Thanks to the fine folks at DirecTV, who offer their "game cuts" in which you can watch an entire NFL game in 23 minutes, I was able to further examine the Bills-Jaguars game from Sunday, among nearly every other NFL game (I know what you're thinking—wow, what a life?).
First and foremost, David Garrard didn't play that bad. Garrard was accurate for much of the game, and he didn't throw into coverage that much. The interception near the end of the first half shouldn't have been thrown, but to be fair the ball was tipped. Where Garrard looked bad was on the Jaguars second-to-last possession with roughly 4 minutes remaining, as he threw two erratic passes (one of which could've been caught by Northcutt), and was sacked. Quarterbacks are judged upon what they do at crunch time and right now, Garrard's not getting the job done in crunch time and he looks like the richest game manager in NFL history.
As for the offensive line, they did exponentially better than the season opener in Tennessee. They protected well for the most part and began to open some holes for the running game early in the second half. Kudos to Milford Brown, who played a whale of a game, and Tony Pashos, who you never hear about, which is a very good thing. Pashos still has a gay little dog (not that there's anything wrong with that as I roll my eyes).
The Jaguars receivers were hit and miss on Sunday. Matt Jones had another good game and although he was hammered by the crowd on his one-handed attempt at a pass in the end zone, it was because Jones' other arm was locked up by Terrence McGee. It should have clearly been pass interference. Dennis Northcutt caught three passes and dropped one big one, right on par with his career. Reggie Williams made a few tough catches in traffic and was mugged over the middle where there was a no-call.
The defensive line played very well. Tony McDaniel and Rob Meier controlled the middle of the field, and anyone who believes that the Jaguars miss Marcus Stroud is sadly mistaken. Through a couple games, I honestly believe McDaniel and Meier are playing at a higher level than John Henderson. Quentin Groves had his first sack and forced fumble on a speed rush against Pro Bowler Jason Peters. Rookie Derrick Harvey seems to be thinking too much on the field instead of reacting, but he has big natural talent.
The linebacker position has been the most disappointing for me. Mike Peterson looks old, plain and simple. Peterson still talks on every play like he always used to, but that's the end of his contribution. Peterson looks terribly slow, and he is missing tons of tackles. Daryl Smith is everyone's underrated star, but Smith has been average at best, missing tackles. This was supposed to be the year Smith was to fight for a Pro Bowl spot, and he barely looks like a starter. Maybe Smith feels more comfortable playing in the middle? Justin Durant has been great, but he is nursing an injured groin, and Clint Ingram is fast, but he misses plenty of tackles and overruns plays.
After playing almost flawlessly at strong safety in the Jaguars season opener, Brian Williams found himself out of position several times against Buffalo. Williams looked tentative and not aggressive, and I stand by my take that Williams should be moved back to corner, and Florence moved to nickel. Rashean Mathis is no longer one of the league's elite corners, as he gets beat repeatedly every week. His struggles would be better documented if it wasn't for Drayton Florence on the other side of the field, who may have been the most overpriced free agent of last year's class. Florence didn't get any pass interference penalties Sunday, because he wasn't close enough to any receivers to be flagged. Florence and Gerald Sensabaugh teamed up to blow quite possibly the biggest coverage of the game on Buffalo wide receiver Lee Evans who was wide open on a big 37-yard fourth quarter gain which set up the game-winning touchdown against Mathis-Williams.
Special teams was very good for almost the entire game, and the only gaff came when Adam Podlesh hit a low, line drive with around three minutes remaining. That punt resulted in a big Roscoe Parrish return which effectively put the game away.
The Jaguars simply didn't do enough to win Sunday's game (you're welcome, from Captain Obvious). Buffalo tackled well, they converted on third downs, and they made big plays when they needed to. Although there were a few bad calls, officiating really wasn't a factor. The Bills seemed to be a more fundamental, better football team with a better quarterback and better playmakers.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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