Monday Patriots Notebook 9/14: Battle in Buffalo Should Be A Tough One
As expected, it looks like the AFC East is going to be a challenging Division this season following Miami, the NY Jets and Buffalo all winning their respective contests to open 2015. Miami took care of Washington 17-10, the Jets beat Cleveland handily 31-10, while Buffalo made a statement in their home opener with a 27-14 beating of Andrew Luck and the Colts.
The Buffalo game is obviously the one that stands out the most since the Patriots will head out there next Sunday to battle the Bills and that’s a game that should raise a red flag. Buffalo’s defense caused a lot of problems for the Colts on Sunday, getting pressure on Luck and making him miserable throughout.
To add to it, the Bills crowd absolutely brought it Sunday, making so much noise that even Ryan’s defensive players had a hard time communicating while the fans did their best to make things tough on Indianapolis.
“Our fans were up the whole time,” Ryan said after the game via the Democrat and Chronicle, admitting that they’ll have to crank up the music during their practices this week so their defense can prepare accordingly. “It was unbelievable and I was like, ‘You can sit down anytime soon,’ but I forgot this is Buffalo. It was awesome.”
For the Patriots, there’s plenty of reason to believe this won’t be an easy game. They’re coming off of a week where they just allowed Pittsburgh’s DeAngelo Wiliams to rack up 127 yards on the ground and really struggled throughout to stop him up front. It doesn’t help that they also lost Dominique Easley during Thursday night’s win, with Easley going down early in the game with a hip pointer, which thrust third round pick Geneo Grissom into the line-up for extended playing time.
That’s tough news considering Buffalo took a page out of how New England attacked them in January and put up 147 yards on the ground against the Colts. The bigger question is obviously whether or not that’s a product of Indianapolis’ ongoing issues against the run, or if the Bills are really going to be that potent running the football this season. So far the Patriots haven’t proven they can stop anyone from running the ball against them and the only way to stop the run – if they can’t do it defensively – is going to be by building a big lead and forcing teams to start throwing the football.
Against Pittsburgh New England gave up four rushes of over 10 yards and one for over 20, which is uncharacteristic of how this team normally plays. They also had some problems giving up big plays in the passing game as well, allowing four plays over 20-yards, three of which went for over 30 yards.
That will likely be the problem for the first few weeks until the coaching staff starts to get things settled down and guys begin carving out roles for themselves. It’s a process and as we saw last season it took more than a month for this team to start figuring things out, so it’s obviously too early to make any snap judgments off of one game.
For now Easley’s injury is reportedly expected to keep him out a couple of weeks, and the Patriots may need to hope their offensive success continues until their defense works out the kinks.
Either way, expect next week to be an exciting game and hopefully this team is ready to deal with whatever Rex and company put together for them.
HOPEFULLY A MEMO IS COMING
Roger Goodell might not be happy he was beaten in court by Tom Brady but hopefully that doesn’t stop him from trying to at least do the right thing before it gets out of hand. New England has already had to listen to additional suggestions of cheating since the ruling two weeks ago, and after listening to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin imply something sketchy might have occurred in Foxboro Thursday night involving the headsets and Mike Martz still implying someone from the Patriots was potentially at their walkthrough before the Super Bowl in 2002, things are clearly reaching a level where something needs to be done.
According to ProFootballTalk.com, there is a bylaw within the NFL that specifically discusses this topic and it’s something that is supposed to be against the rules as mandated by the league.
As they point out, Article IX, Section 9.1(C)(4) provides that teams may not “[p]ublicly criticize any member club or its management, personnel, employees, or coaches and/or any football official employed by the League. All complaints or criticism in respect to the foregoing shall be made to the Commissioner only and shall not be publicized directly or indirectly.”
Needless to say, if you have a complaint, talk to Goodell and not the media. The NFL already made statements admonishing the Patriots of any wrongdoing but that doesn’t stop the continued negative PR surrounding a team that has taken a lot of bad publicity this offseason involving something that all indications seem to point to may not have even happened. Bill Belichick has already given his opinion on the matter and now it’s up to Goodell to start enforcing these rules and follow Bob Kraft’s lead in trying to eliminate the “rhetoric” from opposing coaches and owners who seem to be lining up to comment recently.
PATS/COWBOYS MATCH JUST GOT A LITTLE EASIER:
Malcolm Butler can quietly breathe a little easier following Sunday’s night’s nail-biter between the Giants and Cowboys. That game saw Dallas lose wide receiver Dez Bryant to an injury, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting that Bryant is out for at least 4-6 weeks after reportedly suffering a broken bone in his foot that will require surgery.
That works out well for New England, who would have faced him in week five. Fortunately it looks like he’ll be back in action against the Dolphins, Bills and Jets, so hopefully he’s good and healthy when he does return and ready to do some damage against New England’s AFC East Foes.
BELICHICK PRAISES BUTLER IN BATTLE WITH BROWN
Malcolm Butler found himself in a tough battle with the Steelers’ Antonio Brown Thursday night, and despite being in good position on several plays Brown managed to put up 133 yards on 9 catches including a touchdown.
Butler never let up despite the fact Brown kept getting the better of him, and Belichick said the next day that Butler did about all he could have done against him.
“I thought Malcolm competed really well,” said Belichick. “Both guys made some plays. But, I agree with you – it won’t get much tougher than that. Antonio is really a good player that’s good in the deep part of the field, he’s good on catch and run plays – the screens they try to throw to him and the under routes and stuff like that and the intermediate routes. He ran a real good route on a double move. I think it was a good battle. Hopefully we can learn from it all the way around.”
Edelman and Gronk Finish Perfect on Third Down
Looking at some numbers Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski both caught everything thrown their way on third down on Thursday night, with one potential incompletion to Edelman having been called back thanks to a pass interference penalty.
At this point Brady is 4-of-6 on third down so far this season, throwing incompletions to Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden respectively. Both Edelman (2-of-2 18yds) and Gronkowski (1-of-1 1TD) played well Thursday night and was one of the primarily reasons New England’s offense was so productive.
Hopefully that success continues when they battle Buffalo next weekend.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary