In what will be the true test of turning around the past decade of futility, the Bills need to find a way to defeat one of the better teams of the past decade and decision rival, the New England Patriots. Both teams are 2-0 so far with big offensive scoring and new lineups defensively. It has been 8 years (15 losses in a row)since the Bills have been able to beat Tom Brady who is still at the top of his game. Based on the first two games of the season, I have isolated three areas that the Bills need to capitalize to have a chance to win.
1: DON’T GIVE BRADY TIME TO THROW
This is perhaps the hardest thing to do for the Bills between Tom Brady’s remarkable talent and a strong offensive line. In just two games Brady has nearly thrown 1,000 yards passing completing more than 70% of his passes with a 7-1 TD/INT ration. The Bills need two things to happen. The first is to generate pressure, something which the Bills have not really been able to do. This I feel was in response to a conservative attack plan due to both the Chiefs and Raiders having excellent running backs. The Patriots, despite heavy investment in that area, are averaging just over 4 yards a carry and rely more on Brady’s arm to (successfully) move the ball. Now is the time for Shawne Merriman to let loose and do his thing.
2: BETTER PASS DEFENSE
The other thing the Bills need is tighter pass coverage. Regardless of what the Bills secondary will do, Brady is capable of fitting in passes in tight areas and finding the best player to throw to. The Bills simply need to jam up the receivers early as zone defense is a bit sluggish and the man to man (McKelvin) coverage got pummeled by Jason Campbell (who by all means is an average QB). The Bills linebackers will have their first true test against elite TEs particularly with local Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Both players are averaging nearly 80 yards a game and have 5 TDs. What I liked most about the Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison signings is that these linebackers play well against the pass so if there is ever a time to show their ability, this week is it. Expect to see these guys a lot on the field as well as nickel corner Aaron Williams and strong safety Bryan Scott.
3: ESTABLISH A RUNNING GAME
So far this aspect has been working out quite well with the Bills with Fred Jackson averaging over 100 yards a game with 6.5 yards a carry. Indeed Freddy is leading the NFL with 229 yards on the ground (and to think that he had to fight for his starting job again). Yet Gailey only gave him the ball 35 times so far. From what I have seen, Fitz has trouble moving the ball until the Bills can open up the run game ergo give Freddy more reps in the beginning and infuse Spiller from time to time which the Bills did well against Oakland. The Patriots have so far been able to limit opponents to under 100 yards rushing per game (around 5 yards a carry though) but you have to remember the Chargers and Dolphins are pass happy teams. A more balanced attack early on will give the offense the necessary boost.