound comfort for hauling in passes, has been a matchup nightmare both inside and out.

Donald Jones offers decent quickness off the line of scrimmage, and Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller (who, by the way, are both running with outstanding fluidity, especially on the perimeter) are capable of flanking out, which gives the Bills formation flexibility in their personnel packages.

Tip your cap to the historically power-run oriented Gailey for recognizing the direction that the NFL is going in and, at age 59, adjusting his philosophy accordingly.

4. The defenses: 4-3 or 3-4?
Both teams have run hybrid 3-4-slash-4-3 defense in recent years, not because they have versatile players or schemes but because they’ve been without a quality pass-rusher and have looked for creative (i.e. desperate) ways to manufacture pressure on the quarterback.

As it stands, neither team still has a quality rusher. Knee injuries have robbed Shawne Merriman of his burst and direction-changing ability. Merriman still has decent power, but without the movement prowess, he’s a shell of his former self. Opposite him, Chris Kelsay, though playing faster than usual this season, is not consistently dynamic. In New England, Bill Belichick is hoping elder newcomers like Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter can skim the edges on third down.

Despite feeble pass-rushing resources, both teams’ 3-4/4-3 ambiguity appears to be gone this season. Both made personnel moves that suggest a commitment to one system. The Bills spent the No. 3 overall draft pick on Marcel Dareus, a classic 3-4 end. So far, Dareus has shown intriguing power in shedding blocks, both laterally and in penetration. The Patriots traded for Albert Haynesworth, a classic one-gap tackle (just ask him) and have settled into a 4-3.

So far, Haynesworth has been a monster, but only in sub-packages. He must improve his endurance if he wants to be an everydown player like Vince Wilfork.

5. The Bills’ prayer
Do they have one this Sunday? They won’t be able to get pressure on Brady, so their best bet is to play coverage and hope for a timely turnover or two. That will be tough, though, as No. 1 corner Terrence McGee is out and his replacement, Leodis McKelvin, has struggled in man coverage.

Also, strong safety George Wilson, while stout in the box, is a slow runner with limited coverage skills. The Raiders took advantage of this with screen passes and underneath passing routes last week; the Patriots, with Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead, will have no trouble doing the same.

Thus, it’s on the Bills offense to control the tempo and shorten the game. Buffalo’s front five, coached by Joe D'Alessandris, has been phenomenal through two weeks. Center Eric Wood has the run-blocking movement skills of a Pro Bowler, while left tackle Demetrius Bell (whom yours truly has been very hard on the past few years) has shown good awareness and improved mechanics in pass protection.

A good front line is key to having a sustainable offense. But unless the Bills can work some magic on special teams, they won’t need a sustainable offense to have a chance Sunday…they’ll need a perfect one.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games.


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 3:50 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 2

Posted by Will Brinson


Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 2 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman  Romo Wilfork Cromartie  Belichick
Judge  Brady Cromartie  Hanson  Munchak
Prisco  Romo Cromartie  Kasay  Munchak
Brinson Stafford Wilfork  Bailey  Munchak
Katzowitz Jackson Woodson  Akers  Gailey
Wilson  Britt Wilfork  Bailey  Gailey
Week 2's wrapped up now and we saw one of the most interesting two-week swings in NFL history. That's right -- the public perception of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. He was a choker after Week 1 and now he's suddenly become one of the toughest guys in the NFL. Whether those two are mutually exclusive or not doesn't matter -- Romo wins the Eye on Offense Award for Week 2. It's a well-deserved win considering his willingness to play with a punctured lung (!) may have saved the Cowboys season.

Dan Bailey, the Cowboys rookie kicker, deserves some love too, for punching in a pair of field goals that eventually gave the Cowboys the win over the 49ers. And he got it, as he's the Eye on Special Teams Award winner for Week 2.

Perhaps the flashiest move of Week 2, though, was Vince Wilfork's interception of Philip Rivers shortly before halftime in the Patriots win over the Chargers. Wilfork tipped the ball, made a fantastic grab and nearly found the end zone. It was enough for him to squeak by Antonio Cromartie as our Eye on Defense Award winner this week. (And it also makes for an amazing replay.)

Finally, big ups to the Titans Mike Munchak who won his first game by barnstorming the Ravens -- he also barnstormed his way to the Eye on Coaching award for Week 2. Even if it isn't as amazing as Chan Gailey nearly winning back-to-back weeks with the Bills, it's still quite impressive.

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Tony Romo Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
He showed mental toughness and guts this week two things I didn't think were there in abundance. He played with a punctured lung and broken rib. (Punctured freaking lung?) And perhaps in one moment changed his image from pretty boy stat machine incapable of winning the big one into hardcore player. I don't know if Romo has changed permanently or not. I just know I'll never doubt him again.
Tony RomoTony Romo, QB, Romo
He suffers a cracked rib and a punctured lung, then returns to rally the Cowboys to victory? He shouldn't have been in a game; he should have been in Stanford hospital. This should silence his critics for, oh, maybe one week.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Can I retire this award? Two weeks in a row I had to go with Brady. He threw for 423 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Chargers. I wanted to go somewhere else, but where? He might win this thing every week. We know he's the leader in the MVP race already.
Matthew StaffordMatthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Stafford started slow again on Sunday, throwing a pick against the Chiefs. And then he got his evisceration on, helping Detroit roll to a 48-3 redemption beatdown for Gunther Cunningham. Stafford threw for 294 yards and four touchdown passes ... and it might have been more if Detroit hadn't been up by so many points in the second half.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Vincent JacksonVincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
Last week, I selected Cam Newton after he threw for an obscene amount of yards in his NFL debut. This week, he threw for an even obscener amount of yards. But, once again, the Panthers lost so I turn in the direction of Jackson. Though maybe I should have picked Tom Brady last week, Jackson was fantastic against the Patriots, recording 10 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Maybe New England should have tried doubling him every once in a while.
Aaron Rodgers Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
It was easy to make fun of Britt during the lockout because he spent much of his time going from one legal entanglement to another. But when he's on the field and healthy, he's among the best wide receivers in the league. Against the Ravens Sunday, he caught nine passes for 135 yards and a touchdown as the Titans made easy work of the Ravens, 26-13. Also worth noting: Britt inflicted this damage without much help from Chris Johnson, who rushed for 53 yards on 24 carries.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Vince WilforkVince Wilfork, DL, Patriots
If he's under 400 pounds, I'd be stunned. On a light day, he's 3-fiddy. Minimum. Despite that girth, I've said for years that Wilfork, pound for gigantic pound, is the most underrated athlete in the NFL. His blubber hides the fact that he moves far quicker than you'd ever think. This was the case against San Diego when he lept that big ass into the air, picked off a pass and rumbled down the sideline. Easily the best play of the week.
Antonio Cromartie Antonio Cromartie, DB, Jets
So the Jets don't sign Nnamdi Asomugha and get Cromartie as the booby prize. Some booby prize. He has two interceptions, 149 all-purpose yards on five touches and a reason to make Jets' fans think they'll be OK without Nnamdi.
Prisco Brinson
Antonio CromartieAntonio Cromartie, CB, Jets
He had two picks, one almost for a touchdown, against the Jaguars. Not bad for the "other" corner. Cromartie will get a lot of opportunities to make plays playing opposite Darrelle Revis. He made the most of it against Luke McCown Sunday. Of course, it helped that McCown was horrible.
Vince WilforkVince Wilfork, DL, Patriots
Woodson and Cro had great games, but against inferior teams -- Wilfork was the absolutely difference maker on a day when Albert Haynesworth didn't show up. His interception, which (sadly) didn't end in a touchdown, was one of the most athletic moves I've ever seen from a defensive lineman.
Katzowitz Wilson
Charles Woodson Charles Woodson, CB, Packers
It was deemed Heisman on Heisman crime when Woodson intercepted Cam Newton twice (and also recovered a fumble). More importantly, Woodson helped settle Green Bay’s defense after the Panthers jumped out to a 13-0 lead. Playing without Tramon Williams by his side, Woodson continued to impress in the 14th year of his eventual Hall of Fame career. 
Vince Wilfork Vince Wilfork, DL, Patriots
He got the first interception of his NFL career when, just before halftime, he batted a Philip Rivers pass into the air before hauling it in and rumbling 36 yards. With seconds in the 2nd quarter, Tom Brady complete two quick throws to set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave the Pats a 20-7 lead. The 10-point end-of-half swing sealed San Diego's fate.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Antonio CromartieAntonio Cromartie, CB, Jets
You can tell something great is about to happen with Cromartie. He just looks on the verge of becoming maybe the best return man in football. The Jags may not be the best test since the franchise is hurting right now but on the first play of the game he returned the kickoff 39 yards. That helped the Jets score a first quarter offensive touchdown, the first one in a 16 games.
Jason Hanson Jason Hanson, K, Lions
He played in his 297th game for the Lions, breaking Bruce Matthews' longevity record with one team. What's more, he played all those games with the Lions, a club that makes changes like McDonald's makes burgers.
Prisco Brinson
John KasayJohn Kasay, K, Saints
When the Saints lost Garrett Hartley with an injury, they turned to the 41-year-old Kasay. He is in his 21st season and appeared to have moved on with his life. So what does he do Sunday? He makes three field goals, including one from 53 yards. You have to love the old guys.
Dan BaileyDan Bailey, K, Cowboys
In a week with just one return (Michael Boley's fumble recovery to the house Monday), a kicker needs to win. Dan Bailey, for knocking down the game-tying and game-winning field goals in a crucial victory for Dallas, with the pressure of being a Cowboys kicker AND a rookie, deserves it.
Katzowitz Wilson
David Akers David Akers, K, 49ers
Akers hit three extra points and just one field goal this week. But the field goal was a record-breaker. In the always-tough Candlestick Park Akers nailed a 55-yarder, the longest kick in stadium history. Yeah, San Francisco didn’t win the game, but props to Akers for a record-breaker.
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
The rookie honked a 21-yard field goal on the Cowboys' first drive, but he nailed a 48-yarder as time expired in regulation to tie the game. And he calmly converted a 19-yard chipshot to give Dallas its first win of the season Sunday.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Bill BelichickBill Belichick, Patriots
The best coach of all time again has his Patriots in the mix of the best teams in the NFL. Lots of work needed to fix that defense but he'll get it done. He always does. The best thing about Belichick this week? The show that aired chronicling his daily life. It gave a rare look at a coach few people know well.
Mike Munchak Mike Munchak, Titans
Not only does he score his first pro win; he does it at the expense of a Baltimore team that just obliterated Pittsburgh. I never saw this coming. I bet the Ravens didn't, either.
Prisco Brinson
Mike MunchakMike Munchak, Titans
His team lost the opener, and didn't look very good in doing so, but Munchak made his team bounce back and upset the Ravens in Week 2. The Titans have been a run-centric team, but Munchak let Matt Hasselbeck throw the football to beat the Ravens. It was Munchak's first victory as a head coach.
Mike MunchakMike Munchak, Titans
There's little reason to think the Titans could succeed in a year where change is especially detrimental. Even with RB Chris Johnson stalling out, Munchak got his team prepped enough to pick up his first regular-season win as an NFL head coach by beating down the previously high-flying Ravens.
Katzowitz Wilson
Chan Gailey Chan Gailey, Bills
Just like we all predicted, the Bills are 2-0 after dominating the Chiefs in Week 1 and completing a fantastic comeback victory against the Raiders in Week 2. Gailey, in his second season, continues to turn around a moribund franchise that hasn’t been relevant since Marv Levy. The Bills still probably won’t beat the Patriots and the Jets, but, with Gailey in charge, they’ll certainly have a better chance.
Chan Gailey Chan Gailey, Bills
I was on the Gailey bandwagon and after a come-from-behind win over the Raiders I see no reason to hop off now. Buffalo scored 21 fourth-quarter points to outlast the Raiders by three, and in two weeks, they've scored 79 points (they didn't score that many points until Week 5 of the 2010 season). If the Bills can beat the Patriots this week, I'm running for president of the Chan Gailey fan club.

Posted on: September 18, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 11:15 pm
 

Bills continue to be pleasant surprise

D. Nelson caught the game-winning TD pass in Buffalo's win (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One of the biggest surprises of last week was the Buffalo Bills. They dominated the Chiefs on the road, winning by 34. They got wonderful quarterback play from Ryan Fitzpatrick (if you saw him as Carson Palmer’s backup in Cincinnati, that was downright shocking), and they showcased one of the underrated running backs in the league with Fred Jackson.

But these are, after all, the Bills, and even though they were at home vs. the Raiders, it seemed like a pretty good bet that Buffalo would return to normalcy. And after falling behind 21-3 at halftime, that’s exactly what I thought had happened.

Coach Chan Gailey had made the organization better, but he’s not a miracle worker. It’s not like the Bills’ stay at the top of the AFC East would last more than a week. And then Fitzpatrick went to work. And so did Jackson. And so did Buffalo’s offensive line.

And when Jason Campbell’s last-second Hail Mary attempt was intercepted in the end zone by Da’Norris Searcy, the Bills’ comeback attempt was complete. This week, Fitzpatrick went 28 of 46 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and an interception; Jackson rushed 15 times for 117 yards and two scores; and Buffalo’s stay in the AFC East penthouse will last at least another week.

"That was an amazing gut-check by our football team,” coach Chan Gailey said after the game. “What they did coming out of halftime was amazing. I was really proud of it.

While last week was a laugher the entire way in Kansas City, this week’s performance was even more impressive.

After falling behind by 18, the Bills had five offensive possessions in the second half. They scored five touchdowns. It’s not like the Raiders shriveled up; they kept answering with touchdowns of their own, but eventually, Buffalo got the lead. Only to give it back, which set up the last drive, perhaps the most impressive of the game.

After Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell -- who had a pretty good game in his own right -- hit Denarius Moore for a 50-yard touchdown to give Oakland the 35-31 lead with 3:41 to go, the Bills didn’t panic. They went back to work, and Fitzpatrick started targeting David Nelson.

Already, Fitzpatrick had completed three passes to Nelson -- who recorded 10 catches for 83 yards (both career highs) and a score -- on the final drive, and on third and 10 from the Oakland 15 with 27 seconds to play, Fitzpatrick found him again for a nine-yard gain, setting up the fourth and one with 18 seconds remaining.

Then, Fitzpatrick let Nelson win the game for him. With Nelson lined up on the left side of the line, he took advantage of a busted Oakland coverage (both Raiders defenders shadowed the slot receiver on Nelson’s inside), Nelson worked his way to the post and caught a wide-open 6-yard touchdown to seal the come-from-behind win.

It was, according to Rapid Reporter Mark Ludwiczak, the result of smart play-calling. According to him, the same play was used earlier in the game, but instead of Fitzpatrick throwing the ball to Nelson, he went to tight end Scott Chandler in the slot instead.

This time, of course, Fitzpatrick went the other way.

“I think they were all keying on (Chandler)," Nelson said. "They saw the similar play and I just slipped right underneath."

The Bills have done the same thing, slipping underneath the radar thus far. At 2-0, they’re still a surprise, and if they can actually compete with the likes of the Patriots and the Jets, that would be an even bigger shock. But there’s no question that the Bills have a different attitude this year. And if they can blow out one team and make a nice comeback on another, who’s to say Buffalo can’t continue to surprise all year long?



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Posted on: September 13, 2011 7:16 pm
 

Report: Marcus Easley has heart ailment

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Bills ended receiver Marcus Easley’s season Tuesday by placing him on the Injured Reserve list with what the team is terming an illness. And it sounds serious.

EasleyAccording to a Buffalo News source, Easley has been diagnosed with a heart ailment. We don’t know the exact diagnosis, and we don’t know if his ailment is career threatening.
 
But we do know that a heart issue is an awfully scary circumstance, and obviously, placing him on IR was the only sane and safe thing to do while doctors determine Easley’s next course of action.

Easley left practice two days before Buffalo’s Week 1 win against the Chiefs with an illness, and free agent receiver Ruvell Martin was signed today to take Easley’s roster spot. On Monday, coach Chan Gailey said he’d rather have Easley -- who missed his entire rookie season last year with a knee injury -- disclose his illness rather than the team.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:49 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 1 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Brady Revis Ginn Jackson
Prisco Brady Urlacher Ginn Gailey
Judge Brady Ngata Ginn Harbaugh
Brinson Brady Urlacher Cobb Harbaugh
Katzowitz Newton Haden Ginn Jackson
Wilson Rodgers Suggs Trufant Gailey
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and goodness, was it a week. We saw Cam Newton break the rookie record for passing yards in a debut and, not to be outdone, Tom Brady show up on Monday night and eviscerate the Miami Dolphins for the fifth-highest passing yardage total (512) in NFL history.

Oddly, that was only the second time Brady's been over 400 yards in his career. But it was just good enough to land Brady our inaugural Eye on Offense Award. Though there are compelling arguments made for other players -- Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton -- you'll see his unreal performance on Monday night was just too much for our panel to pass up.

Scoring on defense isn't a must, but it helps too, and despite a hefty effort by Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata in throttling the Ravens, Brian Urlacher's 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown give him the nod on defense.

Meanwhile in the special teams category, Ted Ginn mopped up the competition with his back-to-back returns in less than five minutes. We had a three-way tie for the inaugural Eye on Coaching award and while we almost ruled out the Raiders and Bills because they're the Raiders and Bills for strength of schedule purposes, we give Chan Gailey the sympathy nod here since as our boss puts it "he'll never win again."

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
He throws for over 500 yards. He wears UGG boots. He dances. No better choice. Brady makes the ordinary receiver look like Jerry Rice. The two tight ends for the Patriots both looked like Kellen Winslow.
Tom BradyTom Brady, QB, Patriots
First, I hear Vontae Davis tell us that Miami has the best pair of starting cornerbacks in the business. Then, I watch Brady shred the Dolphins' defense for 517 yards and four touchdowns in a lopsided game that, frankly, could've been worse. Yeah, I know, Miami's cornerbacks were suffering from the heat all night and ran in and out of the lineup. But I wouldn't blame them if they didn't want to be anywhere near that field -- not when Brady's torching an entire unit. Marvelous, marvelous performance, but typical Tom Terrific. Nobody does it better.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
I watched his 517-yard passing performance with my own two eyes. It was sensational. His ability to find open receivers and put the ball into tight spots was amazing. He hit 10 different receivers. Brady also threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, changing the play at the line of scrimmage. I've seen him do some amazing things, but this was by far the best.
Tom BradyTom Brady, QB, Patriots
Of all the record-breaking performances we saw this weekend, it wasn't close as to which was the most impressive -- Brady disemboweled the Dolphins defense on Monday night and while it's one thing to watch a quarterback rack up yardage by chunking the ball deep, it's an entirely different thing to watch someone conduct their offense the way Brady did Monday. Two 100-yard receivers and four guys with six catches or more? Yikes.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Cam NewtonCam Newton, QB, Panthers
Obviously, he didn't accumulate as many big numbers in Week 1 as Tom Brady, and in fact, the Panthers didn't even win their game. But Newton's pro debut was better than impressive. It was outstanding. And sort of surprising. With his 422-yard performance, he shattered Peyton Manning's record for a pro debut (302 passing yards), and he destroyed Otto Graham's 346-yard total in 1950 when Graham was making his NFL debut (he previously had played in another pro league). So, obviously, Newton is much better than Manning and Graham. Ultimately, we don't know if Newton will be Carolina's savior, but we do know this: he was damn fun to watch in his first game.
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
It's not a particularly sexy pick after what we saw Aaron Rodgers do the the league's best defenses during the postseason in January and February, but after a four-month lockout in which the Packers admitted that they weren't holding player-organized workouts (and Rodgers was pimping auto insurance), he looked every bit the Super Bowl MVP when he stepped on the field against the Saints last Thursday. If Tom Brady was prolific, Rodgers was clinical. He completed 77 percent of his attempts for 312 yards, including three touchdowns. He also knows how to rock a 'stache, something Brady could never pull off.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Darrelle RevisDarrelle Revis, Jets
He gets crucial interceptions. Sure, Tony Romo gift-wrapped it but after giving up some big plays early to Dez Bryant it was Revis who clamped down on Bryant in the second half and shut down the Cowboys' biggest weapon. By the second half Revis looked like the best defensive player in the NFL. That's because he is.
Haloti Ngata Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens
People ask how the Ravens could have unraveled mighty, mighty Pittsburgh, and I tell them to rewind the videotape to the Steelers' first two series of the second half. On the first, Ngata blows up running back Rashard Mendenhall, forces a fumble and recovers it. On the second, he deflects a pass at the line of scrimmage that Ray Lewis intercepts. The guy's a load. Pittsburgh committed seven turnovers, and Ngata was a primary reason why. The Steelers had no answer for him.
Prisco Brinson
Brian UrlacherBrian Urlacher, Bears
He was all over the field for the Bears and scored a touchdown on a fumble return. But his best play was an interception of Matt Ryan. He was locked in man coverage with the back and ran stride-for-stride with him and made a great pick of the football. Urlacher was overrated at times in his career. But now that he understands the game better, he's much improved over the guy who used to get mostly with amazing physical skills.
Brian UrlacherBrian Urlacher, Bears
Who would have thought the 33-year-old Urlacher could look so young at the start of his 12th season? He made an interception that was the definition of acrobatic. His recovery of a Julius Peppers-forced fumble ended up in the end zone. He also piled up 10 total tackles and continued to show that he's the motor that drives the very vanilla-painted car that is Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense.
Katzowitz Wilson
Joe Haden Joe Haden, Browns
His performance was lost in the shuffle because the entire Browns defense was caught sleeping when the Bengals quick-snapped in the fourth quarter and Bruce Gradkowski threw the easiest 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to A.J. Green you'll ever see. But Haden clearly frustrated 2011 No. 4 pick Green for much of the day. With that kind of performance, Haden will draw the opposing team's top receiver every week, and in Week 1 at least, it looks like he can handle it.
Terrell Suggs Terrell Suggs, Ravens
This could go to any number of Ravens defenders but Tuggs racked up three sacks and two forced fumbles and made the Steelers offensive line look like, well, the Steelers offensive line. Suggs has now sacked Ben Roethlisberger 15.5 times in his career, more than anybody else, The only thing he didn't do Sunday was score a two-point conversion.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Ted GinnTed Ginn, WR, 49ers
That noise you heard on Sunday was Dolphins fans puking. Ginn has been a lousy wide receiver but as a kick returner has long showed promise. This might be the year he becomes a star as a returner.
Ted Ginn Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers
He returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He returned a punt for a touchdown. Yet Seattle kept giving him chances.Someone please explain the logic of giving Ginn four opportunities to return kickoffs. I'm serious. The Seahawks had no touchbacks, and someone tell them the NFL just moved kickoffs to the 35. It's OK to drill the back of the end zone. Instead, the Seahawks kept feeding Ginn, daring him to beat them, and, well, he did. When San Francisco acquired him it was as a return specialist first and pass receiver second. Now I can see why.
Prisco Brinson
Ted GinnTed Ginn, WR, 49ers
Ginn Jr. is playing for a new contract. He's off to a good start. He returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the 49ers victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Just when it appeared the Seahawks were making a game of it, he ripped of the 102-yard the kickoff return and then followed it up with a 55-yard punt return for a score. Wow.
Randall CobbRandall Cobb, WR, Packers
Cobb might face a fate worse than being struck down by lightning if he takes any more kicks out from the back of the end zone, but for one night, he was the difference maker for the Packers as they topped the Saints in part because of his 108-yard touchdown return. It might not count for this purpose that he scored on a pass, but it doesn't hurt either.
Katzowitz Wilson
Ted Ginn Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers
My favorite part of Ginn's performance for the 49ers on Sunday -- you know, he scored on a 102-yard kickoff return and a 55-yard punt return in the span of less than a minute -- was the Twitter reaction immediately following, proclaiming that Ginn had fulfilled his entire two-year productivity quota in a single afternoon. And even if Ginn doesn't do much for the 49ers for the rest of the season, we honor his standout performance in helping lead San Francisco past the Seahawks on Sunday. 
Isaiah Trufant Isaiah Trufant, DB, Jets
A former Arena League and UFL player, Trufant was signed to the Jets practice squad last season and elevated to the 53-man roster just before the Cowboys game. Sunday night, he was in the right place at the right time, scooping up a Mat McBriar blocked punt (courtesy of Joe McKnight) and scoring a touchdown with five minutes in the game. The play tied the score, 24-24, and moments later, Tony Romo's ill-advised interception pretty much sealed Dallas' fate.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Hue JacksonHue Jackson, Raiders
He got the Raiders their first season-opening win in almost a decade. When the Raiders win, the terrorists lose. I'm wondering if Jackson is getting more autonomy than other recent Raiders coaches because the team's game plan looked, well, sensible.
Cliff Lee John  Harbaugh, Ravens
Talk about issues. He had an offensive line that hadn't played together. He had inexperienced wide receivers. He had cornerbacks who seemed vulnerable. And he had a quarterback who never, ever, ever beat Ben Roethlisberger. So he draws defending AFC champion Pittsburgh in the season opener and doens't just win; he wins in a 35-7 laugher. Unbelievable. The pre-game edge had to belong to the more experienced club, the team that made fewer off-season changes, and that team was Pittsburgh. Logic told us that Baltimore was an unsettled club that would only improve as the season progressed. But tell me: How do you improve on this?
Prisco Brinson
Chan GaileyChan Gailey, Bills
The Bills passed on taking a quarterback in the first round of the April draft because Gailey believed in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now we know why. He threw four touchdown passes as the Bills blew out the Chiefs 41-7. The defense also did a nice job shutting down the Chiefs offense. Gailey has this good-old-boy demeanor about him, but the man knows offensive football. He has his team ready to play against the Chiefs and pulled off what many considered to be an upset.
John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh, Ravens
The most impressive thing about the Ravens manhandling the Steelers was the game plan they had from the start -- and that falls on Harbaugh. They attacked on offense in an unexpected, high-powered manner and the defense just swarmed. Hell, they even had a built-in fake extra point play ready in case they needed it ... or in case they wanted to embarrass their arch-rivals on national television.
Katzowitz Wilson
Cliff Lee Hue Jackson, Raiders
In making his head coaching debut, Jackson had his team ready to play vs. the Broncos and coached a smart game, using much of the same gameplan Oakland formulated to beat Denver last season, to lead Oakland to the 23-20 road win. It was the first season-opening win for the Raiders in eight years, and at this rate with Jackson in command, Oakland might run the entire AFC West table again. 
Chan Gailey Chan Gailey, Bills
If anyone's due some recognition, it's Gailey. After suffering through a four-win season a year ago, the Bills showed up ready to play against the Chiefs in Week 1. Kansas City did not and they got rolled 41-7. Whether the Bills can keep this going remains to be seen, but for now we  salute you, Chan.



Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:26 am
 

Marcell Dareus' injury not thought to be serious

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

This couldn’t have been welcome words for Bills fans to ingest this morning if they picked up a copy of the Buffalo News and read that No. 3 pick Marcell Dareus injured his ankle during Wednesday’s practice and was seen on crutches in the locker room afterward.

DareusBills coach Chan Gailey, speaking before the open locker room session, didn’t make a comment on Dareus, and considering Dareus had played well thus far in the preseason -- he had accumulated two sacks in limited playing time -- his injury was a scary proposition for a rebuilding team.

But not to worry, says WIVB, which reports that Dareus was kicked in the calf during the practice (not the ankle) and that the injury isn’t considered serious.

Dareus had originally hurt his ankle during an Aug. 4 night practice, and a few days later, Gailey said, “"When he gets healthy, I think he can really be something.”

I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out if that’s true.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com