Helmet Stickers: Tampa Bay Bucs @ New York Jets

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

This is a new feature I'm going to introduce to GGN this year. Something I will do after each game, resulting in a tally at the end of the season to highlight our top performers.

So this year I'm going to be handing out some helmet stickers, college gameday style mixed in with a little NHL. After every game, I'll select three people, and award them either a 3rd, 2nd or 1st. Obviously a 1st being the best performer, followed by a 2nd and 3rd.

I realise that this is highly personal and others will disagree. However based on what I saw from these players, these are the guys who I feel deserve the recognition. By all means pop your own in the comments below, will be great to hear all your thoughts on our week one top performers.

So lets get things started:

Third Star: Geno Smith, Quarterback. 24/38 - 256 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception. 6 Rushes, 47 yards.

This had to be the hardest star to give away as there were plenty of people who deserved this. I've given Kellen Winslow, Damon Harrison and Muhammad Wilkerson all honourable mentions as I thought all three had great games. However when it came down to it, I gave the star to Geno Smith, and with good reason.

We are talking about a player making his first professional start at the most difficult position on the field. Against a team that gives nothing up in the run game, and against a secondary that is vastly improved and has two of the best players at their respective positions in Revis and Goldson. When you consider the receiving core that we have, with Holmes not 100%, and Hill and Kerley getting beat up, as well as the lack of protection he got, this is deserved.

Geno showed a lot of character in this game. He fumbled the football in the worst possible position, and threw a terrible interception. However he bounced back from both errors to drive the team down the field and hit Winslow for the TD. He then maintained several drives with his ability to run and even with just over 30 seconds to go, he put the team in position to win the game.

There is one play that no-one will talk about, and won't garner much attention. Backed up to our goal line the Jets tried to set a screen to Holmes. The Bucs sniffed this out immediately and it was never there, instead of try and force it and just execute the play as drawn up which almost certainly would have resulted in an in-completion, best case scenario or a pick-6, worst case scenario, he just threw the ball into the ground. Heads up, it won't make the highlight real, but it's that recognition that I love in a QB. I saw Aaron Rogers do the exact same thing against San Francisco later in the day. No I'm not comparing Geno to Aaron, just highlighting a stand up play.

So well done Geno, you're our Week 1: 3rd Star Player.

Second Star: Sheldon Richardson, Defensive Line. 3 solo tackles, 7 total tackles, 0.5 sacks

I'm more than happy to admit that when we selected Sheldon Richardson in the first round of the draft, I wasn't happy. Not because I thought Sheldon was a bad player, far from it! I just thought we had more pressing needs. However if he continues to play like he did last night, then we are all going to be very happy about this selection.

A hat-tip needs to go to the defensive line in general. I thought they were all superb, especially against the run. However Sheldon was just a nuisance on every single play. Number 91 was all over the field, he was pushing through on the interior, he showed some moves on the outside. When Tampa tried to stretch the play for Martin, Richardson came down the line in a hurry and delivered the tackle. Doug Martin is a top class running back and we held him in check.

Watching the game again, his motor is unbelievable. I watched the condensed game on Game Pass this morning and even into the 4th quarter he was coming upfield in a hurry. Working to the ball carrier. He showed excellent hands to make sure the offensive lineman could not engage him and he is one powerful player. With him, Snacks and Wilkerson on the same line, this season is going to be a lot of fun.

Bravo Sheldon, here is a 2nd star to start the season

First Star: Nick Folk, Kicker. 3/3 FG's, 48 long. 1/1 XP. 2 Touchbacks.

Generally I don't like giving a first star to a kicker, but Nick Folk has earned this one. Who knows if he'll get another this season. During the off-season we had Billy and Carpenter come in to compete, but here he is on opening day proving Idzik and Ryan right. When the weather gets colder, we may start to experience a couple of issues with his kick-offs, but for now he can take his moment in the spotlight.

He made field goals from 43 yards, 30 yards and then 48 yards. Two kicks over 40 and right through the middle. I can't imagine the pressure that a kicker is under with the game on the line. He is then presented with a kick of 48 yards, that's not an easy kick. However he looked calm and steady and he nailed it like it was a practise kick in pre-season. That's one hell of an effort for Nick and he rightfully deserves his main star!

Congratulations Nick, you're our Star of the Game!

Player First Star Second Star Third Star
Geno Smith 1
Nick Folk 1
Sheldon Richardson
1
Honourable Mention's Kellen Winslow Damon Harrison Muhammad Wikerson
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