This should have been written Monday after the game, but I actually had stuff to do at work on Monday.
1. I’m pleasantly surprised by the defense. Yes Shane Vereen had a pretty good day running the ball, but after the defense has been on the field for 85+ plays you can probably expect a little fatigue. The Pettine D got more pressure on Brady than I’ve seen a Bills defense get in years. They might have only gotten in for the sack a couple times, but they were making him uncomfortable all game long.
2. The offense looked like an offense that had a rookie QB, rookie HC/new OC. Manuel executed almost all the plays they gave him, and with a little better day from CJ I think they could have been walking off the field with a win. Looking forward to see what we get in Week 2.
3. Leodis McKelvin looked a lot better than usual. Maybe it was the increased pressure on Brady, or the fact that the Pats receiving corps is depleted, but Leodis made a lot more good plays than bad. We’ll have to see how he handles Steve Smith against a Panthers offense that can throw the deep ball pretty well.
4. Fred Jackson still has some gas in the tank. Hopefully his injury shortened 2012 campaign allowed him to rest up and return to his 2011 form. If Freddy can play that well, it will make Manuel/Marrone’s job that much easier.
5. Kiko is a beast. He was constantly around the football and I loved that hit on the goal line stand.
6. Those TD passes from Manuel are some of the best passes I’ve seen in Buffalo since pre-concussion Trentwards.
7. I didn’t really like the offensive play calling. I’m sure they were just spoon feeding Manuel as much as they could, but I would have liked to see more high percentage passes over the middle. I think Stevie has proved that he is about impossible to cover on a quick slant.
That’s it for my Friday musings, looking forward to the game Sunday.
For my obligatory prediction, I’ll go with a 20-14 Bills win. CJ makes up for last week with a beautiful 50+ yd TD run, and Manuel continues to have nice touch on endzone passes with a 20+ yd strike to Woods. Defense looks good for the most part, but a breakdown allows a Cam scramble (Camble?) ending with Cam dragging Justin Rogers across the goal line. The second TD comes on a play that makes the secondary look like the injury depleted unit they are, Steve Smith goes deep and beats Leodis.