Tag Archives: Bills

Bills at Patriots Review – Week 11

Rex Ryan and the Bills approached playing the Patriots the second time around much differently than they did in Week 2.

Buffalo and their outspoken coach were relatively silent over the course of the week, and the focus on the game showed on the field on Monday.

The Pats were held to just 20 points on Monday Night. Their lowest output of the season offensively.

Luckily, the defense stepped up and delivered another solid performance. Coupled with a few big misses by Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Let’s take a look at what went wrong offensively, and how the defense got the Pats to 10-0:

On Offense

Offensive Line: By now you have heard many a times how awful the Patriots offensive line was on Monday night. What’s worrisome about Monday night’s performance was the amount of pressures the O-Line gave up just by getting beat in one-on-one situations. The Bills deserve a lot of credit for disguising the rush and dialing up some different blitzes that had Tom Brady guessing on protections. It isn’t the offensive lines responsibility to read the defense and change the protection based on what they see, that’s on the quarterback. If the Patriots want to continue to be the high-powered offense that they have been thus far this season, they need a better effort from the group upfront. Marcus Cannon, in particular, had a rough performance in this one. In all, Brady was hit 13 times, just an unacceptable number for any quarterback.

Wide Receivers: When both Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola went down in Monday’s game, the broadcast quickly became about the lack of weapons around Tom Brady, especially at the wide receiver position. The O-Line was woeful, but it was also clear that the Patriots receivers weren’t getting any separation from the Bills defensive backs. Brady had to get rid of the ball quickly, and there just weren’t enough opportunities being made by his receivers down field. Having said that, with the news that Danny Amendola’s knee injury is minor, I still think they have enough pass catchers to get by. Gronk, Amendola, and LaFell should be enough for Tom Brady to move the offense.

Credit to Buffalo: The Patriots had their worst offensive performance of the season on Monday, and the biggest reason for that (yes, even bigger than injuries) was the gameplan and execution by the Bills defense. You have to tip your cap to Rex Ryan. He had about as good of a gameplan against this Patriots offense as you can draw up. It was obvious that the Bills liked their chances with their outside corners vs the Patriots WRs, and for good reason. The Bills devoted multiple defenders to Gronkowski when he lined up as an in-line tight end. When Gronk went outside, he mostly drew the Bills best CB Ronald Darby. The Bills also did a great job of disguising who was rushing the passer and who was dropping into coverage. It forced Brady and the O-Line to react to the Bills defense instead of diagnosing the play call pre-snap. If it wasn’t for a few busted coverages and Tom Brady’s efficiency against the blitz (7-10 for 128 yards, TD) the Patriots never would have put up 20 points. That’s about as good as you can play this Patriots offense.

On Defense

Run Defense: One of the keys to this game was if the Patriots defense could slow down the Bills rushing attack (ranked 2nd entering Week 11). The Pats held LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, and mobile QB Tyrod Taylor to just 94 yards on the ground. How did they do it? By two-gapping in the 3-4, setting the edge, and limiting the cutback lanes for Shady McCoy. McCoy is a tremendous running back, who likes to set up the defense for bigger runs by cutting back just when you think you have him stopped. The Pats defensive line deserves a lot of credit for holding up the Bills O-Line and playing discipline run defense.

Tyrod Taylor: In reality, the Bills lost this game because Tyrod Taylor couldn’t make the necessary throws to beat a team as good as the Pats. Taylor had good success throwing the deep ball in the first few games of the season, but has really regressed in that area as of late. Taylor was 4-9 for 107 yards on deep passes. The stats aren’t awful, but he under threw a number of open receivers, which cost the Bills at least a touchdown. He did connect on a few nice deep balls to WR Chris Hogan, and threw a nice pass to Shady McCoy that was broken up by Devin McCourty on a great play. Where this really hurts the Bills offense is its effect on second year receiver Sammy Watkins. Over the last two weeks, Watkins has been open deep a number of times and Taylor has flat out just missed the throw.

Jerod Mayo: There have been a lot of questions about Mayo’s role in this defense and his lack of playing time. This was one of Mayo’s best performances this season. Mayo played in just 16 defensive snaps, but recorded five tackles and one run stuff. The Pats have opted to play Jonathan Freeny over Mayo in Jamie Collins’ absence. The lack of snaps for Mayo has a lot to do with the team easing him back into games after suffering two significant injuries in the last two seasons. In an ideal world, Mayo would be the third linebacker on the depth chart behind Hightower and Collins.

Stock Up, Stock Down For Patriots vs Steelers

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A lot has happened since the Patriots and Steelers kicked off the NFL season, but let’s take one more look at the Patriots opening night win

For the 11th time in 12 years the Patriots have started off the season 1-0. In fact, the Patriots have now won eight straight openers at home.

Getting the season off on the right foot is not overrated. 0-1 is by no means a death sentence historically, but starting the season 0-2 could be considered one.

Since the NFL adopted its new 12-team playoff format in 1990, just over 13% of teams that start the season off 0-2 have made the playoffs.

Tom Brady has never started a season 0-2. He’s now 12-2 lifetime in season openers, and won both games following the loss.

Brady had another great performance to start the season last Thursday night. As his four touchdowns passes led the way to a 28-21 victory over the Steelers.

Let’s take a look at who’s stock is up and who’s stock is down after Week 1:

Stock Up:

Tom Brady: It doesn’t come as a surprise that regular season Tom Brady differed greatly from pre-season Tom Brady. Something has to be said about the awful play of the Steelers defense, but Brady was masterful. From the end of the first quarter to the start of the fourth, Brady went 19 straight passes without an incompletion. Brady was just three completions shy of breaking Joe Montana’s record for the most consecutive completions in a game. Brady also continued his dominance against Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. Since Tomlin took over as coach in 2007, Brady is 4-1 against Pittsburgh, with 17 touchdowns to zero interceptions. Finally, the Patriots quarterback threw for four touchdown passes yet again. Moving him into a tie for third all time with 23 career games with 4+ pass TDs.

Rob Gronkowski: The Steelers made headlines last week when they talked up a plan to stop #87, but didn’t even come close. At times, the Steelers coverage on the big guy was flat out embarrassing. Matching him up 1-on-1 with linebackers, and sometimes not covering him at all. Gronk now has seven straight games with a touchdown reception including playoffs, and passed Dez Bryant for the most TD grabs since 2010. Incredible when you factor in that Gronk has missed 15 games in just over 5 seasons. Gronkowski is also just one multi-TD game shy of Randy Moss’ all-time Patriots record. The Patriots set up Gronkowski’s third touchdown earlier in the game, when he ran a slant/pick play out of this formation to free up Scott Chandler for the TD. The second time around Brady threw the beautiful fade and Gronk did the rest:

Dion Lewis: Rex Ryan might not know who Dion Lewis is, but he should probably find out before Sunday. Sure, the Patriots third-down role has always yielded great production, but Lewis looked right at home. When you factor in that this was Lewis’ first career start, he hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2012, and that he had just 3 career receptions prior to Week 1; it’s no wonder why Ryan doesn’t know anything about him. Everything Lewis did last Thursday night was a career high. Lewis is reminiscent of a poor man’s Darren Sproles. With his great burst and footwork in small areas, and his fantastic ability to make defenders miss. Lewis forced five missed tackles against the Steelers, proving to be both sure-handed and difficult to bring down.

Jabaal Sheard: If Jabaal Sheard continues to play this well for the Patriots they are going to have to find him more snaps. Sheard was apart of a rotation that netted him 50 out of a possible 73 snaps in Week 1. In those 50 snaps he recorded a sack, four QB hurries, and was arguable the Patriots best run defender. Sheard is a force on the edge, and was one of the only Patriots defenders to have a positive impact in the run game. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich have logged a lot of snaps over the last few years at the two defensive end positions, but Sheard piggybacked off of a great pre-season with another solid performance.

Offensive line: Minus two starters in Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell, this young offensive line put together a great performance. Tom Brady was pressured just 11 times, and with three rookies starting you couldn’t have expected much more. Nate Solder could go in the stock down category, as he was called for two penalties and struggled at times. More is needed out of this group in the run game, however.

Stock Down:

Malcolm Butler: It feels a bit cruel to rag on Butler for his performance in Week 1 due to the matchup, but nonetheless the talk of Butler being a shutdown corner was immediately put on hold. Antonio Brown might be the best receiver in football. He can lineup all over the field, has great speed and quickness, and fantastic catching ability. The Patriots tested Butler by having him follow the all-pro all around on Thursday night, and it cost them. Butler was beat ten times in 11 targets for 151 yards and a score. It wasn’t all bad, as many of those catches were highly contested balls where Brown just made great plays, but he was beat badly a number of times as well. Chalk it up as good learning experience for the Super Bowl hero.

Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich: Jones and Nink were two of the Patriots best defensive players in last years Super Bowl run, but both played poorly against Pittsburgh. Bill Belichick tends to stress setting the edge to his defensive ends more than anything else in the run game. Both Jones and Ninkovich got sucked in by the Steelers misdirection run plays, and lost the edge way too many times. DeAngelo Williams ran all over the Patriots defense in large part due to the Patriot losing containment on the outside. These two will have to be better in that area if they are going to control the likes of LeSean McCoy.

Run defense: The Patriots gameplan defensively was basically to ignore the Steelers run game. With Patrick Chung playing LB, the Patriots went small for most of the night. This proved to be costly, as the Steelers obviously out-muscled the Patriots up front. The Patriots three biggest run stuffers (Siliga, Brown, and Branch) played just 62 total snaps. Instead, the Pats went with a “NASCAR” formation, playing three defensive ends on the line. The move hung linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower out to dry for much of the game, as they had offensive lineman blocking them directly on a number of plays. The Patriots would be wise to focus more on stopping the run against Buffalo.

It was easy to give all the gold stars to the offense this week, and give bad grades to the defensive side of the ball.

You might not think of the Bills as an offensive juggernaut, or Tyrod Taylor as an elite quarterback, but they have enough weapons on offense to give the Patriots defense problems.

DeAngelo Williams was able to rack up 127 yards on the ground. If you give Shady McCoy those type of running lanes he might go for over 200.

Add the Buffalo defense into the equation, arguable one of the stingiest defensive in all of football. The Bills defense had three takeaways against the Colts on Sunday, and held one of the leagues top offenses to just 14 points (they averaged 28.6 in 2014).

The Colts weren’t able to keep pressure out of Andrew Luck’s face (pressured 17 times), and like most weeks that will be the key offensively for the Patriots. Protect Tom Brady and you often get good results.