By Shane A. Leketa
A majority of football fans waking up on Monday morning this week after watching their favorite teams are feeling a wide spectrum of emotions and a lot of them are more than likely ill.
After week one, there will be fans and media of teams like the New England Patriots or the Green Bay Packers that will be jumping off the bandwagon preaching about the huge holes their teams have and the gaps in their lineups.
After week one there will also be the fans and media that will over-rate their favorite teams because they are 1-0. The hope and optimism will give them a glimpse of the promise land of a Super Bowl berth.
As the season progresses, these predictions and opinions change with time. The NFL football season is a long and arduous one and everyone needs to let it play out before we crown a team like the New York Jets after a 1-0 start.
With that all being said, let's look at the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.
In the first game, although the score might not have shown it, the defense was a much better cohesive unit for early in the season unlike in past years where they needed to grow as the season progressed.
The defense gave the offensive unit some great chances after causing turnovers, including a fumble recovery by Rob Ninkovich (his 10th among active players in the NFL) and Kyle Arrington causing two fumbles setting up both touchdowns for the Patriots.
The defensive unit also held the Bills to just three first downs and a total of 73 yards on their final five possessions on the field. This can be a testament to the youth of Buffalo and their new head coach but also to the Patriots defense standing strong.
The return of a lot of defensive players on this team from last year has Vince Wilfork looking forward to the season and how it will play out. "So we're very excited about it as a defense," said Wilfork this week. "To just have guys out there that played together for 16 to 19 games or whatever it was. We're looking for a pretty good season. Today was a good one, but definitely everything wasn't perfect. We had some mistakes, but we'll correct them and move forward and hopefully we'll be ready by Thursday."
The addition of Tommy Kelly was also a positive in this game where he helped to solidify the defensive line but at the same time never really getting any true pressure on rookie Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel.
If you flip it to the offensive side of the ball, you will see positives in two of the veterans in Julian Edelman (2TD's, 7 catches for 79 yards) and Danny Amendola (10 catches for 104 yards) who Brady found to be his go-to guys in the game.
The offense was not pretty but it was effective as stated by Julian Edelman. "It's the National Football League," he said. "It's hard to win any game here. Everyone is pretty good and an ugly win is better than a pretty loss. We definitely have to go back, watch the film and correct. Move on immediately because we have a short week."
Another positive that came from this game is to see the versatility and speed of running back Shane Vereen after Stevan Ridley was benched due to his second fumble in the game for the entire second half of the game. Vereen ran the ball 14 times for 101 yards and caught the ball seven times for a total of 58 yards. This was a really special day for the young upstart.
Ridley had a chance to talk about his woes after the game. "For me, I never get too high and I never get too low. This was the first game of the 2013 season, all the talk before this was what happened last year. It goes to show you that things change day to day. Coming in after two turnovers I can't blame anybody but myself. Like I said just man up and come back to work."
Then there's Tom Brady and his ability to never give up, to always know that if you have Brady at the helm, you ALWAYS have a chance in the game completing the final drive at the end of the game giving Stephen Gostkowski the opportunity to kick the eventual winning field goal with :05 left in the game.
As for opportunities in the game, the youth of the rest of the receiving corps was definitely evident with Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce nor Zach Sudfeld not touching the ball once and Kenbrell Thompkins only actually grabbing 4 out of the 14 attempts thrown to him.
Next, as stated before, Ridley coughed the ball up twice in this game (once ruled not a fumble) and was benched the rest of the game. What does this mean for this running corps? With Vereen now on injured reserve, LeGarrette Blount looked slow and Bolden was out with injury. It's going to be interesting to see.
But again, this is the first game of the season and there are many more games to go. If fans and media begin to predict what happens based on one small snapshot from Week One, then they will be in for more heartache and possible ER room visits. As Tom Brady stated after the game, "We have a lot of work to do."
Have patience folks. Remember the Patriots lead the league in youth (14 rookies). There are going to be some growing pains that all fans will have to be good with but overall, the future looks bright for the boys from Foxboro.
Shane Leketa is a long time Patriots fan who bleeds red white and blue. Leketa runs the site @MyPatsSpace
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BarkBoardYesterday at 4:17 PM