So, what a difference a week makes. Last week, we felt awful at this point in time, today, most of us are very happy. I am somewhere in between the 2 games. To me, this team is like that hot girl with one or 2 really bad parts to her. She can be nice and sweet, and then blow her lid and curse someone out in a way that would make a sailor blush.
So, what do I really take from the game yesterday? Is EJ the magic man who engineered that drive, or is he the same QB that missed guys so badly that Fitzpatrick winced? I admit that I am worried about how slowly he seems to start. But, for a rookie, after what he experienced in the third quarter, I came out very impressed by his poise and was even more impressed after reading the post game stuff. As many of you know, Coach Marrone lost someone very close to him. EJ was so composed after those back to back turnovers that he asked his coach if he was okay. Wait, what? This rookie actually composed himself, with his dad watching him play, ON HIS BIRTHDAY, just had 2 series that would have crushed most QBs and almost every rookie, and he's composed enough to make sure his coach is okay? I think I have a man crush right now...
While EJ made many mistakes, I love the intangibles he brings. He's a tough kid. He's tough mentally and physically. He is the anthesis of Cam Newton. As many of you know, I think so little of Cam that I wouldn't give you a 7th round pick for him. He's a selfish entitled guy who can't handle adversity. After the game, Cam partially threw his coach under the bus. Right or wrong, you don't do that. I can't imagine EJ ever doing that.
Here are my game grades:
Passing game: This is tough b/c when he needed to be perfect, he was for the most part. A rookie drove 80 yards down the field with 90 seconds left with no time outs. Lets not forget that Carolina has a good defense. I'd give him a B-. Lots wrong, lots right, more right then just average. The OL did a great job on both pass and run blocking.
Running game: This is much easier A. I really respected the way both CJ and FredEx controlled their front 7. They have a very very solid front 7 with up to 6 guys that could be or are all stars. They really did a great job.
Passing defense A- the 40 yarder was upsetting to me. But, that alone doesn't drop it to an A-, the truth is that Ginn was open all day, it was just Cam's inaccuracy that stopped those passes from being complete (but, yeah Cam, it was totally the coaches fault for his one call at the end of the game to go for the FG instead of going for the first down). Look in the mirror dude. Look in the mirror. The DL did a very good job keeping him in check and Super Mario looked like I was playing him on Madden on the rookie level.
Run defense A- The panthers have a great trio of backs/QBs that can run. They can take over a game all by themselves. My problem with Cam notwithstanding, he CAN do it, but, rarely ever DOES do it. But, they kept the running game in check for most of the game. However, why at the end of the game, when they were running the time out, did it look to me like they were playing the pass and not the misdirection run game? I saw a guy on Cam so quickly and there went the running back with the ball. That is a bit sloppy.
Kicking/Return was a B. Again, we didn't get one kickoff out of the end zone. Why does it seem that everyone has a kicker that can kick field goals AND kick the ball so deep that no one can return it, and we never seem to? I can't wait until our real kicker can kick again. The miss was bad, but, the 55 yarder makes up for it. He was spot on for the rest of the game and the punting game was solid, the return game was pretty solid, Ginn is pretty good and can break it.
Coaching: this is another tough grade. He is responsible for their sloppy play. I'd give it a B. The reason for that is I thought they outplayed the Panthers for most of the game, it was the sloppy penalties and turnovers and bad plays that kept Carolina in the game. IF they do that against the better teams, they will get blown out. Some penalties are okay, some are not. Those 2 boneheaded penalties aren't. Summers should be cut to show a message. Dumb plays are not okay. I'd give a strict warning to Aaron Williams to not do that again or you will sit him. These dumb plays need to stop or they won't be able to win on a consistent basis.
Intangibles A+ These guys like each other. They play for each other. That is a powerful motivator when they hold each other accountable. I hope that translates to a reduction in penalties soon. This team can be good. There is talent on it. Woods and Kiko are players. I love EJ's mentality. I think he has a real chance to be a great QB b/c he is built physically and mentally right. He hangs in there to take a hit to make a play instead of bailing, even if he does check down a bit too much, but, I chalk that up to him being a rookie. They love their coach and he loves them. I still think they will win between 6-10 games.
In closing, I believe we got the right QB for the future. I don't believe that you can draft any QB and make it work. I know some on here believe that, but, look at the evidence, 4 years later and where are Tenn, Jacksonville, Minn, Carolina, and the rest who rushed to take QBs too early? I read that the QBs taken in rounds 2 and 3 are doing better (from those years) then the QBs taken in round 1. The QB is the most important part of the team, but, you can't take a lemon and make lemonade, all that happens is your lemons go sour and you have to go shopping 4 years later and hope you have a lemon that will transform into an apple and keep the QB doctors away from your team. I have seen and read enough of EJ to be excited to give him the next 3 years of my life and hope he becomes our QB for the next decade.
Go Bills and SUTECK OUT!!