Football is back. Have we mentioned that yet here at DGWUS? We’re rather excited. The slowest segment of the sports year is over and football is back to bludgeon us into submission. And if last Thursday night’s opening salvo was any indicator, this year could get ugly real fast. Both the Barrister and I have already told you how we feel about this coming football season as a whole, but now it’s time to dig in and focus on our opening opponent, the Baltimore Ravens.
Last year was a rough one for the Ravens. They only won 5 games, they started four different QBs, their running back lost half his season to a gruesome broken arm, Suggs was out, and, well, NO ONE felt sorry for them because Ray Rice. That was only two seasons ago. You’re not off the hook yet for employing that guy. Also, you won a Super Bowl like 3 years ago and missed the playoffs for only the 2nd time since 2008. Zero sympathy from this side of the aisle.
But really not much has changed in the city by Chesapeake Bay. John Harbaugh is still mad about everything. The only receiver you recognize is still Steve Smith. Ray Lewis still gets to judge people’s life choices because he has two Super Bowl rings and he used to dance when he came out of the tunnel. We’re still discussing the “eliteness” of Joe Flacco every. single. year. because God forbid we just say, “He’s the Eli Manning of the DC Metro area” and stop caring about him. (Seriously. He’s 31, he’s been in the league since 2008, and people still treat him like he’s a project they’ve had stashed on the sidelines. He’s just a guy who plays quarterback pretty well. End of debate.) Oh! And all of their success over the last 20 years still should belong to Cleveland. So, you know… Baltimore.
I’m sure the Bills are eager to end all the offseason chatter and get the game started. There has been plenty of speculation this offseason about the personnel and coaching decisions they’ve made. Was it a mistake to bring in Rob Ryan? Can Tyrod Taylor take “the next step™”? Is this the year Sammy Watkins becomes a household name? Will Reggie Bush be a difference maker? How much are we going to miss Mario Williams? Aren’t you getting tired of all these questions?
Let's do this.
1) Sammy Watkins
This really could be the season that Watkins becomes known on a national level. He finished last season with 60 catches for 1,047 yards and 9 touchdowns. Those numbers won’t blow anyone’s mind, but considering E.J. Manuel started two of those games and it was only Tyrod’s first season taking snaps in the NFL, they’re nothing to scoff at. If anything good is going to happen this year with the Buffalo Bills, it starts with Sammy. While the most common knowledge in the NFL is that you need a good quarterback to succeed, a close second these days is that said QB needs someone reliable to throw the ball to. Unless your last name is Newton, Brady, or Rodgers, there better be a guy on the other end of that throw who can fight for it in traffic, leap over defenders, or just flat out sprint past them. Sammy can do all of the above. And considering the Ravens’ secondary is the weakest part of their defense (22nd in scoring last season, dead last in interceptions), the Bills need to make sure he’s targeted early and often.
2) Gilmore & Darby
As I mentioned briefly in my season preview, our cornerbacks are entering the conversation of best pair in the league. This Sunday will be a very intriguing test of their skills. Even with the quarterback roulette the Ravens went through last year, they still attempted the most passes in the league. (Granted that was partially due to having a wet wad of tissues as a running back after Forsett went down.) I doubt they’ll ask Flacco to throw very often, but when he does, it’ll be up to Gilmore & Darby to cause problems since our pass rush figures to be, umm… well… I have no idea.
But again… Gilmore in a contract year…
Ok, so this one is self-serving, but I'm excited to be back. We’ve had a lot of false starts over the years, but I'm in it to win it this year. I'm gonna give it 110% and leave it all out on the field. And it's with that in mind, that I give you the TRIUMPHANT RETURN... of the Legal Limit.
THREE THINGS TO BE TERRIFIED BY:
1) Head Hunting
So um, I don’t want to blow anyone’s mind here (pun intended), but CTE is a thing that’s happening in and around the NFL. The NFL has taken steps to try and solve this terrifying problem. But you wouldn’t know that if you were watching the Kickoff of the 2016-17 season this past Thursday and watched the Denver Broncos try their damnedest to end Cam Newton’s night with one hit.
Of course, we’ve already got our half-assed memo from the league saying, “Yeah, oops, sorry about that.” But you better believe a team like the Ravens got the real memo. Go ahead and tee off on the quarterback. Maybe it’ll get called, but sometimes it won’t. Stay safe, Tyrod.
I’m gonna stay on this subject because I need to address something I just discovered in researching the above subject. Dean Blandino, the man in charge of NFL officiating, has spent more time as a stand-up comic than a ref. Or to put it another way, he’s never been a ref, but he is a former comedian.
…I’m sorry, what? Seriously? This is the guy who’s in charge of making sure the officials do their job correctly? Super. What could go wrong?
Side note: When I did a quick Google News search to find the actual statement, I could not find it anywhere. Not on FOX Sports, USA Today, the New York Times, or ESPN. But I did get a hit on this. Nothing to see here.
3) Solomon Wilcots
This one isn’t terrifying, so much as shitty. He sucks. He never has anything good to say about the Bills. But you’re definitely gonna hear a lot of comments about how much energy guys are playing with and other assorted cliches. Boo this man.
WHY YOU SHOULD HATE THEM:
I have a soft spot in my heart for the city of Baltimore. I went to college a few minutes down the road in Catonsville. And I have friends who have put down roots there. I’ve been an Orioles fan since grade school and my freshman year of college was the Ravens’ first Super Bowl and I was visiting one of my best friends from college the weekend they won their second. I love those people and those memories.
Also, your coach is a giant prick.
Openers are the hardest to speculate on, for obvious reasons. But equally obvious is that I can't write the most optimistic preview and then pick us to lose...
Bills 24, Ravens 17
FOOTBALL IS BACK! I'm gonna hate that fact in a few weeks, but right now? Awesome. Go Bills.