Monday, September 19, 2011
Seven-step drop: Here come the Bills
By James Walker
Welcome to the "Seven-step drop." Each week we will look back at the games in the AFC East with seven notes and observations.
David Nelson caught 10 passes, including the game-winning TD, in Sunday's win over Oakland.
Opponents can't get too caught up in the Buffalo Bills' spread offense, because they're also running the football extremely well. Starting running back Fred Jackson is leading the NFL in rushing through the first two weeks. He has 229 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest thing is Jackson is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The Bills pass a lot. But Jackson also is maximizing his opportunities.
Keep an eye on Bills receiver David Nelson. He was the catalyst behind the Bills' second-half rally over the Oakland Raiders. Nelson has good size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and hands to play in the slot. He provides a big target in traffic for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nelson caught 31 passes last year but had a breakout game against Oakland. He caught 10 passes for 83 yards, including the game-winning touchdown on Buffalo's final drive.
The New York Jets did something in Sunday's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars that we haven't seen in a while. The Jets got off to a fast start in the first quarter. Call it the "Jason Hill factor." New York broke a 16-game streak by scoring a first-quarter touchdown. The Jets never trailed in the 32-3 route. Hill caught the Jets' attention with his trash talking, and New York was fired up for this game.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie had arguably his best all-around performance in a Jets uniform. Cromartie recorded two interceptions, two pass defenses, three tackles and a pair of kickoff returns totaling 85 yards. It was a nice bounce-back effort for Cromartie. He was shaky in Week 1 against Dallas. New York's No. 2 corner will get tested all season opposite Darrelle Revis. The Jets will be hard to beat if Cromartie consistently plays at this level.
I don't agree with the way the Miami Dolphins (0-2) are using tailback Reggie Bush. The Dolphins are not getting Bush in the open field. Instead, they appear steadfast on running him between the tackles, which is not his strength. Miami also is being too cautious with Bush not to wear him down. He got six carries and one reception in Sunday's loss against Houston. Here is some free advice for the Dolphins: Give Bush more chances in the open field and also let him return kicks. He's the most dynamic player the team has. Let Reggie be Reggie.
Miami's defense does not defend tight ends well. That's on the linebackers and safeties. Through the first two weeks, opposing tight ends have caught 16 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns against the Dolphins. Texans tight end Owen Daniels didn't get many opportunities but was efficient. He caught three passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking of tight ends, New England's pair of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez is playing at an extremely high level. Without a doubt, quarterback Tom Brady helps. But both tight ends are making few mental errors and are consistently getting open. The big asset is their ability to score in the red zone. Gronkowski and Hernandez, who are big targets, each had red zone touchdowns Sunday against the Chargers.