Bills' Fitzpatrick is proving he's worth big dough in Buffalo

by | CBSSports.com
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Thoughts from Sundays Games

1.) I liked some of the things I saw from the N.Y. Giants. It looked like they protected their CB's by playing more zone defense. Aaron Ross's interception against Mike Kafka was in zone defense, and they also did a good job of getting Brandon Jacobs isolated on a LB for a TD pass. Mentally tough football teams like the Giants are able to overcome injuries -- like they did Sunday at the WR position -- because their coach has a 'no excuses mentality.' This is why I'm not surprised by the fact that Victor Cruz scored two TD's.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has amassed 841 passing yards and nine TD's through the first three games of 2011. (Getty Images)  
Ryan Fitzpatrick has amassed 841 passing yards and nine TD's through the first three games of 2011. (Getty Images)  
2.) When I visited Buffalo this summer, I thought they would be the surprise team in the NFL. One of the areas that impressed me about them was their receiver corps. When they traded Lee Evans to Baltimore, the Bills felt they had some good young receivers. And after watching tape on them in the preseason, I could see what they were talking about. Players like Donald Jones, David Nelson -- both college free agents -- and waiver pick up Scott Chandler all impressed me on tape. We are seeing now what Buddy Nix and Chan Gaily saw in them when they traded Evans.

3.) New England's lack of pass rush and problems in coverage have now shown up against Miami and Buffalo. I don't see the pass rush improving without blitzing, and we will have to see about the coverage.

4.) Nice to see Torrey Smith of Baltimore have a 3 TD day. The player seemed to struggle early -- which is understandable -- as he learned a pro pass-route tree. In college he ran a very limited route tree. In fact, I never saw him run an out cut. What you could see today was the talent to run all the routes.

5.) Blaine Gabbert didn't win the game today against Carolina, but you saw his physical talent to make plays with both his feet and his arm. He needs to get more play makers at wide receiver if he's going to thrive.

6.) I do not want to make this an officiating column, but it seems to me they're missing a lot of illegal contact and defensive pass inference calls.

7.) How do you not continue to be impressed with Detroit? Certainly Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are off to Pro Bowl years. Great mental win to come back the way Detroit did, and the four players Martin Mayhew signed right before camp have really made a difference for the Lions: Stephen Tulloch, Justin Durant at LB and Chris Houston and Eric Wright at CB.

8.) Biggest disappointment of the day was Houston's defense. Drew Brees is hard to sack because he gets rid of the ball so quick, but in their first match of the year against a good passing attack, they failed.

9.) Matt Hassebeck had another strong game and they did it without Kenny Britt and any production from Chris Johnson. Tennessee can pass protect, and Hasselbeck is smart in reading defenses. Even though Johnson didn't have very much production running the ball, they did get him involved in the passing game which is something they wanted to do this year.

10.) At 0-3, you have the discussion of playing Christian Ponder at QB instead of Donovan McNabb if you're Minnesota, but I don't think you can do it now unless you are convinced Donovan McNabb is the problem ... and I'm not.

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Duanta Robinson

He will have a hearing to appeal his fine of $40,000 on Tuesday, and I wouldn't be surprised to see his fine reduced, and here's why. If a player gets flagged, that doesn't mean it's a penalty. Officials during a game have to make split-second decisions while being guided by principles as well as the rules. In the case of helmet to helmet contact on a defenseless player, the officials are told to 'err on the side of caution, ' which means if you're not sure the player is defenseless then a flag must be thrown. Concerning Robinson's hit on Maclin, it's not clear cut that Maclin was defenseless, and that's why you have to be sure of it before you take a person's money. If the rule was similar to the college rule -- if there's intent to strike the head then it should be penalized -- then I would agree with the fine.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bills have a dilemma with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the last year of his contract. There have not been any meaningful negotiations up to this point, and it's hard to negotiate during the season because of the ups and downs you go through. Fitzpatrick falls in the group of QB's like Matt Schaub, Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassell who played sparingly in the early part of their careers before becoming eligible for a new contract. I believe he is better than Kolb who signed for $11 million per year and over $20 million guaranteed. But I also believe he has found a coach and a system that works for him. In short, pay the man.

Chris Johnson

I talked to him last week and he told me he was fine physically but needed to get on the same page as his offensive line. In other words, his timing was off. When I watched him on tape he looked hesitant at times compared to Javon Ringer when they ran the same plays. Other times he didn't stick to the right hole, but instead tried to bounce it outside to make a big play. He had another disappointing day today against a defense that people thought would yield big numbers. Watching it on the television, it is impossible to tell why Johnson played so poorly, but I'm anxious to look at the tapes this week and study why he failed to produce bigger numbers.

Kevin Williams and Will Smith

Both of these players came back on to the field today after serving two game suspensions resulting from the Star Caps case in which they violated league policies regarding unapproved substances in the body. For both players, the unapproved substance was a weight loss drug that was discovered in their bloodstream in 2009. If the players had taken there suspension of four games at that time, they would have lost about $250,000. By appealing there cases and being suspended and fined two years later, each player will lose about $1.2 million.

Follow Charlie Casserly on Twitter @CasserlyCBS

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