by Mario Granata
Now many of you have had an opinion on the Buffalo Bills 40-32 loss to the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium, however there are a few points that you need to remember before you start to throw in the towel on the Bills (not that any of us would do that, I am just putting it out there). As there was a popular show on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic called The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame… that aired from 2005 to 2007 that would highlight various events that happened in sports, and why you should reconsider the outcome as proven fact. Well, we here at Hashtag Sports have our own version based on the game this past Sunday.
1. Patriots had a few extra days to game plan for the Bills
To open the 2015 NFL season, the New England Patriots faced the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. The Buffalo Bills were to play that following Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Now anyone who knows anything, giving Bill Belichick a few extra days to game plan for an opponent can have adverse effects for that opponent. You can bet the Patriots were in the film room reviewing the past years that they have had to face a Rex Ryan led defense, as well as a Greg Roman orchestrated offense. This extra time was crucial, as Tom Brady shred the Bills defense for 466 passing yards. (However, Brady needed 59 pass attempts, which breaks down to about 7.8 yards per attempt. Not that daunting a number when you think about it.) The best one game planner in the history of the league (Belichick) is lethal when given more time.
2. Belichick vs. “Rookie” Quarterbacks
True, Tyrod Taylor isn’t a rookie by NFL standards, however he was making his 2nd career start against the Patriots. This is even tough for a veteran quarterback (Google Peyton Manning). Throughout the preseason and even against the Colts, Taylor was making half-field reads, and like Belichick has done so many times before, he took a lot of the first reads away from Taylor, forcing him to hang onto the ball longer and throw into the second level. The result: 8 sacks and 3 interceptions. I am not surprised with these numbers, especially when you take into account that Belichick blitzed a majority of the time when Karlos Williams in the game. Previously, Williams and McCoy were out running patterns and not staying into block, and to ask back to stay in and pick up a blitz, especially a rookie in Williams’s case, the veteran coach will win more battles than he loses in those situations.
3. Rex Ryan Defensive Scheme
Ryan’s defense is predicated on bringing pressure, overwhelming numbers that the offense cannot block. As a result, the cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers that aren’t blitzing have man coverage, which puts a lot of pressure on them. Julian Edelman, much like Wes Welker before him is deadly on routes under 10 yards, and Rob Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare for even the most premier secondary players in the league. When Ryan would blitz, Brady would hit his hot route, and keep the chains moving. The Patriots were only 4-10 on 3rd down, but that number is insignificant when they would pick up the first down before then. Ryan’s plan should have been to bracket both Edelman and Gronkowski and let the “Cold Front” generate pressure by the way that they can.
4. Playing back-to-back AFC Championship participants the previous year
The Colts played the Patriots in the infamous “Deflate Gate” game just 8 months prior, and the way that the Bills won with ease against the Colts probably gave them a false sense of security when they faced the Patriots. Yes, the Bills players stated that they wanted this game, and that they don’t like New England, but they came out and scored quick and probably thought it was going to be easy sledding like the previous week. Three Patriots scores brought them back down to earth and they had to scramble on both sides of the ball to try and make up the deficit.
Yes, Corey Graham left the Colts game with concussion-like symptoms, and the Bills lost Aaron Williams in the 3rd quarter, which dealt their team a blow that they couldn’t recover from. With so many young players already in many positions, the Bills were undisciplined and let their emotions get the best of them against the Patriots which turned possible drive stoppages into prolonged agony for many Buffalo fans.
If you agree or disagree with the reasons why the Buffalo Bills were on the short end Sunday against the Patriots, one thing that cannot be denied was that the Bills never quit. The Patriots took their foot off the gas when they built a 37-13 lead, and the Bills showed all the explosive playmakers that they have been able to put together over the past few years. The Bills have some time to sit on this one and regroup before their next meeting with the Patriots and I expect a different team to take the field when they meet on November 23rd. Time to build chemistry both offensively and defensively before they try to slay the giant of the AFC East again.