Every sensationalized story about the Jets being a circus was wrong.
All the nay-saying, predictions of doom, talk of a changing of the guard in the AFC East, the made-up quarterback controversy. Throw it all out the window and get ready for an entertaining 2012 season.
The final result, 48-28, barely conveys the extent of the Jets; dominance the Bills.
At the end of the day, it is a win, and my predictions for the season are off on the right foot. Yet it is important to learn from wins.
Here are eight things we learned about the Jets on Sunday.
Fans of the New York Jets had every reason to be optimistic about fourth-year quarterback Mark Sanchez. After three consecutive years of improvement, Sanchez has a lot of potential heading into his prime years.
On the other hand, the national media was crushing Sanchez and predicting a quarterback controversy.
Sanchez put all that noise to rest with his performance on Sunday. Let us begin with the statistics.
He completed 19-of-27 passes, better than 70 percent , a benchmark for the most accurate quarterbacks.
With 266 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception, he had an efficient and productive day. It is worth noting that the interception occurred on a shovel pass that TV replay showed to be the wrong call. It really was an incomplete pass, with the defender having one foot out of bounds.
Even allowing for the mistaken interception, Sanchez finished an Aaron Rodgers-esque 123.4 quarterback rating and 9.9 yards per attempt.
There is not a quarterback in the NFL who would not be thrilled with the day Sanchez had. It is still debatable whether he will develop into a truly elite quarterback. Still, Jets fans have a lot of good things to look forward to from Sanchez.
The Jets took their collective foot off the gas in the third quarter when up 41-7. Up to that point, the Jets had played ab almost a perfect game on defense. The one bad play was a 56-yard touchdown run by C.J. Spiller, which was the result of several missed tackles.
To understand how the Jets were so dominant on defense, look no further than safety LaRon Landry. He was one of biggest pickups of the offseason in the NFL, acquired on a one-year deal at relatively low price.
The statistics tell about half the story. He led the Jets in tackles with seven, six solo. He also had two quarterback hits and forced a fumble that was picked up by safety Yeremiah Bell.
The other half is that he was everywhere on the field. When he went at the quarterback, he got pressure every time. When he made a tackle, opposing Bills dropped to the ground instantly. Landry is one of the most solid tacklers in the NFL and demonstrated that on Sunday.
It is worth mentioning that cornerback Darrelle Revis was taken into the locker room for concussion testing. He took an accidental kick to the head. Odds are he will be fine for Week 2.
I apologize for how badly the title of this slide is an understatement. Austin Howard, the 25-year-old tackle who was making only his second NFL start, played an excellent game. The upgrade from Wayne Hunter to Howard, though last-minute, has been huge.
Hunter drew star defensive end Mario Williams, the biggest defensive pickup of the offseason who was supposed to be the catalyst for the Bills getting back to the playoffs for the first time since the '90s.
Yet Williams was outplayed Sunday by Howard.
No, that's no joke.
Howard outplayed Williams as the Jets offensive line embarrassed the Bills defensive line. Williams' stat line for the game?
That's it. That's the whole stat line. He got no pressure, no penetration. Sanchez had all the time in the world to throw, going the whole game without getting sacked. The Jets as a team also ran for 118 yards on 36 carries.
The negative feelings fueled by Hunter's performances would make even moderately good play by Howard a huge positive for the team. That Howard had such a great performance should be a big source of optimism for Jets fans going forward.
Jets wide receiver and second-round draft pick Stephen Hill announced his presence to the world on Sunday. In his first NFL game, he led the Jets in receptions with five. He also scored two touchdowns and put up 89 receiving yards.
Pretty fantastic first showing for a rookie.
The Bills defensive backs simply had no answer for Hill. At 6'4'' and with one of the fastest top speeds among wide receivers in the NFL, they were unable to stay with him. He was open on almost every route.
The presence of Hill also opened up wide receiver Santonio Holmes in ways that he has not been since the 2011 playoffs. Holmes caught four balls for 68 yards.
The Jets lacked a talented deep threat in 2011. They now have one in Hill.
The Buffalo Bills have high expectations this year. Despite not reaching the playoffs yet this century, they are viewed by many as playoff favorites and the second-best team in the AFC East.
The hype surrounding the Bills has largely come hand-in-hand with the hype surrounding the Jets' supposed circus. If this game taught us anything, it is that the Bills are still the Bills.
The Jets vs. Bills rivalry has been one of the most lopsided in the NFL over the past decade. The Bills do not match up well against the Jets, even though they do match up well against some other teams.
The Jets are now 6-1 against the Bills in the Rex Ryan era, with the lone loss coming in overtime. That streak included five consecutive games in which the Bills failed to score more than 14 points in regulation.
One of the biggest issues is quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's unwillingness to acknowledge cornerback Darrelle Revis. He went after Revis multiple times in this game, with no real success, and was unsurprisingly picked off by Revis in the first quarter.
With the one exception being running back C.J. Spiller—who got extra carries due to Fred Jackson being injured—no one on the Bills' offense was effective until the Jets went into an ultra-conservative mode in the fourth quarter.
Week 1 confirmed that the guard in the AFC East has not changed. The Jets and the New England Patriots sit on top, fighting for first. The Bills sit on the bottom, fighting with the Miami Dolphins for third.
Head coach Rex Ryan made it extremely clear all offseason that Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback for the Jets and will be for a long time. Every quote and shred of evidence coming out of Jets' camp agreed with this.
Yet the media invention of quarterback controversy caught steam and stayed hot throughout the offseason. After Sunday's game, there is something that every Jets fan can say with confidence.
Mark is definitely the quarterback.
Mark is unequivocally the quarterback.
Mark is absolutely the quarterback.
Mark is without question the quarterback.
To be precise, Mark is the quarterback.
There is no controversy, no doubt. The only way that Sanchez will not be the starter at any point in 2012 is if he gets injured.
Sanchez threw 100 percent of the Jets' passes in Sunday's game. While backup Tim Tebow saw action, none of it was at the quarterback position. Of his 11 plays, only eight were on offense, and in none of those plays was throwing the ball an option.
There were no tricks. Tebow was a running back, he was a wide receiver, he was a blocker. He was many things. But one thing he is not is a starting quarterback.
There is no longer an argument.
Backup quarterback Tim Tebow still has a role on this team, perhaps more so than any other backup quarterback in the NFL.
He participated in 13 total plays in the game—10 on offense and three on special teams. By far his most impactful play was recovering an onside kick.
That recovery was a perfect microcosm of Tebow's role on the team. He is not going to do much at quarterback, but he is going to help the team. He was solid on the kick-return team and also as a punt protector.
Tebow also ran five times for 11 yards, performed a few hand-offs and lined up a couple of times at wide receiver.
Expect to see Tebow involved on both special teams and offense in every game this year. Just don't expect to see him throwing passes more than once in a blue moon.
After years of watching offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was a revelation.
The Jets' blueprint for winning a Super Bowl is based on complementary football, and that is what Sparano and Rex Ryan can finally bring to the Jets. Leveraging scores and field position off turnovers, the Jets offense was efficient all day, setting a franchise record for points in an opener with 48 (previous record was 41).
The Jets were aggressive and had an excellent mix of run and pass. With 27 passes (44 percent) and 36 runs (56 percent), the Bills were kept off-balance and did not know what to expect.
You could tell Sparano was having some fun when he ran a flea-flicker in the third quarter, already up by 34 points.
The new offense under Sparano has been anything but vanilla. With a mix of run and pass, play action and the Wildcat, the Jets offense was hard to stop. New punter Robert Malone did not even see the field until the fourth quarter.
The days of the three-and-out offense are over. This is not ground-and-pound either. This is a creative and highly mixed offense that tries to move the ball aggressively and score points.
Fans may not have yet realized this around the country. But NFL defenses will now be coming prepared for the Jets offense, which will be one of the more difficult ones to shut down in the NFL.