Following a surprise Week 1 victory against the Bears, the Bills prepare for AFC East rival Miami. But the team may also have to deal with the news involving new ownership.
According to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, who has followed the stories involving prospective owners for Buffalo, the team could be sold by the end of the week. Graham also reported that bids were placed on Monday by Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, real estate developer Donald Trump, and the Toronto group led by rock star Jon Bon Jovi:
Two knowledgeable sources said there was a belief the winning bid will be higher than the $1 billion the Cleveland Browns sold for in 2012 and could break the NFL record of $1.1 billion set by the Miami Dolphins in 2009.
The Pegulas are considered front-runners by many close to the process and industry analysts because of their net worth, cash on hand and Western New York ties. They are favored by fans and New York politicians.
With sports headlines dominated by video of running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in a casino elevator, Kim Pegula would boost the NFL’s image as a minority, female owner who intends to make executive decisions.
But there was a quiet optimism around Bon Jovi’s group today that they could pull of an upset and get the Bills, one source told The News, a departure from reports they were dead bidders walking. Bon Jovi’s partners include Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Rogers Communications heir Edward Rogers III.
The Pegulas were confident, too.
Though some outlets have reported that former Sabres owner Tom Golisano is out of the bidding, other sources insist he remains interested.
The News could not confirm whether Golisano tendered a bid by today’s deadline, but Golisano seemingly has played by his own rules throughout the Bills sales process.
Later on Monday night, league news and reaction continued to pour in.
A record-setting bid for the Bills may seem a lot for a team that hasn’t made the postseason since the 1999 season, but franchises that have had issues winning consistently have sold for record marks in the NBA in recent years. The Milwaukee Bucks sold for $550 million in April, while the Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion this summer.
The Pegulas seem to be the popular cohice with their community ties, while there may be shock and dissapointment in the Buffalo area with any purchase by Bon Jovi’s group due to documents indicating his group would wnat to move the team to Toronto (via the Buffalo News).
If the sell is complete before Sunday, expect a potentially unique home opener in terms of fan reacion and honor of the team’s original owner, the departed Ralph Wilson.
For the second straight time facing New England at Sun Life Stadium, Miami used a second half-rally to defeat the dominant team in the AFC East.
On Monday, Pro Player Insiders Miami Dolphins writer Antwan Staley (a great follow on Twitter) had five takeaways from the opening day victory. Here were a pair of them:
Dolphins finally ran a balanced offense
Prior to Sunday, I can’t remember the last time the Dolphins ran the ball equally as effectively as they threw the ball. Knowshon Moreno rushed for 134 yards and had a huge fourth-quarter touchdown. Lamar Miller also had 11 carries for 59 yards.
Because the Dolphins ran the ball so well, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was able to take what the defense gave him during the second half. If the Dolphins are able to use this recipe going forward, there isn’t any reason why this team can’t contend for a playoff spot.
After the game, head coach Joe Philbin spoke about the game Moreno had on the ground.
“He broke some tackles,” said Philbin. “We’ve talked about that a lot, on how his job as a running back is not only get your shoulders square and get what’s there, but get a little extra. Make a little move, be elusive, run a good pad level and get some extra yards after contact, and it appears he did a good job of that.”
Miami’s defensive line is one of the best in the NFL
Throughout the game, the Dolphins defensive line was consistently in quarterback Tom Brady’s face. Cameron Wake had two sacks, two quarterback hits and forced a fumble. Olivier Vernon, who had 11.5 sacks a season ago recorded a sack on Sunday and also pressured Brady more than a few times.
Some may say that the Patriots trading Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a difference in Sunday’s outcome, but that wasn’t the case. Miami has one of the deepest defensive lines in the NFL. With Wake, Vernon, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks and Earl Mitchell, they will be putting pressure on a number of quarterbacks this season.
Wake knew the Dolphins had to get pressure on Brady without blitzing the veteran quarterback.
“Well, I mean, we knew, as our game plan, we had to come in there and get to him, said Wake.” “That’s part of when you play the Patriots. We know he’s kind of running the ship over there and whatever you can do to kind of throw him off his game, you got to get it done, and you got to get it done with the front four. So, we look to our right and our left, and say ‘hey look, we got to get the job done,’ and the guys came out and they played hard.”
Moreno and Miller both had some offseason issues with health, but if they can continue their Week 1 effectiveness throughout the season, Ryan Tannehill will not be forced to necessarily play at a Pro Bowl level. The third-year quarterback only had 178 yards, but threw two touchdowns to only one interception, and found seven different receivers, which was and will continue to be a key in 2014.
Moreno ran for over 200 yards in a game against New England last season, and his great game on Sunday may indicate he is the type of back that can find holes in a run defense that Miami has had issues figuring out in the past. A combination of Moreno’s power and Miller’s quickness could be what is needed to jump start the running game.
In his third year as defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle appears to have talented players that fit his scheme, especially on the front line. The outside pass rush of Wake and Vernon, players capable of rushing at both the end and linebacker spots, are as good a duo as any in the league, while Odrick and Starks can either play inside defending the run and rushing the passer, or play as ends in a three-down lineman alignment.
The defensive line will need to continue to perform at a high level, as linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is now on injured reserve, joinging Koa Misi and Phillip Wheeler as Dolphin backers dealing with injuries (via the Dolphins’ website).
New York Jets
The Jets’ opening day victory against the Oakland Raiders was a huge win. ESPN’s Rich Cimini wrote about five things that we learned about New York after their week 1 performance. Here are three of them:
1. They know how to win ugly. Rex Ryan was right, this should’ve been a “rat kill.” Consider: Until the Oakland Raiders‘ final four plays, the Jets gave away more yardage via penalty (105) than on defense (94) — and yet it was a 59-minute struggle. This was reminiscent of last season’s Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills, when they sacked EJ Manueleight times but let the Bills hang around because of 20 penalties. You can get away with it against the Bills and Raiders, but … well, you know the deal.
2. Chris Ivory is faster than people realize. He’s known as a bruising power back, but he clearly has an extra gear in the open field. His 71-yard touchdown run was tied for the second-longest in team history. We also learned he has some “hot dog” in him, as he pointed to the crowd with a celebratory gesture 35 yards from the end zone! The Jets signed Chris Johnson to be their home-run back, but the first homer came from their between-the-tackles guy. Oh, the irony.
3. Geno Smith still has a lot to learn. Yeah, you have to like his improved accuracy (23-for-28), especially on short passes, but Rookie Geno resurfaced a few times. There was an interception, two fumbles (one recovered) and an inexcusable sack, which took the offense out of field-goal range. The entire offense was a mess in the red zone. Inside the 21, they snapped the ball 12 times and netted minus-30 yards — including two sacks, two penalties on Willie Colon and a turnover. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
With the Green Bay Packers game in Lambeau, made more difficult with a 10 day break and the NFC contenders likely steaming after a resounding opening night loss to the Seahawks, bad penalties aren’t something the Jets can get away with in Week 2. One area to watch out for in the penalty area would be in the secondary, as Aaron Rodgers will certainly be willing to take some deep chances with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb against a young and thin cornerback group that still is awaiting word on Dee Milliner’s status.
At running back, the power and speed combination of Ivory and Johnson will be depended on heavily to take the load off of second-year quarterback Geno Smith. The early reviews were great, as Ivory (10 carries for 102 yards and the long score) and Johnson (13 for 68 and 5 catches for 23 yards and a touchdown) allow New York to have dependable backs for all situations, allow they might to need to duplicate their debuts against a Packer defense that allowed the Seahawks to run for 207 yards.
Smith’s stats looked great (23 of 28 for 221 yards and a touchdown), but he only but up a QBR of 32, which is far below the average of 50 due to an interception and lost fumble. Besides Eric Decker’s 74 yards on five grabs, no other wide receiver had more than Jeremy Kerley’s 38 yards on 5 catches from the wide receiver position, contributions that won’t be enough when teams stack up to stop the run.
The young signal-caller’s performance in the redzone, along with the entire offense, is especially troubling when you consider that the Jets put up 402 yards of offense and moved the ball effectively. This is another problem New York can’t afford to have creep up in Green Bay if they want to get to 2-0.
New England Patriots
The Week 1 loss for New England that included getting shutout 23-0 in Miami was one that probably necessitated a lot of inner criticism and looking in the mirror for the always perfectionist Patriot squad.
On Monday, ESPNBoston.com’s Lee Schechter recounted some of what he heard from players in the locker room after the surprising defeat:
Solder talks about O-line problems. Starting left tackle Nate Solderacknowledged that the rotational approach on the offensive line may have created some issues, but stressed that it’s part of the process.
“There might have been a little bit of that,” Solder said. “I think it’s just a matter of going through a lot of things together and gaining that familiarity. And I think we will work well together as long as we continue to do the things that we are coached to do.”
Solder said it was tough to watch the film, but that he and his teammates need to move on.
“You don’t try to drive yourself mad with what could have — what should have happened with the whole deal. But you do have to take some things and improve on them.”
Slater preaches fundamentals. Special-teamer Matthew Slater thinks a focus on the fundamentals this week can help the team rebound. “I think the biggest thing for us this week is going back to square one and focus on the fundamentals,” he said. “I think fundamentally we have to do a number of things better. It wasn’t a lack of effort or anything like that. We just have to go back to the basics and try to improve. … That’s all we can control — what we are doing. Other teams have different schemes, different players, whatever it may be. But the only thing that we can control is what we do. It’s everything that we go back and focus on doing our job better.”
A rare feeling in the locker room. Team captain and safety Devin McCourty hasn’t lost too many games in his career in New England. “It’s never a happy meeting after a loss,” McCourty said. “There’s no panic. … First game of the season — we can’t make that affect the rest of the season. … It feels strange after every game we lose. I haven’t lost many games here, so every time we do lose it’s a different feel.”
Like McCourty says, there is “no panic”, even though the Patriots are currently in last place with every other team in the division registering a victory. The last time the Patriots lost their opener was also a shocker to a division rival, a 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the first game of the 2013 season, a year in which New England won the Super Bowl.
The four sacks of Brady allowed in the second half, however, are of a major concern this week against a Minnesota Vikings defense that will be at home. Under new coach Mike Zimmer, who’s Cincinnati defense limited the Patriots offense to six points and ended Tom Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass last October, Minnesota’s defense sacked Rams quarterbacks five times and outscored the Rams offense with an interception returned for a touchdown in a 34-6 win.
New England has been good in the Brady-Belichick era of avoiding consecutive losses, probably because of their emphasis on fundamentals. However, a loss in Minnesota to put the squad at 0-2, to a team previously viewed as the likely cellar dwellar in the NFC North, would truly create some “panic” for Patriots fans expecting a potential Super Bowl run.
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