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Crumbling their cookies: how the Buffalo Bills should attack the New England Patriots

The Buffalo Bills are 3-0. The cookies of the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Cincinnati Bengals lie in their wake, crumbled with authority. The true New York team stands in lone opposition to the Evil Empire. We cannot look to the New Jersey Jets; they have run out of fuel and been grounded indefinitely. We cannot seek aid from the aquatic mammals from South Beach; they have become domesticated and content with doing tricks for fish rather than fight in the wild.

No, my friends...the responsibility...nay, the HONOR...of defeating the New England Patriots falls to us. But how best to accomplish this daunting task? I have some thoughts...


Literally all the pre-snap motion

Josh Allen needs every single shred of help the Bills can give him against what is currently the No. 1 defense in the league. William Stephen Belichick, son of Jeannette and Steve Belichick, has spent the better portion of 20 years confusing young quarterbacks and the biggest hurdle to overcome on Sunday will be his ability to do it to Josh Allen.

Pre-snap motion will allow Allen to ascertain man vs. zone at the snap of the ball. It’s very important to note that the defense can and will on occasion show a man or a zone look EVEN AFTER pre-snap motion and shift to the other post-snap. Putting John Brown in motion and seeing Stephon Gilmore follow him doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get man coverage, but it’s a good start. If the team is precise about the route concepts being zone/man beaters, Allen will still be closer to a binary decision-making process that will help him tackle what he’s seeing.

Put less people out in the routes

Having five skill positions out into routes on every pass play may not be the appropriate strategy this time around for Buffalo. During their game against the Jets, Brian Daboll sent running backs out into routes an overwhelming majority of the time. The team should explore not doing that against the Patriots. Going max protect with two- or three-man route combinations will allow Allen both more time to process what he’s seeing and more time for the “smurf” wide receivers the Bills employ to get off the physical coverage they’re likely to see from the Patriots’ defensive backfield. Simplifying the amount of things Allen is required to look at will help him look more like a speed reader and less like a first grader reading the story of the Puppy and the Duck in front of his class.

Put Tre’Davious White on Josh Gordon

Tre White has asked for this. He wants the big marque match-ups. He wants to prove how good he is. Well, now is his time. The Bills are going to want to bracket Julian Edelman (at the time of this writing, he has practiced and appears a probability to play on Sunday) and having White shadow Gordon allows them to do that. This is the perfect marriage of opportunity and desire. Tre wants it, and the Bills may very well need him to do it.

Use a safety in the box to mitigate passes to RBs

Tremaine Edmunds has improved leaps and bounds since this time last year and is very well on his way to being a great MLB in this league.

I’m not sure I want him covering James White out of the backfield, though.

Matt Milano had noteworthy struggles with Le’Veon Bell out of the backfield in Week 1 and Joe Mixon caused more damage per touch as a receiver than he did as a runner in Week 3. Tom Brady’s ability to manufacture offense through swing passes to his running backs is truly “death by paper cuts” and needs to be addressed. If you trust White one-on-one against Gordon (see above), then having two deep safeties becomes less of an issue and the single high safety can be utilized to assist over the top of Phillip Dorsett. Playing either Poyer or Hyde in the box will allow either he or one of the linebackers to flow to lateral passes more effectively.

Run Allen run

Josh Allen has a trump card: he can run. This is not the game to pass up easy first downs in hopes that something comes open six seconds into the play. I do want Allen to hold the ball longer (see my max-protection point above) because the receivers will need time to get off press, but if the Patriots don’t give you a spy (and depending on the spy, maybe even if they do) you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get the chains moving. If they decide to spy you with Jamie Collins, know that outside zone with a naked boot will help hold him long enough to clear the lanes for the running game.


...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan for Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for episodes of “The Nick & Nolan Show” weekly on the Buffalo Rumblings Podcast Network!