Some Week 1 Thoughts

I thought I'd take a dump to get some of my thoughts on the Preseason, and now Week 1 out, as I've been meaning to do so for a while now.  That was a fantastic win over the Chiefs with numerous quality performances on both sides of the ball. This team still has a loooooong way to go, but for the first time in a long while they look like a competent bunch even if they are missing some huge pieces.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick played a great game in KC, making all the throws he needed to make and moving around the pocket to avoid pressure.  He needs to build off this performance and not just sink back in the mud like he tends to do after a big performance. As I said elsewhere, it would be huge if Fitz can keep his yards per attempt around 7.5 for the season, it'll be a major success. If he fades back to his career numbers of well under 7, the passing offense is going to be a major disappointment. 

- Piggybacking the prior comment, the passing game will need to start making some big plays down the field at some point.  With no major speed threat on the roster, it's going to be imperative to take advantage of matchups. Fitz did a great job with the underneath and intermediate stuff against the Chiefs, which obviously would need to continue, but to open that up further, he needs to hit some downfield passes.  Take advantage of Parrish on a LB or single coverage on Stevie on the outside.  He did it for that fantastic TD to Stevie, and those are the matchups that need to be exploited.

- Fred Jackson is awesome. There is such a huge gap between him and CJ Spiller right now in all facets of the game. The team needs to continue with a heavy workload for Jackson, while sprinkling Spiller in occasionally and in the passing game. I'd love to see more screen passes to both backs going forward.

- It's a shame Marcus Easley just can't get on the field one way or the other. I'm really excited to see what he can offer this offense, but he has to get on the field first. Hope whatever the issue is now is minor and he can return to the field in a few weeks. I hope the team doesn't shut him down for the year as a result, either, unless it's worse than we've though at this point.  His preseason game against the Jaguars really flashed his potential; hopefully he gets the chance to show his stuff at some point soon.

- David Nelson is what he is. A quality possession guy who makes the catches underneath for first downs and uses his body to get open.  That's the role he should remain in.  For those questioning Donald Jones as the "#2" over Nelson, both will play a lot and get plenty of opportunities. Nelson is just much better out of the slot and over the middle where he can work on slower LB's or smaller DB's.

- The OL will have it's moments this year, and will have it's struggles (doy). What this unit needs to do is nail down some consistency while avoiding the crushing mistakes. Last year, numerous holding penalties or false starts negated nice gains or derailed drives. Can't have that this year. Nobody is expecting this group to be perfect, but they can avoid the mental mistakes and let their play decide how successful they'll be.

- I think the combo of Bell and Pears can look very good at times this season, but I still don't believe they'll be quite good enough, Bell especially. Pears has looked good all summer and in week 1, so if he can continue with solid technique, he should at least be competent for this team. I think he'll struggle with speed rushers when presented with that challenge, however, as he's not the fleetest of foot. He needs to use those hands and long arms though. 

- Does Kraig Urbik look too stiff and slow to anybody else?  In a power run game, that's fine, but when the Bills spread out a defense or run on the edge, that's going to be a glaring weakness. I think Chad Rinehart gets a shot at some point.

- Scott Chandler looks like a keeper. I think I'm in love. He won't be a big play threat from the position, but if one game is an indication, he will be a solid all-around factor for this offense. He's an above average blocker in the run game and has a great combination of size and decent athleticism as a pass catcher. He was getting open all game against KC and it sure seemed like plays were designed to get him the ball. That's a size mismatch every time, and if Chandler can get even remotely open, he'll provide Fitz a nice target. He seems to have great hands too. I hope he remains a big part of the passing game moving forward. This year's Marcedes Lewis, maybe? Hopefully?

- It's too bad Terrence McGee can't stay healthy.  He's such a solid all-around CB when he's out there, but he just can't remain on the field. It's a shame, and will really hurt this defense moving forward. It's time for Leodis McKelvin to finally sink or swim.  This is the opportunity he needs and needs to take advantage of.  It's time for him to become a consistent player and avoid the mental mistakes that have plagued his career. I have a feeling Jacoby Ford is going to run a few seams against him this weekend. Hope he's ready. 

- Drayton Florence remains our best CB, physical and routinely in the right spot. As always, I'm sure he'll be prone to the odd mistake, but I'm very comfortable with him in the lineup.

- Is Aaron Williams ready? He better be. He didn't look out of place against KC, so that's a nice start, but I have a feeling he's going to get picked on a lot, especially in two weeks. Hope you're ready kid.

- Justin Rogers? Uh oh.

- So far, Nick Barnett looks like a fantastic addition.  He's a better all-around LB than Posluszny and if he can stay healthy, he's going to have a big year for this defense. I think the run defense will be improved this year with Barnett at the heart of it.  Marcell Dareus is also going to be a major presence in that area.  His size and quickness make him a tough block, and should help free up Kyle Williams next to him. We'll see.

- It'd be nice if Shawne Merriman could make it through a game without getting dinged in some way, wouldn't it?  When he's on the field, he's a presence, but I just don't think he'll be remotely reliable this year. He wasn't much of a factor against the Chiefs, but he did garner enough attention from them. At the very least, this defense needs that.

- More Alex Carrington, less Chris Kelsay, m'kay?

- Jairus Byrd was very, very good in the opener. He continues to improve his tackling and has become a very good player in run support. That was an area that he was very good in last year, that nobody wants to talk about. With a better front 7 in front of him this year, he will be even better in my opinion. I don't think he'll ever be a playmaker in the passing game again though. I thought he was vastly overrated during his rookie year in that aspect.  I do hope he can generate some turnovers, though. Our secondary as a whole isn't going to be very good at creating the turnovers this year....

- Because the pass rush continues to stink.  There was very little pressure against Cassel, except on the occasional blitz. I guess a fully healthy Merriman helps that, but that's not to be counted on.  If there's anything that really hurts this team, week in and week out, this season, it's going to be the pass rush.  Some day I'll get my wish, a big time pass rusher on this team.

- Brian Moorman kicked really well Sunday. Hopefully, when the weather turns he won't take the same nosedive he's taken the past few years. Avoiding the shanks is going to be a major part of his resurgence as a top punter.  He had too many of those last year.

- To me, this team still has 5 or 6 win talent.  There are still too many holes and too few playmakers.  Chan Gailey seems to be doing a great job getting the most of his players, especially offensively.  If they can block enough to give Fitzpatrick time, the passing offense could be pretty solid.  For this team to really surprise and push for a playoff spot, they need to do a few major things well....Win the turnover battle, generate some pressure on the QB, limit the critical mistakes on offense.  Those are areas the team struggled in last year. Overcoming those obstacles, and a tough schedule, won't be easy, but would be a big part of why this team could theoretically push for a winning record.

At the very least, this should be the most exciting season in some time. The offense looks capable of scoring some points, probably more in bunches than consistently, but enough to win some games. The run defense looks to be much improved, but will it be improved enough to make a difference?  Sunday against Oakland's power running game will be the ultimate challenge. This team needs to win those types of games if they are going to take the next (first?) step towards relevance and becoming a contender.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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