Column as I see 'em, Week Two:
On Sunday, the Bills' defense sacked Cam Newton six times, forced him into a number of bad throws, and held the Panthers without a touchdown. You would expect things to get a bit easier at home against the Broncos this coming Sunday.
Newton is a former No. 1 overall pick, the league MVP two years ago, a superstar quarterback. Denver will led by Trevor Siemian, a former seventh-round draft pick who was so indecisive at Northwestern that his teammates used to refer to him as "Checkdown Trevor."
In fact, the Bills will be facing a hotter quarterback Sunday at New Era Field. Siemian threw for 232 yards and four TDs in Denver's 42-17 rout of the Cowboys. After two weeks, the third-year pro leads the NFL with six touchdown passes. Among QBs who have played two games, he's the league's fourth-rated passer.
Of course, Siemian was an early-season revelation a year ago as the Broncos jumped to a 4-0 start. He threw four TDs passes in Week Three win at Cincinnati. But he separated his shoulder against Tampa Bay the following week, sat out a game, and leveled off in the stretch as Denver lost five of its last six and missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Siemian had minor surgery on his left shoulder after the season. When Gary Kubiak retired as head coach, new head man Vance Joseph opened up the QB competition and Siemian outplayed Paxton Lynch, the Broncos' first-round pick in the 2016 draft.
Joseph called the move permanent, and Siemian has justified the call after two games. Sunday will be Denver's first road game of the season, so Siemian will face the resurgent Bills defense in their hostile home environs.
"He has the poise of an eight- or nine-year veteran," Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said after the Dallas win. "If we do what we need to do on defense, Trev is going to be a star this year."
The defense looks up to the task thus far. Outside linebacker Von Miller, the Super Bowl 50 MVP, had 12 quarterback pressures and two sacks of Dak Prescott, who was picked off twice. The Broncos held Ezekiel Elliott, the league's top rusher a year ago, to eight yards on nine carries.
This was the comment from Denver defensive end Derek Wolfe: “The idea was to make Prescott beat us, because we knew he couldn’t.”
What do you suppose is their opinion of Tyrod Taylor?
* * *
Speaking of Elliott, he was visibly frustrated by the Broncos' smothering defense. He quit on a play that had critics calling for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to discipline his star running back.
The play came in the third quarter with Dallas trailing, 28-10. Prescott threw a pass toward Dez Bryant, who was running a route just outside Elliott on the left. The pass was intercepted by Chris Harris, who was about five yards from Elliott. Elliott stopped, placed his hands on his hips and didn't pursue him.
Elliott quit on the play, which ended with Harris being tackled by a lineman. Maybe Elliott's pending suspension for sexual assault is getting to him. It's more likely that he was embarrassed by the worst game of his brief career. As a rookie, he rushed for a league-leading 1,631 yards and wasn't under 80 rushing yards until the Giants held him to 51 in the finale.
"He absolutely quit on his team today," said LaDainian Tomlinson on NFL Network. Those are the words of a Hall of Fame running back.
* * *
Four years after leaving college, former Lockport star running back David Fluellen finally got to carry the ball in an NFL game. Fluellen, who was a Connolly Cup finalist in 2009, had 18 yards on three carries late in Tennessee's 37-16 win at Jacksonville on Sunday.
The game was a matchup of head coaches who walked away from the Bills head job, Doug Marrone and Mike Mularkey. The game was well in hand when Fluellen spelled Titans backup Derrick Henry, who had 92 of Tennessee's 176 rushing yards, in the final two minutes. One of his rushes went for 10 yards.
Fluellen, who played special teams in the opener, was an undrafted free agent with the Eagles, who traded him to the Colts in 2014. He's had three stints on the practice squad in Tennessee before making the active squad this summer. He could get more work behind Henry because starter DeMarco Murry is nursing a hamstring injury that forced him to leave Sunday's game.
At Toledo, Fluellen, 25, rushed for 3,336 yards and 28 touchdowns in a four-year career. As a senior, he missed time with an injury, which paved the way for Kareem Hunt, who went on to be Toledo's all-time rushing leader and is currently the NFL's rookie sensation with the Chiefs.
* * *
This week's episode of "Is He Owned" features Rams rookie tight end Gerald Everett, who had three catches for 95 yards in a loss to Washington on Sunday. He had one catch for 39 yards in the opener.
Everett is another in the line of high school basketball stars who switched to the gridiron. He didn't play high school football until he was a senior. After bouncing around junior colleges, he went to UAB, but had to transfer to South Alabama when Alabama-Birmingham dropped its program.
He was all-Sun Belt in his two years at South Alabama and was the 44th pick in the draft last spring -- the Rams' first pick. First-year head coach Sean McVay loves him. McVay was known for getting big production from tight ends as the offensive coordinator at Washington.
Everett is unowned in my ESPN league and my media league. So I assume he's available in a lot of leagues right now.
* * *
Tom Brady threw three touchdowns in the first quarter for the first time in his career in Sunday's win over the Saints. He has done it several times in other quarters. Brady threw three TD passes, all to Randy Moss, in the second quarter of a 56-10 win over the Bills on Sunday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2007.
Brady holds the NFL record of five TD passes in a quarter. He did it in a 59-0 win over the Titans in 2009. He tossed five in a span of 9:44 of the second quarter that day. He threw a sixth early in the third quarter, giving him six TD passes in 14:43, or less than a full quarter of clock time.
* * *
The Jets, who are supposed to have a good defensive line, are last in the NFL in run defense. They allowed 180 on the ground to the Raiders after the Bills gashed them for 190 in the opener. The Broncos are fourth, allowing 52 yards a game. Another rough day for Shady McCoy looming this Sunday?
* * *
The Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after becoming the first team since 1939 to open a season with two home losses and no TDs. "The Bengals have already panicked," Boomer Esiason declared. I wonder how Boomer felt when Greg Roman was axed as OC two games in last year after the Bills scored 31 points in a home loss.