Matthews: The Bills Are 0-2, The Orange are 3-0

STRICTLY OPINION ON THE 0-2 BUFFALO BILLS...

ON THE ORANGE CRUSHING FLORIDA STATE

LA Chargers 31, Bills 20 It wasn’t that close.

I believe the 2018 Bills have the potential to be in the running for “worst team in franchise history.” Other Bills teams had lousy records but they probably had more overall talent.

One plus is that most of Buffalo’s good players are young and figure to still be around when the team becomes at least a marginal playoff contender again.

Tough choice: Which is weaker – Buffalo’s offense or defense?

Watching Sunday’s first half, I wondered if the Bills could’ve stopped the Chargers if defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier were allowed to put all of his players on the field at the same time.

My new all-time least-favorite Bills player is Vontae Davis, who retired from football at halftime. What was he thinking? What if everyone did that? Pending future developments, he’ll have a special place in NFL history as a quitter. Tough way to end a good career.

Under the circumstances, who cares how many mistakes rookie QB Josh Allen makes? He’s learning. On-the-job training. With training wheels. I liked much of what I saw from him Sunday. He reminds me of Drew Bledsoe as a passer (arm strength -- not accuracy) and Allen  has far more mobility.

I’m not surprised that the Bills cut veteran wide receiver Jeremy Kerley on Saturday. I’m sort of unclear as to why he was signed as a free agent in the first place.

If this were the NHL, I wonder if Aaron Rodgers were a second-string goalie, the Green Bay Packers might give his sprained knee a day off at home against Buffalo September 30.

NICK BOSA!!! NICK BOSA!!! The Ohio State star defensive lineman is the player I hope the Bills take if they “earn” the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL college draft. I like Buffalo’s chances.

THOUGHTS AND FACTOIDS ON THE NFL WEEK 2

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner returned to earth Sunday. Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did not.

Week 1, filling in for AWOL star RB Le’Veon Bell, Conner had an NFL-most 135 yards on 31 carries and 5 5 catches for 57 yards in a 21-21 tie with Cleveland. Sunday, in a 42-37 home loss to Kansas City, Conner had 8 carries for 17 yards and 1 TD and 5 catches for 48 yards.

Fitzpatrick, the poster boy for active journeymen NFL back-up quarterbacks, has been spectacular in his two starts for the Buccaneers while Jameis Winston serves a season-opening three game suspension. The Fitz Show will be on display next week on Monday Night Football against Pittsburgh and probably at Chicago September 30.

Fitz so far this season: 2-0 record...48 of 61 (.786 completion percentage) for 819 yards, with 8 TD passes, 1 INT and a 150.35 rating.

I don’t think Sunday’s New England road loss to Jacksonville was a fluke. The Patriots looked old and stale and the Jaguars appear to have a significant advantage in talented young athletes. Of course, people have been writing off New England for a long time.

SOME THINGS I LIKED ABOUT SU 30, FLORIDA STATE 7

The score, of course.

3-0 record. Host Connecticut Huskies Saturday. Should be 4-0 and might squeeze into AP Top 25 (could be a short stay; at Clemson September 29).

SU’s defense is catching up to SU’s offense. The Orange frustrated the Seminoles all afternoon.

Star quarterback Eric Dungey left the game in the second quarter but it was not due to a major injury. He had blurred vision after being poked in the eye.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy DeVito replaced Dungey and played very well: 11-of-16 for 144 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs passing; TD rushing. It had to be a confidence boost for future appearances.

SU’s offensive line dominated FSUI’s offensive line.

SU outgained FSU 441-240.

The Seminoles overall have significantly more elite athletes but SU has better coaching and hungrier athletes.

The attendance at the Carrier Dome: 37,467. SU fans, students and alumni have a reason to be excited before the basketball season starts November 6 against Eastern Washington.

BASEBALL THOUGHTS AND FACTOIDS

J.D. Martinez (Boston) MLB Triple Crown Quest:

Batting average – 1-Mokkie Betts .337...2-J.D. Martinez .328

Home runs – 1-Khris Davis 43...2-J.D. Martinez 41

RBIs – 1-J.D. Martinez 122...2-Khris Davis 115.

+++The New York Yankees lead MLB with 241 home runs through 149 games (13 games remaining). They’re on pace for 262 HRs. The team record is 245 (2012). The MLB record is 264 (Seattle 1997).

+++The Minnesota Twins were counting on Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton to be part of a winning young nucleus this season and for many tears to come. They’ve been a collective disappointment this season:

Kepler -- 145 games; .228, 19 HRs, 52 RBI

Sano – 70 games; .202, 13 HRs, 41 RBI

Buxton – 28 games; .156. 0 HRs, 4 RBI.

+++For the first time since 2012, MLB has a 30-30 Club member (at least 30 HRs + 30 stolen bases): Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez has 38 HRs and 32 stolen bases. Two other players have a chance to join him: Mooke Betts (Boson) 29 HRs, 28 SB; and Trevor Story (Colorado) 33 HRs, 26 SB.

+++Chris Davis update in his bid tp post the worst batting average among qualifiers in MLB’s modern era (post-1900):

Davis -- .174 batting average (79-for-455); 182 strikeouts

Rob Deer (Detroit 1991) -- .179 (80-for 448; 175 strikeouts

Dan Uggla (Atlanta 2013) -- .1279 (80-for-448); 171 strikeouts.

+++Boston third baseman Rafael Devers leads MLB with 22 errors (in only 107 games). Shortstops usually lead MLB in errors.

+++The Durham Bulls won their sixth International League Governors’ Cup since 2002 Saturday night with a 6-2 over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders in Moosic, Pa.  Attendance for the dod-or-die Game 5 of the best-of-five series was a mere 3,299. Durham will play the Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds Tuesday night the Triple-A Championship Game in Columbus.

ON THE FAST TRACK TO ROCHESTER: ROYCE LEWIS AND ALEX KIRILLOFF

Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff figure to be in the starting lineup for the 2020 Rochester Red Wings – at the latest.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis last week posted, “At This Time NextYear: Potential Top 10 Prospects”.  Minnesota Twins prospects Lewis and Kirilloff were rated No. 1 and No. 3, respectively – in all of baseball.

Lewis, a 19-year-old shortstop, was the No. 1 overall pick by Minnesota in the 2017 June amateur entry draft.  Kirilloff, a left-handed hitting corner outfielder, was the 15th overall pick in the 2016 June draft. He missed all of the 2017 season after Tommy John surgery.

Lewis and Kirilloff were teammates at Cedar Rapids (Class A Midwest League) and Fort Myers (Class A+ Florida State League) this season:

Lewis (75 games Cedar Rapids and 46 games Fort Myers): 121 total games; .292 (141-for-483); 83 runs; 29 doubles; 3 triples; 14 HRs; 74 RBI; 28 stolen bases;  43 walks; 84 strikeouts; .352 on-base percentage +  .451 slugging percentage; .803 OPS.

Kirilloff (65 games Cedar Rapids and 65 games Fort Myers): 130 games; .348 batting average (178-for-512); 75 runs; 44 doubles; 7 triples; 20 HRs; 101 RBI; 38 walks; 86 strikeouts; .392/.578/.970 OPS...He led the minor leagues in doubles, extra-base hits and total bases.

Callis on Lewis: “No problems handling pitching at two Class A levels at age 19...May have more power than expected and looked better at shortstop than anticipated.”

Callis on Kirillofff: “Looking like the successor to Vlad Guerrero and Eloy Jimenez as the game’s best all-around hitting prospect.”

Lewis and Kirilloff figure to start next season with the Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A Southern League). They should be playing in Rochester by the 2020 season.

SHORT SHOTS

The Minnesota Vikings are a whopping 16-point favorite at home Sunday against the Bills. The Vikings figure to win that’s that could be an overly generous spot – even to the Bills.

Syracuse’s War Memorial arena soon will have a corporate sponsor’s name ahead of War Memorial. A portion of the revenue from naming rights reportedly will go to needy Syracuse-area veterans. I guess that would help offset dropping War Memorial as the building’s main identifying name.

In case you still care, the National Women’s’ Soccer League North Carolina Courage, the transplanted Western New York Flash as of January 2017, will play the Chicago Red Stars in the semifinals Tuesday night in Portland, Ore. The game was scheduled for Sunday in Cary, N.C., but was moved because of Hurricane Florence. The winner will play the defending champion Portland Thorns FC Saturday, 9 p.m., ET (ESPNNews). Former WNY favorite McCall Zerboni will miss the game for the Courage because she suffered a broken ankle playing for the U.S. national team last week...In the other semifinal game, Portland beat the Seattle Reign FC, 2-1, last Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 14,179.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, September 17

Auston Matthews 21...Patrick Mahomes 23...Alexander Ovechkin 33......Jimmie Johnson 43...Rasheed Wallace 44...Mark Brunell 48...Ashley Ambrose 48...John Franco 58...Junior Bridgeman 65...Kermit Washington 67...Phil Jackson 73...Orlando Cepeda 81.

Tuesday, September 18

Serge Ibaka 29...Cordy Glenn 29...Mirz Teletovic 33...Lance Armstrong 47...Mike Compton 48...Toni Kukoc 50...Ryne Sandberg 59....Chip Banks 59...Jeff Bostic 60...Peter Stastny 62...Billy Sims 63...Tommy Tuberville 64..Rick Pitino 66....Darryl Stingley 67...Darryl Sittler 68...Scotty Bowman 85.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

September 17

98 years ago (1920), the National Football League was founded in Canton, Ohio. Twelve teams agreed to join the American Professional Football Association, re-named the NFL in 1922. Leo Lyons represented the Rochester Jeffersons...77 years ago (1941), Stan Musial, promoted from the Rochester Red Wings, made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals...71 years ago (1947), Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers was named Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News...65 years ago (1953), Ernie Banks became the first black player for the Chicago Cubs...64 years ago (1954), Rocky Marciano KO’d Ezzard Charles in 8 for the heavyweight boxing title...57 years ago (1961), the Minnesota Vikings in their first NFL game beat the Chicago Beats 37-13...Fran Tarkenton came off the bench to become the first NFL quarterback to pass for four TDs in his first career game...51 years ago (1967), the New Orleans Saints lost 27-123 to the Los Angeles Rams in their first NFL game...50 years ago (1968), Gaylord Perry of the Giants no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-0...34 years ago (1984), Reggie Jackson became the 13th player to hit 500 home runs....14 years ago (2004), Barry Bonds hit his 700th career home run.

September 18

170 years ago (1848), baseball ruled that the first baseman could touch the bag for an out instead of tagging the runner...80 years ago (1938), the Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers, 2-0...62 years ago (1956), Mickey Mantle became the eighth player to hit 50 HRs in a season...55 years ago (1963), a crowd of 1,752 watched the Phillies beat the Mets 5-1  in the final baseball game at the Polo Grounds...52 years ago (1966), Johnny Unitas threw his 212th career NFL TD pass, breaking Y.A. Tittle’s record...24 years ag (1994), the U.S. beat the International team 20-12 in the first golf Presidents Cup...22 years ago (1996), Roger Clemens tied his own record by striking out 20 in a nine-inning game.

Bob Matthews' Column

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