As much as everyone was rightly impressed with 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin's performance against the Packers, I was equally impressed by the chemistry that Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis appear to have developed. Last year after Kaepernick took over as starting quarterback, the two never seemed to have a feel for each other. That was a major issue because you have to find a way to maximize the talent of a guy like Davis, a freak at the tight end position. The pair hooked up for two touchdowns with Davis ending up just shy of 100 receiving yards for the day.
As much as defensive coordinators will feel the need to match up with Boldin after he hit the Packers for over 200 yards receiving, I have a hunch they are even more worried about how they will match up with Davis if he and Kaepernick continue with their newfound rapport.
Not without a fight
Rex Ryan is not going down without a fight. At this point, I believe the caricature of the Jets' head coach has people forgetting that he has always been a pretty darn good defensive mind. Against the Buccaneers, he even dusted off the old school 46 zone popularized in the '80s by his father. The Jets may fail in their attempt to make the playoffs this year and Ryan may be fired at the end of the season, but I think it's fair to say that he is going to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at opposing quarterbacks in an effort to prevent all that from happening.
Be afraid, be very afraid!
While Ndamukong Suh is the most talked about defensive tackle on the Lions, it was Nick Fairley who ended the day with 1.5 sacks against the Vikings. Keep in mind, the fact that Fairley always lines up on the right side means he is usually the one getting most of the double teams, especially against the running game. If Fairley finally lives up to his full potential this year and stays healthy, the Lions might have a huge decision to make soon about which guy to keep. It might sound preposterous today, but I don't think it will by the time the season is over.
Blount saves the day
The saying "football is a game of inches" was on full display Sunday in the Bills-Patriots game. With 4:42 left in the third quarter and the Patriots facing a 4th-and-goal inches away from the goal line, Tom Brady fumbled the snap. Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso picked up the ball and rumbled 13 yards before being tackled by tailback Legarrette Blount. Doesn't seem like much of a big play on the stat sheet, other than preventing the Bills from scoring; however, Blount's tackle likely prevented a 14 point swing.
You see, the Patriots had an extra lineman, two tight ends and a fullback to go along with Blount at their skill positions for the fourth down play. Had Blount not alertly changed and waited to see if anyone tried to return the fumble, there wouldn't have been anybody on the field for the Patriots fast enough to track down Alonso.
And maybe that still doesn't mean much to you until you remember the Patriots won the game 23-21 and the Bills didn't score for the rest of the game.
Watch out for Bears
Maybe we should have the Chicago Bears in our Super Bowl conversations. It is no secret that the problem in Chicago the last few years had been the offense. The Bears defense was pretty stout every year, but the offense had one excuse after another for why it wasn't holding up its end of the bargain. I was skeptical about the Marc Trestman hire and didn't think Lovie Smith deserved to be fired. But if the first game is any indication, every NFC team had better sit up and take notice.
The Bears defense was still flying around the field. Cornerback Peanut Tillman was still making big plays and creating turnovers. This time, the Bears offense also showed up. Before I watched the film of the game I thought maybe we had all just overhyped the Bengals. Nope. Turns out we might have all underhyped the Bears.
Keep an eye on Canty
The Baltimore Ravens will probably continue to have some issues on the back end of their defense. After all, when you give up seven touchdowns through the air to one team, other teams will probably decide throwing the ball against you is a good idea. However, teams better have an answer for how to deal with the Ravens' front seven. Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs are in fact monsters off the edge. The guy who may end up being the under the radar star on the defensive line is Chris Canty. The former Giant has always had a ton of talent but also quite a few injuries. Last Thursday, we were reminded what a healthy Canty can do.
Opposing offensive coordinators had better keep that in mind when coming up with their game plans or they better make sure their backup quarterback is ready. I'm just saying.
Fluker is no fluke
DJ Fluker is a goon. I mean that in the best way possible. Fluker played like a bully in college at offensive tackle, and I wondered if that would carry over as a pro. I was especially interested to see how he would play against an all world talent like J.J. Watt in the first game of the season.
Fluker wasn't always matched up against Watt, and he didn't always win when they were matched up, but there wasn't an ounce of fear in him that I could see. Moreover, the bully was still there. He didn't just try to block guys, he tried to maul them. To me, he seems like the old school right tackles with the salty disposition and an edge. I think he will make the Chargers happy they drafted him for years to come.
I still don't believe in the Saints' defense. I just think the Falcons were too conservative to take a bunch of shots down the field against New Orleans. Scared money don't make no money, as the saying goes.