It’s been a painful five months for football fans. Ever since February, we’ve resorted to hoping for the future, relying on offseason signings and draft picks to get our football fix. We’ve even latched onto scandals that would make Lindsay Lohan blush to get some sort of news about our favorite sport. Some of us have resorted to watching bits and pieces of CFL and arena football games. Not me, of course, a friend of mine… up by Niagara Falls. I met him through that girl that I dated for a whole summer when I was thirteen years old. Stop smirking!
Anyway, we made it to August, which means real NFL training camps, real NFL preseason games and, ultimately, real football only a month away. This means it’s time to do some real asinine analysis of NFL teams that you hate to love and love to hate to prepare ourselves for the rest of the season.
Welcome to the 2015 preseason. Our first targets: the teams of the AFC East.
Record: 9-7. No, that is not a typo. The Buffalo Bills had a winning record last season. It wasn’t a winning record that helped them make the playoffs, but it was that close! “Pinching my thumb and index finger if you could see me” close. If the Bills had won one more game, they would have had a mathematical chance of making it into the playoffs as a wildcard team and Kyle Orton’s mustache might still be in the NFL today.
The Good: How good is the Bills defense? Last year, the Bills ranked fourth in the NFL in total yards and points against, third in passing yards allowed and third in turnovers… without Kiko Alonso! Now they have Rex Ryan as their head coach, whose sole goal in the NFL seems to be to have his defense score more than his offense all season on the way to a Super Bowl victory. Hey, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens can’t be the only team to do it.
The Bad: Even Bills general manager Doug Whaley knows that the quarterback situation is getting out of hand, stating that the Bills are “almost in quarterback purgatory” since their record was too good to pick up a future franchise quarterback and the free agent market consists of Jason Campbell, Matt Flynn and Kyle Orton. That’s right, Mr. Mustache shaved. So the Bills decided to let Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel fight for the right to hand the ball off in Greg Roman’s spread option scheme. Whoever wins will have to wear a Colin Kaepernick mask and one of those tattoo-sleeved shirts for the whole season.
Almost in purgatory? You got that right, Doug. The Bills are in quarterback hell.
The Ugly: The season hasn’t started yet, and the Bills are already in the news for the wrong reasons. Earlier this summer, LeSean McCoy placed an open invite to a party for “females only / 21+ a must” and said it wasn’t “a weird orgy thing” after canceling the event. Then Coach Ryan made it weird by saying, “I did not get an invite. I’m a little disappointed about that. But maybe next year.”
Record: 8-8. Again. In the past 10 seasons, the Miami Dolphins have had a winning record twice, and one of those seasons was 2008, when Tom Brady was knocked out in the first game. This is the sort of team that usually falls into a win: rotating running backs with a decent defense and a redheaded quarterback who looks like he’s in the midst of a shot put event. The Dolphins are the Cincinnati Bengals on vacation in Florida without A.J. Green.
The Good: The Dolphins won the Suh-weepstakes (I’m sorry…) this offseason, which means that Cameron Wake isn’t going to be the only player rushing the passer in the front four. It also means that Tom Brady will probably get slapped with more than a four-game suspension. Brady will be literally slapped by Ndamukong Suh in one of Miami’s games against the Patriots, since they first meet in week 8. There’s nowhere to hide, Tom.
The Bad: What does a team do when their quarterback’s follow-through motion is usually him just going backwards as he’s planted into the grass? If you’re the Miami Dolphins, you wait until round four in the draft to take an offensive lineman. But don’t worry, ‘Fins fans. This Suh will toughen up this line in training camp. Either pain will make the line stronger, or Suh will put Tannehill on the IR before the season starts.
The Ugly: This…
We have signed free agent quarterback Josh Freeman.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) July 28, 2015
I don’t know if Dolphins fans are optimistic, clueless or just in on some cruel joke, but you don’t favorite and retweet your team’s post about signing Josh Freeman. It’s even weirder because the tweet says, “We have signed free agent quarterback Josh Freeman.” They had just cut him four days earlier. They should have tweeted, “We have re-signed practice squad quarterback Josh Freeman.” That would have made more sense.
New England Patriots
Record: 12-4. Divisional winner. Super Bowl champion. Sketchy game tactics to get a leg up on the competition resulting in fines and, this time, suspensions. Just an average season for the New England Patriots.
The Good: Even if Tom Brady’s suspension is fully upheld through all of the appeals, it’s likely that the Patriots can win at least two out of the four games against the Steelers, Jaguars, Bills and Cowboys with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, who really just has to get close enough to the end zone for a touchdown throw in the vicinity of Rob Gronkowski. Then Tom Brady returns, leading to another divisional title and probably a bye week in the playoffs for the Patriots, with maybe another Super Bowl win to really stick it to the rest of the league.
The Bad: Fans are going to have a hard time watching the Patriots’ away games live in the stands. Every row will be packed with signs and Fatheads referencing something about balls. But if the only bad thing about an upcoming season is dealing with rival fans, you’re doing okay.
The Ugly: In an email from 2014 that was publicized thanks to those deflated balls, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. wrote that he thinks he has seven or eight more years left of football, whereas Peyton Manning may only have two. It’s not that Tom Brady wants to play football until he is 46 years old. It’s just that Bill Belichick won’t let him retire until Bill himself has had enough, because there is no way Belichick can continue thePatriots legacy without Tom Terrific. Once Tom leaves, the Patriots will probably morph into the Cleveland Browns of the 90s and end up leaving New England for London.
New York Jets
Record: 4-12. It was the record the New York Jets deserved, but not the one they needed last season. The Jets needed a one-win season so that they were primed to take quarterback Marcus Mariota with their first pick and send the position’s status into DEFCON 1. It’s getting to the point that I could probably jog onto the practice field and be considered the potential starter. EVERYONE HAS A SHOT, GUYS!
The Good: Even if Sheldon Richardson is suspended a bajillion games, this defense could be nicknamed “The House of Pain” by the end of this season. Drafting Leonard Williams looks even better with Richardson’s off-the-field issues, Muhammad Wilkerson is on the other end of the front line, the linebacker corp is downright filthy, and Buster Skrine joins the reunion of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in the secondary. It’s a defense that Rex Ryan would drool over, and it’s controlled by Todd Bowles, who helped the Arizona Cardinals overcome their own quarterback issues to get into the playoffs, which is very different from making the playoffs despite quarterback issues.
The Bad: How many times do I have to say “quarterback issues” in one analysis? Clearly, not enough times. The position will go to either third-year-and-running project quarterback Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard or rookie Bryce Petty. I expect Todd Bowles to pick a name out of a hat each Tuesday to see who is going to lob the rock down the field to Brandon Marshall before he bursts into tears. The running back situation is just as bad. Instead of one situational back, the Jets have four in Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and two generations of Rams cast-offs in Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson.
The Ugly: Will somebody please revise this Ryan Fitzpatrick song before the Jets try to trade for Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller just to make it relevant. I wouldn’t put it past Woody Johnson to do something like this to add a little fire to the boredom that seems to fill a football team led by Todd Bowles.
I vow to you, this will not happen again. My team will continue to push forward without me to start the season. — Sheldon Richardson (@Godforshort) July 2, 2015
Well, it looks like Woody Johnson can relax on the back-page activities thanks to Sheldon Richardson. J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!