September 03, 2003
Bills Just Got Tougher
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
FOXBORO, MA -- The saying goes, "don't get mad, get even."
It appears that's exactly what now former Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy is intending on doing.
Just one day after being cut by the Patriots in a salary cap move when the two sides couldn't reach an agreement on restructuring Milloy's contract, the former safety agreed to terms on a 4-year deal worth a reported $15-million with the division rival Buffalo Bills, giving him two chances a year to face his former team.
Needless to say Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills just got much more interesting.
Milloy is reportedly expected to join the team on Thursday but it's not immediately known whether or not he'll be on the field by game time on Sunday. While published reports on Wednesday said that Bills head coach Gregg Williams wanted to speak to Milloy first before deciding whether or not he'll see play against the Patriots, team president Tom Donahoe had told ESPN.com on Tuesday, "We'd sign him right now and play him on Sunday. We've made it clear that we want him here."
Considering the importance of Sunday's game for the Bills, one would have to believe that in all likelihood Milloy will be in uniform for Buffalo on Sunday against New England.
There are many who had felt that Milloy had lost a step and that he just didn't fit into the Patriots plans as the team has been making an effort to bring in younger players. Considering that the four-time Pro-Bowler is just 29-years old and has never suffered a serious injury, Donahoe disagrees completely with that assessment.
"We think he's still a good football player," said Donahoe in a quote from the Bills official website. "Obviously they do too. They tried to keep him. We heard a lot of stories out of New England last year that (Drew) Bledsoe was washed up too so draw your own conclusions."
Meanwhile looking back at the last two meetings between these two teams, the edge would still have to favor New England. The Patriots beat the Bills in both games by a combined 65-24 score, outscoring Buffalo in the first half by an astounding 37-7 edge in those games. To make matters worse despite his absence on the team's injury report, runningback Travis Henry suffered a bad ankle sprain against the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago and will likely be hampered a bit heading into Sunday's game against New England.
Despite these facts Bledsoe believes that the Bills are still a better football team than his former club, and feels that with the players Buffalo added during the offseason their defense should keep the game a lot closer this time around.
"I think that on paper and on the practice field we are a better football team," Bledsoe told the media in a conference call on Wednesday. "Last year, the talent was there on our offensive line, but there was just some confusion from time to time. I think having another year under their belt should allow them to be a lot more effective."
"Defensively, we have made some very obvious additions with [Takeo] Spikes and Sam Adams and [Jeff] Posey coming in and playing linebacker for us too. I would expect our defense to be a little more stingier this year than they were last year and I would expect our offensive production to remain high. The real goal for us this year is to eliminate some the mistakes that put us behind the eight ball in some games."
Turnovers didn't help the Bills cause last season. The Patriots were all over Bledsoe and held the edge in combined sacks and also did a number on the Bills in takeaways by an astounding 12-1 ratio.
Is Belichick in Bledsoe's head?
"Ridiculous," Belichick told the media on Wednesday regarding that notion. "I am not in anybody's head. I am just trying to put together a game plan against each opponent that we play. Each team presents its own challenges and Buffalo presents a lot of them for us."
"Offensively they are well coached and they have good players. They will be tough to stop, especially at home on opening day."
When he traded Bledsoe, Belichick knew what team Bledsoe was headed to when he sent him to Buffalo. When he cut Milloy, it's doubtful that he thought the former Pats safety would also end up in a Bills uniform. Now he'll need to spend two games a year preparing for two of his former players. Whether or not Milloy can give the Bills enough insight into Belichick's defensive schemes remains to be seen, but it makes the AFC East rivalry that much more interesting.
"I am sure they will have a lot of energy in the game and I think we will have to play well to win," said Belichick. "They are a good team."
With Milloy, they're now even better.
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