Here are seven notes and observations from Week 1 in the AFC East:
There was an “I told you so” attitude with the New York Jets after their 48-28 blowout of the Buffalo Bills Sunday. Not only did the Jets (1-0) prove a lot of skeptics wrong in Week 1, but they did it against a Buffalo (0-1) team that received a lot of good press and offseason hype. It’s only one game, but the big question now is, “How good is New York?” The Jets were picked by many to be a third-place team in the AFC East and to finish around .500 this year. But they look dangerous when playing complementary football. It was a complete performance by the Jets Sunday where the offense fed off the defense, which also fed off special teams. If this is the type of Jets team we will see consistently, then perhaps the Jets are better than most thought. We could have a better indication of where New York stands next week when the Jets travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1).
Also, the Jets’ receiving corps deserves a lot of credit for its production. Santonio Holmes, rookie Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley consistently schooled Buffalo’s young cornerbacks. The Jets had receivers running free regularly on Sunday, even during incompletions. New York quarterback Mark Sanchez did a good job taking care of the football and taking chances deep at the right time. Holmes, Hill and Kerley all had at least four receptions. “It was a great performance by us,” Holmes said. “The game plan went really smooth this week. Guys were paying attention to details. Everything just felt great and we put on a show.”
How did Jets journeyman offensive tackle Austin Howard keep Bills Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams at bay? According to Williams, Howard cheated. “Pass blocking doesn’t consist of using your hands to the face on every play,” Williams said afterwards. Howard, with some help, pitched a shutout against Williams, who was held to just one tackle with zero sacks and one quarterback pressure. Williams made a point to say Howard illegally and consistently used hands to the face as his primary method. According to Williams, he told the replacement officials on several occasions. “You don’t listen or even call it one time out of the 20 that were there?” a frustrated Williams said. “That’s really disheartening for everyone.” Jets head coach Rex Ryan had a different take. “Austin Howard played a tremendous game,” Ryan said. “Maybe he made a name for himself today.”
The look on Bills receiver David Nelson’s face said it all in the locker room. I wouldn’t be shocked if Nelson is done for an extended period. Nelson was carted off in the fourth quarter. It was a tough way to go out for Buffalo’s second-leading receiver, who is the best slot option the team has. This probably means rookie receiver T.J. Graham has to step up in Nelson’s place. Graham was inactive Sunday against the Jets.
Bills head coach Chan Gailey said starting running Fred Jackson’s knee injury wasn’t as serious as Nelson’s. But Jackson didn’t finish the game and his status is in doubt for a big Week 2 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs (0-1). Jets safety LaRon Landry went low on Jackson, whose leg got caught in the turf. Jackson walked on the sideline after the game but didn’t return. Backup C.J. Spiller looks more than ready for the increased responsibility. Spiller rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown in relief against a tough Jets defense.
There may be more good news for the New England Patriots' defense. After pounding young Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker in a season-opening win, Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback John Skelton also was sidelined in Week 1 with a possible high-ankle sprain. That type of injury can keep players out for about a month. But Skelton will most certainly miss next week’s game against the Patriots (1-0) at Gillette Stadium. That paves the way for enigmatic backup Kevin Kolb, who filled in decently on Sunday but has been a bust since signing a big contract with Arizona (1-0).
Finally, you have to wonder how much Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long's knee is bothering him. He was beat on several plays and looked unusually shaky at times Sunday against the Houston Texans. I’m not worried about Long’s play as much as the injuries piling up. Seventy percent of Long is still better than many left tackles. But it seems the past couple of years Long is playing hurt too often. It’s the second season in a row Long is starting the year banged up. It’s a long season and the Dolphins’ best player already is managing injuries. This is a contract year for Long, and Miami (0-1) has to decide whether it can make Long the highest-paid lineman in the league next season when he’s starting to develop the “injury-prone” label.