Brady and the Patriots Teach the Bills: The Sounds of Silence

via www.musketfire.com
via http://www.musketfire.com

As the New England Patriots headed towards their showdown with Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills last Sunday many in Buffalo felt their time had come for success. In the early 90’s the Buffalo Bills headed to four straight Super Bowls with quarterback Jim Kelly under center and four straight times they came out with the losers share of the purse. The drama and storylines leading up to last Sunday’s match up had an aggressive and motivated Buffalo juggernaut ready and willing to treat the Super Bowl champions much the same as the Bills had treated AFC finalists, the Indianapolis Colts.

Fans filed into Orchard Park ready to cheer on the new and improved Buffalo Bills. Rex had been fanning the flames all week and the Buffalo faithful were  engulfed in the inferno. Coach Ryan, not new to feeding into his own bluster, even contacted the Guinness Book of World Records in anticipation for breaking the stadium sound record currently held by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Buffalo fans known collectively as the “Bills Mafia” waited with baited breath for the opening kickoff, the Bills to their credit did not disappoint…. initially.

Led by Lesean McCoy’s feet, the Bills made a statement blowing through New England’s defense in 7 plays and scoring a touchdown in their opening drive. The crowd in Orchard Park we’re ecstatic and as Brady and the New England offense took the field they allowed them no reprieve forcing New England to take a time out as the noise level was too overbearing. After a fairly quick three and out by the Patriots both the fans and the Bills themselves were overcome with joy and jubulation. All the speculation, all the heavy talk from Ryan and the Buffalo Bills was bringing victory to their doorstep. Sadly for Buffalo, football games are rarely won on the opening drive.

The New England Patriots spent the rest of the game doing whatever they could to not only quiet the masses but send a very distinct message to Rex Ryan,the Buffalo Bills and possibly the entire league.
That message was Brady throwing on the vaunted Buffalo defense 59 times for a total of 466 yards and three touchdowns. Bill Belichick’s offense attempted more 4th down conversions than they ever should have allowing Buffalo to get back into the game by the fourth quarter. New England’s willingness to attempt 4th down plays  aside, the game was never as close as the final score of 40 – 32 indicated.

Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills lost to New England due to superior coaching and an offense looking to make a point. New England’s point is that they do their talking on the field. Rex’s team spent the week leading up to Sunday’s game flapping their gums and wearing their emotions on their sleeves. Emotions can be a positive in the game of football but these particular emotions left unfiltered earned the Buffalo Bills a grand total of 14 penalties.

Amongst accusations that the “Bills Mafia” have brought whistles to the game in order to distract the Patriots when on the field, it looks as though the Bills themselves may have been doing something their opponents are often accused of: cheating. The Buffalo Bills often use a loud train horn because, well they are the Bills and when you think Buffalo you naturally think trains. Regardless of why Buffalo uses this very loud horn they may have done so illegally during multiple moments when New England was engaged in there hurry up offense. All game tapes are turned in by Wednesday so that matter and the Bills’ consequent punishment, if found guilty, will be dealt with then. It’s interesting to point out that the loud horn was just one more noisy situation to affect Buffalo adversely.

Ultimately, the Bills lost a lot of their swagger and eventually the game on Sunday. Is this the continuation of the Tom Brady Revenge tour or have the Bills finally learned what the Jets have known for years: Rex Ryan just needs to keep his mouth shut and coach some damn football.

NFL Week Two Power Rankings

Meaningful football is back, and watching Tom Brady and Company assassinate the rest of the NFL has been a pleasure to watch thus far. The Patriots took the quick flight up to that cesspool of a stadium in Buffalo and slapped Rex Ryan and the big mouth Bills around in their own backyard. I liken it to having a play-date and there is that one punk child who steals the good toys and sucker punches the other kids. Those are my 2015 Patriots. I’m proud of it and hope Brady continues to step on the nuts of every team in front of him. I’m hoping him and Bill go into “Eff You Mode” until we show up in Santa Clara for our fifth Lombardi trophy. Sure, there are plenty of other story lines to chat about, but everyone made Brady, the Patriots, and the evil empire in Foxboro the focal point of the off-season. So now that real football is here, we’ll continue to harp on them and every homicide they commit on field each week.

1) New England Patriots – The defending champs have dismantled both teams they played and won Super Bowl 49 ½ up in Buffalo this past weekend. Brady is pissed and they have Blake Bortles, a bye week and Brandon Weeden before we invade the Drug Den in Indianapolis.

2) Green Bay Packers – The Denim King trolled Mr. Ciara last night and it was fantastic. I still believe Olivia Munn is strapping it on behind closed doors, but the Packers (no pun intended) are the class of the NFC.

3) Denver Broncos – The sooner Gary Kubiak figures out that The Forehead is 38 years old and has a tough time under center, the better off the Broncos will be. Their defense is going to win them more games than the offense this year.

4) Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer is healthy, but questions remain at the running back position. Also, can the defense live up to the hype?

5) Dallas Cowboys – Dez and Tony Underwood-Simpson are both gone for the foreseeable future. Can Dallas’ defense allow them to tread water in maybe the worst division in football?

6) Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati has looked pretty damn impressive thus far. Andy Dalton beat a tough Chargers team at home on Sunday. They need more out of their safeties to make any noise in the AFC.

7) Pittsburgh Steelers – Remember that scary Pittsburgh offense I’ve been talking about all offseason? It showed up at home against San Fran. Can the defense take the next step? Time will tell.

8) Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid went back to being Andy Reid last week. The Chiefs road doesn’t get any easier playing in Green Bay next Monday night.

9) Seattle Seahawks – Mr. Ciara still runs around like a kid whom hasn’t taken his medication, and the Hawks have lost three straight going back to the Super Bowl.

10) Atlanta Falcons – Dan Quinn has his defense making stops late in games that last year’s team wouldn’t dream of. Julio Jones may be the best WR in the game as well.

11) Indianapolis Colts – 10/18. Plain and simple. The Neck Beard is leading the league in turnovers since the start of last season. #PrayForIndy

12) Philadelphia Eagles – Sam Bradford looked like a deer in headlights after every down on Sunday. Will Chip realize that Murray is better suited running when the QB is under center?

13) New Jersey Jets – The Jets are the most surprising team in the NFL and Revis has been an absolute monster for them thus far.

14) San Diego Chargers – Phillip Rivers broke the franchise record for touchdowns on Sunday. He also forgot Keenen Allen existed after a fifteen catch performance the week before.

15) Buffalo Bills – 4-10 against BB and TB12. They lost Super Bowl 49 ½ to the Patriots at home on Sunday. That is all you need to know about Buffalo.

16) Baltimore Ravens – Nothing pleases me more to see a Harbaugh brother losing on the road in back to back weeks.

17) Miami Dolphins – Two games into the biggest contract in franchise history, Suh has decided he doesn’t need to listen to the plays his coach is calling.

18) Minnesota Vikings – AP hasn’t found the end zone, but the Vikings are 1-1. Maybe someone should break out the switch and start whacking him with it.

19) St. Louis Rams – How on earth do you beat the Seahawks and lose to the Redskins led by Kurt Bleeping Cousins?

20) New Jersey Giants – Elijah better right the ship, and fast. They have a short week up ahead with a Redskins team coming to town with nothing to lose.

21) Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton very easily could have broken his neck on his little summersault technique into the end zone. I don’t wish injuries on anyone, but I can’t stand that clown.

22) Detroit Lions – Fat Face is inconsistent. The defensive backfield looks like the Little Giants. They are undisciplined and poorly coached. Does this sound familiar Lions fans?

23) Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr is legit. Mr.Cooper is just as legit. If the Raiders got a little more help on the back end of the defense, they’d be right there in the AFC West.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville’s honeymoon will be cut short in a few days when they head to Foxboro.

25) Cleveland Browns – Johnny Football earned the starting role last week. Cleveland should keep the momentum going with the Raiders coming to down.

26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – King Crab beat Drew Brees in his own building. That single handedly murdered anyone’s chances of winning their suicide pool.

27) Houston Texans – I’ve picked Houston to contend in the AFC South. They are in last place after two weeks.

28) Tennessee Titans – After Mariota won AFC Offensive Player of the Week (which Brady got screwed over for) he went and got sacked a half dozen times and turned the ball over in Cleveland.

29) Washington Redskins – RG3 has been inactive for the first two games of the season. Life is good.

30) San Francisco 49ers – Ebola Head has played well in his first two games, but the defense can’t keep up their end of the bargain.

31) New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees looks old and lost without his security blanket, Ginger Graham.

32) Chicago Bears – Sour Puss went down with an injury and Alshon Jeffery can’t seem to get healthy. Oh, and they let up a franchise record in points.

Week 2 recap: 5 things we learned

Week two of the NFL is in the books. This week was more shocking than others, even if it is only week two. Regardless, we learned more about who’s a contender, who’s a pretender, and even a possible MVP candidate. So, here are the five things we learned from week two of the regular season.

1) Tom Brady is the MVP frontrunner

After a stellar week one performance by Tom Brady, he put up even more video game numbers as he led the New England Patriots to a 40-32 win over the Buffalo Bills.  Brady went 38/59 for 466 yards and three touchdown passes. Also he put up history, as he is the first quarterback to throw at least 55 passes, 450 yards and three touchdowns in one game. On the season, Tom Brady has thrown for 754 yards and seven touchdown passes with no interceptions. At this rate, Brady is on pace for 6,032 yards and 56 touchdowns. Tom Brady is putting up an MVP season, and looks unstoppable

2) The Colts and Eagles are overrated 

Both the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles are overrated. They both stand at 0-2 records, and no one predicted or saw this coming. The Colts were dubbed as Super Bowl contenders and an easy pick to win it all. Well, they should not be. Their offense has not generated points or gone anywhere, and Andrew Luck is throwing interceptions like Christmas. This offense was supposed to be dominating, but after being shut down by the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, they are essentially flat. Plus, the Colts defense is terrible, and should not be a surprise after we saw Tom Brady and the Patriots carve up the Colts in the AFC Championship game 45-7. In Philadelphia, the Eagles got what they deserved. Chip Kelly was given power over his players, and traded away talent for players he wanted. Was it worth it? Sam Bradford was just preseason hype, and Demarco Murray is not running around putting up video game numbers. The O-line can not block and give Bradford time to throw or give Murray room to run. Also, their offense had eight possessions that lasted fewer than two minutes in their game against the Cowboys, that did not end up in points. The Colts and Eagles were heralded as the best and prime contenders for the Super Bowl, well now they are just exposed as overrated, and righfully so.

3) On the other hand, Don’t worry about Seattle being 0-2 

Right after I talked about two 0-2 teams being overrated, I talk about another 0-2 team. Though it is a surprise that the Seattle Seahawks are 0-2, there is good reason.  The defense is not the same without Kam Chancellor, and the offense needs to put up more points. Though it seems that the world is falling in Seattle, they shouldn’t be worried. Last season, the Seahawks started 3-3, and finished 12-4 and ended up in the Super Bowl.

4) New Orleans is going to struggle 

The New Orleans Saints have controlled the NFC South for many years. However, this year, is not that year. After dropping losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints sit at 0-2. Drew Brees does not look the same without Jimmy Graham, and the offense is struggling without him. What was a high flying offense putting up huge numbers, is stuck scoring only 19 points a game. Adding on, the defense has struggled in stopping teams from scoring. What makes matters worse is that Drew Brees could miss games due to a rotator cuff injury. That means that Luke McCown or rookie Garrett Grayson will have to go under center if Brees does miss games. It’s going to be a tough year for the Saints, but it could be worse.

5) Maybe Kirk Cousins is actually capable of leading the Washington offense

Who knew, Kirk Cousins could actually manage the Washington Redskins offense. In week one, he went 21/31 for 196 yards with one touchdown, but two interceptions. He pretty much led a dysfunctional Redskins team to a near win over the Miami Dolphins. Then this week, he led them to a 24-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams, as he went 23/27 for 203 yards and one touchdown. Even though the RGIII drama is still alive and well in Washington, Cousins is doing his job and trying to lead his team to victory. At 1-1, Cousins has the Redskins looking like they are contenders in the NFC East behind the 2-0 Dallas Cowboys. They could contend for the division title especially since Dallas has lost Tony Romo for at least seven games, Philadelphia is in disarray, and the Giants are busy blowing leads away. However, time will tell if Cousins will take advantage and push Washington to take the division lean, especially since everything looks to be in their favor.

 

Patriots Defensive Recap vs Buffalo: A Long Day For Tyrod Taylor

One of the biggest keys entering Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills was for the Patriots to contain and limit Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Patriots ended up doing this and one of the biggest reasons for this was Chandler Jones, who had a great game recording three sacks on the day.

via www.musketfire.com
via http://www.musketfire.com

Entering the game I said Tyrod Taylor would give the Patriots defense problems due to his mobility, he did do this at times but New England’s defense was able to transition throughout the game and limit Taylor’s effectiveness. On the day Taylor was 23 of 30 passing the ball for 242 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also added 43 rushing yards on five carries with a touchdown. Taylor had a decent game and the numbers make it look better than he performed, besides the three interceptions and a strong comeback performance towards the end of the game when the Patriots began to struggle. The first drive of the game for Buffalo was a strong one, driving down the field and scoring a touchdown. New England defense then stepped up for majority of the game shutting down Buffalo’s offense.

Two key players were defensive end Chandler Jones, and linebacker Jamie Collins. Both recorded multiple sacks on Taylor (Jones 3, Collins 2.5), and also set the outside edge, which stopped Taylor from being able to scramble to the outside and break off large gains. Another player who played well defensively for New England was cornerback Malcolm Butler. This is nothing new to hear for Patriots fans, Butler has been making headlines with his play over the past few months and is looking like he can be a number one corner in the NFL. Butler made a great play off a tipped pass to make his first career regular season interception.

via www.cbssports.com
via http://www.cbssports.com

With the good of the Patriots defense against the Bills there was also some bad. The team gave up 160 yards on the ground. Stopping the run has been a problem for the Patriots over the past few seasons and has been so far this year against both the Bills and the Steelers. Another problem was the team allowed Tyrod Taylor to complete 76.7 percent of his passes. Elite quarterbacks will take more advantage of that than Taylor did, though he performed well besides the three interceptions. Part of the defensive struggles are due to the offense, who struggled in the second half including two failed fourth down conversions, which gave Buffalo good field position on both occasions.

Overall it wasn’t a great defensive performance from the Patriots but it definitely was not terrible. There are things they did really well and some things they need to improve on over the next few weeks. What I can say though is at this point in the season the Patriots look like the best team in the NFL, and it isn’t that close.

Catching Up With Three-Time Super Bowl Champion Matt Chatham

On Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with former New England Patriots and New York Jets linebacker Matt Chatham. He was apart of three Super Bowl winning teams in his time with the Patriots between the years of 2000 through 2005. After that he spent three seasons with the Jets. Since his retirement from the game, Chatham has been in the local New England and national media, along with founding his own football website, “Football By Football” which has a unique perspective of showing fans former players points of view. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

When most people talk to former players, they usually ask what have you been up to? But for you, you’ve been around in the media, so what is it like being on the other side of things? 

Well, theres the temptation to think you could be out there, you could help. I think in my case, guys like me where I got banged up at the end of my career, I was released with a neck injury, my feet are trash, now i’m how ever many years removed from that, and it’s pretty much easier to understand your place as a fan and a reporter.

What was your inspiration for starting your own website?

Well, the first move I made when I left the NFL in 2009 was to go back to school here at Babson College in Wellesly, I had the idea of starting something on my own. I got involved in some other business things immediately after my career, but after a couple years of doing that I got lured right back into football. It’s kind of what you do, it’s what you know. Once I got involved I started doing the Chatter Report with the Boston Herald, and that was great and I got back into the waters of writing, which is what I studied in my undergrad so I knew I wanted to write at some capacity. Things came together. I wanted to write, I wanted to still be around football, and I wanted to do my own thing, thats how I am with a lot of aspects of life. I started contacting those former players and they bought in when they realized that the player perspective is barely out there in print.

Your a part of all different aspects of the media whether it is writing, commentating, and color analysis. What is you favorite part of the media?

Thats an interesting question cause if we had this conversation three or four years ago I would’ve said writing. I would just rather sit in solitude and study the crap out of game tape and give points of view that people who never played the game wouldn’t have the experience to notice. I really enjoyed that part. I really enjoy doing games now for ESPN, I did Syracuse a few weeks ago, and I do a lot of local stuff, UConn, Umass, and Boston College throughout the rest of the season. I like that view, you kind of get the chance to do the same thing, you gotta do it in real time so your not gonna be as accurate, so I enjoy doing that part.

Let’s talk about your playing career here, you don’t see dynasties like the one you were a part of with the Patriots too often in the salary cap era. What do you think made you guys click so well?

It’s interesting we are having this conversation now, because I just did a piece on NESN the other night talking about all the former Patriots eligible for the Hall of Fame, and chances are, none of them get in. The groups that I played with, the roster was just stock full of super talented guys that bought into the team system. Most of those guys from the Harrison, to Milloy, McGinest, Bruschi, and Ty Law we played a heavy week to week scheme where no one player stood out and compiled a bunch of stats, that’s just not the way we played. The best part of that group was how talented they were, but how selfless they were as well. Thats how we got the rings we got, and you just can’t take that stuff away.

Boston.com
Boston.com

We know that the NFL is a business, and after 2005 you joined the New York Jets. What was it like playing on the other side of the rivalry?

Going down there for a few years it was definitely different as it was for all the former Patriots that went down there as well. It’s a pretty heated rivalry for fans and they look at it from that perspective, but when you go back and look the list is long of the players that went from one place to the other. Otis Smith, Larry Izzo, Bobby Hamilton, Anthony Pleasant, Bryan Cox, I could go on and on. I went down there with Eric Mangini which made it different. For me I was wearing green that was different, I was playing in a different building, living in a different city. The organization had a similar feel because Eric Mangini was trying to recreate the Patriot system. He wasn’t successful, but the structure was almost identical. Just the way we did things was almost the same, so just for me it wasn’t that big of a change.

You were on the Jets during the infamous spy gate game in 2007. Everyone hears stuff from the Patriots perspective from that game, what was it like on the other side lines during that game?

Well, I was on PUP to start that season I had injured my ankle so I was just in street clothes on the sidelines. It was chaotic. I was on the sideline staring across. To put it on a scale on how much it mattered or how much it cared, I was like, “oh thats weird.” I didn’t know the rule, I guess you couldn’t just do it right there. So yes, it was a stressful week. The real reason why it escalated and why it was such as story was because the two security units got in a pretty heavy argument outside the locker rooms at the Meadow Lands. It became more than it should have. The brand is pretty stupid. Spy gate? They weren’t really spying. You can stand there with a pen and pencil and do the same thing. So to see the way league handled it the way they did, shows you how much they have it out for the team.

You’ve been one of the more vocal players, along with Tedy Brushchi and Rodney Harrision, other guys in the media from that era, defending the team when allegations come down. How does it make you feel when people make these assumptions that the championships you guys worked so hard for are tainted? 

I think what happens, this is sort of all walks of life. You know when some guy says, “Twenty-years ago in high school if coach played me and we would’ve won.” it’s just an excuse, and it’s sad because people who lost are falling into the trap and making the excuse. It’s like no man, you lost. We prepared more and performed better than you did. Nothing that the team did was illegal in any way, except the taping thing that didn’t really matter. We are past that point now to where you can change someone’s mind, you just have to deal with it.

boston.cbslocal.com
boston.cbslocal.com
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Linebacker Matt Chatham #58 of the New England Patriots celebrates against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Boston.cbslocal.com

Final question here. What was your favorite moment as a professional football player?

I mean I’m lucky I got to play in three Super Bowls. You remember that elation of when the clock hits zero, and they were all different. The Rams with the kick going through is something I’ll never feel again for the rest if my life. The second one I made the final tackle on the kick return with Steve Smith and Rod Smart, so that time I felt the elation holding the guy to the ground. The third one we were more able to enjoy it as the clock ran out. It’s not a feeling you can really describe, you kind of just have to experience it.

You can follow Matt Chatham on twitter @chatham58 Also visit his website with great articles and podcasts with insight from former players at  http://www.footballbyfootball.com

New England Patriots: Don’t Piss Off Tom Brady

Can Rex Ryan Back-Up His Bluster

That question was answered with a resounding NO Sunday afternoon as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and a host of others destroyed the Buffalo Bills “vaunted” defense, 40-32.  Don’t be deceived by the final score, this wasn’t that close. The Bills scored 19 points in the 4th quarter, long after the winner had already been determined.

Rex-Ryan - Who me? What bluster! (Photo meetthematts.com)
Who me? What bluster! (Photo meetthematts.com)

The Bills scored on their first possession and the Buffalo fans were in heaven. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and many had left the stadium before they got a chance to get loud again. They may have pulled the comeback off if they were playing the NY Giants (sorry Giants fans. I hate to kick you when you’re down…) but nope, they were up against an angry (although they’ll never admit it) Tom Brady & Bill Belichick. Only one team in NFL history has come back from a 24 point fourth quarter deficit.

New England: What Went Right

I’m not sure where to start, but how about this…

  • Tom Brady was so good even ESPN had to admit it. No snide remarks about deflated footballs by anyone after this one was over.

If that wasn’t enough, how about this from Sports Center

Nuff said! Lesson learned? Don’t piss-off Tom Brady! He’s playing like he has something to prove after all the off-season slander he put up with. Bet it will be a little tense if Commissioner Roger Goodell is forced to actually attend a Patriot game this year…or, better yet, give Brady another MVP Trophy.

  • Rob Gronkowski was, once again, unstoppable. It’s hard to believe, but so far he’s been better than ever. Check this out from old friend Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal

  • The question of who will replace Shane Vereen (who?) has been answered with an unknown running back who no one wanted…and he isn’t named Gray. I know it’s only two games, and he has fumbled twice (lost one), but Dion Lewis (remember that name Rex Ryan) has been outstanding. Belichick had enough confidence in him that he put him right back in the offense after his fumble. That doesn’t happen very often, just ask former Patriot Stevan Ridley.
New England Patriots' Dion Lewis, right, celebrates with Rob Gronkowski (87) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half against the Bills, (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
New England Patriots’ Dion Lewis, right, celebrates with Rob Gronkowski (87) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half against the Bills  (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Lewis (that’s L-E-W-I-S Mr. Ryan) had 40 yards rushing and a TD on just 7 carries. You’re right, that’s OK, but nothing to rave about. How about this then, 6 receptions for 98 yards. Combine the two and you get 13 touches for 138 total yards. If you aren’t good at math Rex, that’s 10.6 yards per touch. Anyone think Ryan will remember his name when the two teams meet again in November at Gillette Stadium on Thursday Night Football (ESPN)?

I could go on and on about the offense, including the emergence of Aaron Dobson (7 receptions for 87 yards, one drop), THE catch of the day by Danny Amendola to seal the victory and the continued success of Julian Edelman (11 reception, 97 yards, 2 TDs), but the biggest surprise of the game was (drum roll please):

  • The Offensive Line. People needlessly worried about Tom Brady’s life/health coming into this game against Buffalo’s feared pass rush. Brady’s quick release certainly helped, but the youngsters held up just fine, allowing only two sacks…and that was without Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell.  Can we all please stop holding our breath every time TB drops back to pass?

Yes, the defense gave up 32 points, but it actually was very good. Remember, 19 of those points were in garbage time, just as the 7 they gave up to Pittsburgh in the final seconds of game one.  As is usually the case, when you give up that many points, people will point out your deficiencies. Well, how about these positives:

  • 8 sacks against a very mobile Tyrod Taylor, who, fortunately, escaped without injury

    Taylor sacked again by Chandler Jones (photo: Keith Nordstrom NewEnglandPatriots.com)
    Taylor sacked again by Chandler Jones (photo: Keith Nordstrom NewEnglandPatriots.com)
  • 3 Interceptions (Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon)
  • Held Buffalo to 3 for 13 (30%) on 3rd down
  • 3 sacks from an unstoppable Chandler Jones & 2.5 for Jamie Collins
  • Kept Sammy Watkins to 6 receptions for 60 yards and 1 TD

New England: What Went Wrong

  • Patriots’ had 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 41 yard line in the 4th quarter and went for it. Going for it actually wasn’t a bad decision, but getting greedy and throwing an incomplete long pass to a covered Dion Lewis was not among the smartest things to do.
  • Brady was strip-sacked and the Bills scored in 15 seconds to make it 37-32 late in the game
  • The run defense continues to be soft. Despite trailing, Buffalo ran the ball 27 times for 160 net yards (almost 6 yards per carry).
  • Yes, they sacked and pressured Taylor the whole game, but he completed 23 of 30 passes and 3 TDs. Big lead or not, garbage time or not…that’s not very good. They did contain his scrambles (5 for 43 yds, 1 TD) fairly well, but still need the secondary to step up. Three int’s was nice, completion percentage was not.

Moving On

It’s still a long season and, with 14 regular season games to go, anything can happen. The AFC East came back to earth with Buffalo’s loss and Miami falling to Jacksonville (you know that hurt). The Jets (2-0) kept pace with New England by beating the highly overrated Colts (0-2) Monday night.

The Patriots return to Gillette Stadium against the surprising (1-1) Jaguars Sunday. Bill Belichick doesn’t allow his players to enjoy wins for very long, but it will be hard for his team to “get-up” for Jacksonville after their dominance in Buffalo.  It’s still the NFL and On Any Sunday…..”

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: It Will Be A Game of Gronk

image: bostonglobe.com
image: bostonglobe.com

The Buffalo Bills thrashed, embarrassed and eviscerated the Indianapolis Colts on September 13th, 2015. Andrew Luck looked like a shell of the potential Hall Of Famer so many in the media have anointed him as. Luck tried desperately to turn the tide but his last ditch efforts in the latter part of the game were to no avail. The Buffalo Bills are no longer a joke and if they have their way, the Indianapolis Colts will be just one of many to fall by their sword.

Rex Ryan is exactly the hero Buffalo needs right now. After years of being a bottom dweller in the often considered weakest division in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills have a swagger about them that some say is necessary if undeserved.  With the likes of Percy Harvin, Lesean McCoy and a top rated defense, the Bills look to be a legitimate force. Rex Ryan, an outcast in his own right, is doing all he can to build his team up and allow them to echo his sentiments. Rex wants revenge for being ousted by New York and embarrassed year in and year out by not just his division, but many teams in the league. Next step on Ryan’s agenda, the decimation of his chief rival, the “hated” New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots have never particularly shown any weakness in regards to Rex Ryan or the Buffalo Bills for that matter. The Belichick/ Brady era of New England has shown that they are fully capable of taking down whatever Buffalo has thrown their way. Rex Ryan and at the time The New York Jets, showed that when a bag of tricks is used properly success can be had but ultimately the victories were few and far between. In his glory, Rex finally has the assets to combine with his defensive expertise. Are the New England Patriots truly in trouble of losing to this abomination of talent?

There is a popular television show on HBO called “Game of Thrones”. On the program, royalty often appoints a champion, someone to stand in their place in order to uphold their wishes during a fight. The royal family on “Game of Thrones” often employs a giant man known as “The Mountain” to defeat their adversaries. The New England Patriots have such a champion, a man who could be considered a mountain in his own right. His name is Rob Gronkowski, but around these parts we simply call him Gronk.

462751610-patriots-tight-end-rob-gronkowski-yells-to-gettyimages

Gronk is an unstoppable pass catching tight end that excels at blocking as well, a rare beast in today’s NFL.  Gronk is such a mismatch for most offensive coordinators that even when a team attempts double coverage Gronk often eludes his opposition. Future Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady, as talented as he is, cannot be in two places at once, nor should he need to be in order to have success.  Gronk is like a time bomb which allows Brady the opportunity to keep the defense guessing when exactly he will blow up. Such an intricate piece to the New England Patriot puzzle is Gronk, that during past seasons when he was out of action due to injury, the Patriots just were not the same dominant team.

461529290-rex-ryan-speaks-at-a-press-conference-gettyimages

Now, to give the devil his due, Rex Ryan has been one of the few head coaches to have slowed down the Brady/Gronk tandem. Ryan knows the Patriots like no other coach which is what makes him such a dangerous competitor when armed properly. By rushing Tom Brady often and knocking him around a bit, it causes the four-time Super Bowl Champion to feel exceedingly pressured to release the football as quick as possible. Gronk is strong, Gronk is fast but at 6-foot-6, and 265 pounds you can only get so far down the field so fast.  It takes many men to make an offense run at optimal level, the young offensive line need to do their part in keeping Tom Brady safe. If Brady is kept on his feet, the Quarterback can find Gronkowski with ease.

Rex Ryan answered comically but truthfully when asked how he planned to cover Gronk. “We’re not going to ask one guy to cover him,” Ryan said “Yeah, he’d have to look like King Kong.” Rest easy though Pats fans, if Rex does in fact double team Gronkowski, New England has another Tight End that can hopefully fill in admirably in the red zone, Scott Chandler. In no uncertain terms should wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola be over looked in this offense, but let’s be realistic, without Rob Gronkowski, their jobs become that much harder to perform.

Sunday will of course be a very interesting tale of football. Will Rex Ryan finally put forth a dominant display of offensive/defensive strategy against the New England Patriots, echoing his week one victory and cementing the Buffalo Bills as a legitimate AFC rival? Or will Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots continue to ride Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to AFC domination?

2015 NFL Season: Week 2 Picks

We are now out of the least meaningful week in the NFL season. Hurray! I went 9-6-1 against the spread last week, and admittedly botched a couple games badly. My biggest advice to you is this: don’t be that guy that overreacts to Week 1. Remember, the Patriots, Packers, Colts, Cowboys, and Ravens all lost in Week 1 last year, and all five of those teams made the playoffs. There are a few things I was very wrong on though, and I will go into those. Let’s start with last night.

Last week I wrote to pick the Broncos in every game the first half of the season and pick against them in every game the second half of the season. I went against my own rule last night, picking the Chiefs (-3), and of course got burned. But I stand by that pick. Look, everybody is going to make all the excuses they possibly can for Peyton Manning. I applaud Jim Nantz and Phil Simms for figuring out a way to blame everything possible for Peyton Manning’s struggles besides Peyton Manning. It’s his new offense, it’s the offensive line, it’s the play calling, it’s the blitzes by the Chiefs, blah, blah, blah. I love Peyton, I think he’s a great dude and a top 3 quarterback of all time. But it’s done. He can’t put a whole game together right now, let alone a whole season. Yes, give him credit for getting through that game last night. But let’s be honest, he had two good drives. When his first read was open, and he got rid of the ball in two seconds or less, he was fine. He looked a little bit like the old Peyton. But if the pass rush was able to even get close to him, he missed the throw, usually badly. Sometimes he had time, and still floated a throw five yards away from his receiver. His arm has never been great, now it’s below average.

Give credit to an incredible Bronco defense, and say thank you to the Chiefs for playing so terribly. It’s not just that they had five turnovers, it’s that every one of those turnovers seemed to come at the worst time. Jamaal Charles fumbled inside the ten, costing them a field goal. Alex Smith’s first interception pretty much gave Denver a touchdown. His second interception came when they were driving down the field. And then of course there was the Charles fumble returned for the winning touchdown with under a minute left. The only non-costly turnover was the fumbled punt, which gave the Broncos the ball around the 30, and they missed a 4th and 1 instead of kicking a field goal. I’m going to hurt my head if I keep writing about this, so let’s just go to this week’s picks. Home teams are in all caps.

Houston (+3) over PANTHERS

The Panthers won last week because they played the Jaguars. The Jaguars scored nine points, because that’s what they do. The Texans certainly have some huge quarterback issues right now, and I think eventually they’ll settle on the more talented Ryan Mallett. They need to get that quarterback situation figured out, because J.J. Watt looks a little less terrifying when he’s down by 20 points. The Panthers offense struggled last week, they will again against a great Texans defense. This one’s easy.

STEELERS (-6) over 49ers

Can there be a less impressive 20-3 win than what the 49ers had late Monday night? I’ll be honest, that second Monday night game on opening weekend is always one of the worst games of the year. The Vikings offense was horrible, and San Francisco couldn’t move the ball consistently. I still think the Steelers are going to be really good. They didn’t play well against the Patriots, but a lot of people don’t. Big Ben still won’t have Bryant or Bell this week, but he’ll have a lot more success against the 49ers than Teddy Bridgewater did. Don’t forget, Pittsburgh moved the ball pretty well between the 20s in New England, they just couldn’t finish drives. They will this week.

Buccaneers (+10) over SAINTS

I know Jameis Winston and his offense looked terrible last week, and the Tampa defense gave up 4 touchdowns to Mariota in his first career game, but a 10 point spread is too much for me in an NFL game. The Bucs should get Mike Evans back this week, and that’s huge for a rookie quarterback. The Saints will move the ball well, but they weren’t great against the Cardinals, and I don’t expect them to cover.

Lions (+2.5) over VIKINGS

Forget everything I said about the Vikings last week. They still have a lot to improve on. Carlos Hyde ran all over them. Bridgewater was horrible against what was essentially a brand new defense. They couldn’t move the ball at all. The Lions had a pretty big collapse in San Diego, look for them to be motivated playing a Vikings team on a short week and I expect them to win rather handily.

Cardinals (-2) over BEARS

I’m really only giving the Bears two points in this game? Ok. The Packers beat them by eight and they didn’t play well. Arizona always flies under the radar, and if their spreads are going to be this low all year, keep betting on them. Other than a running game, they have all the pieces. Give me the Cardinals going away in this one.

Patriots (-1) over BILLS

Do not, I repeat, do not overreact to week 1 from the Bills. Remember, Tyrod Taylor is their quarterback. I repeat, Tyrod Taylor is their quarterback. Now, give them some credit. They probably have the best defensive personnel in the NFL, and now they have one of the best defensive coaches in the league. But seriously, Tyrod Taylor is their quarterback. It’ll be interesting to see what Rex comes up with to cover Gronk, that’ll be the big difference between the Pats and Colts. Also, Rex probably has them thinking they’re going to win the Super Bowl after one week, so they’ll be in for a let down. Once again, don’t be that guy that overreacts to week 1.

Chargers (+3) over BENGALS

I feel a little weird picking all of these road teams, but I’m not going to put a ton of stock into what the Bengals did last week. The Chargers were impressive in their comeback last week. Like I said, I’m expecting Philip Rivers to have a big year, he’s extremely motivated after all the rumors that swirled around him this offseason. Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon are rising stars. Give me San Diego in this one.

BROWNS (+1) over Titans

Mariota is definitely due for a letdown this week. After being that good in his debut, he can only go down from here. Give him a full season, maybe two or three before we crown him as the savior. Yes, I’m picking the Browns this week. What am I doing? I’ll take the home team getting points, yes, even if it’s the Browns.

GIANTS (-2.5) over Falcons

Despite how horribly they botched the 1st and goal from the one last Sunday, I think the Giants showed some good things. That defense can be good, they have a very good tandem of corners in DRC and Prince Amukamara. The Falcons were good, but they still were a missed field goal from blowing that game. I’ll take the Giants at home with Atlanta coming off a short week.

Rams (-3.5) over REDSKINS

I’m pretty nervous with this one, it seems way too obvious. I feel like a lot of people are going to jump on the Ram’s bandwagon after last week, and I don’t feel good about putting a lot of faith in Nick Foles. But the Redskins are not good. a 17-10 home loss was impressive for them. Their quarterback situation is a mess, the RG3 soap opera is still hanging around them, and I don’t think Jay Gruden is going to be a very good coach. I’ll take the Rams to cover, but expect it to be low scoring.

Dolphins (-6) over JAGUARS

I might end up picking against the Jaguars every game this year. Seriously, what is there to like? Blake Bortles is not good. Julius Thomas is already wasting away in this offense. There’s no offensive line or running game to speak of. The defense is nothing special. What am I supposed to like? The Dolphins should bounce back after struggling with the Redskins. And might I point out that despite struggling, they still covered. They’ll cover easily in this one.

RAIDERS (+6.5) over Ravens

I’m crazy for picking this, but I’m not going to jump ship on the Raiders after one week. The Ravens offensive line is horrible right now. I know they were facing a terrific pass rush in Denver, and an underrated defensive tackle in Malik Jackson, but they couldn’t run the ball to save their lives. The only time they moved the ball down field at all was their final drive running the two-minute drill. The Raiders will be ok. They still have a ways to go, but give them some time before you say they are as bad as they usually are. I’ll give them this one at home with the Ravens making the cross-country flight.

EAGLES (-5) over Cowboys

This line is a little big for me, but I really like the Eagles in this one. Their offense will be explosive. I think after reviewing the film Chip Kelly will realize he needs to run the ball more, and they’ll do really well with that. Sam Bradford found his groove in the 2nd half and looked really good when he did. Their secondary looked bad, but should gain some confidence against a depleted Dallas receiving core. As much as I love the Cowboy’s offensive line, their running game was not good last Sunday. I’ll take the Eagles to cover at home here.

PACKERS (-3.5) over Seahawks

This is a tough one to pick, but Green Bay is playing really well right now. The Seahawks’ offensive line didn’t look very good against St. Louis. Russell Wilson had no time to let deep routes develop. The absence of Kam Chancellor matters, don’t kid yourself. Aaron Rodgers walked right into Seattle in the NFC Championship last year and should’ve beat them on one leg. I’ll take the Packers right now in Lambeau.

COLTS (-7) over Jets

Yes the Jets were good on Sunday, but yes it was against the Browns. This Colts offense should get right back on track. Remember, they were playing at Buffalo, against the best defense in the league. That’s right Seattle, the Bills are the best defense in the league, at the moment. I expect Andrew Luck to get back on track, and I don’t see any reason the Jets should score enough points to cover.

If you’re a college football fan or just a degenerate gambler who will bet on anything, I’m in a weekly college football pick ’em. My picks for this week are: Louisiana Tech (+9), Ole Miss (+6.5), Purdue (+6), Cal (-6), TCU (-37.5), Colorado State, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska straight up.

For more useless sports banter, follow me on Twitter @rory_maccallum

NFL Record: 9-7-1

College Football Record: 5-3-0

New England Patriots: Is The “New” AFC East To Be Feared?

For the last few seasons in the NFL the AFC East has been the New England Patriots and a bunch of other guys.  Right now they are the only NFL conference without a loss. Yup, 4-0 while beating some formidable foes to get things started.  Many were predicting the Steelers were back, but the Patriots took care of that notion. The Colts had Luck on their side, but that was all as the rejuvenated Bills put them in their place.

The Dolphins didn’t exactly impress in their 17-10 win over the clueless Washington Redskins and the Jets…well, they destroying the Browns, who haven’t won an opener in about 320 years!  Both still have a lot to prove to the skeptics.

Last year the Jets (Raiders), Bills (Bears) & Fins won their openers while the Pats lost (to Miami). One of the few times the Patriots have been on the bottom of the pack!

After game one in 2014
After game one in 2014

While the NFC South has been an embarrassment, the teams in the AFC East have slid under the radar.  2015 could be different! While the beasts in the east are nowhere near the NFC West (Seattle, St.Louis, Arizona & SF), Miami, NY & Buffalo have all taken a step up, while the Patriots remain the favorite.

Strength Of Schedule

Here’s where I throw out a bunch of mean nothing statistics. You can browse over this paragraph in the reading room when you have nothing else to do (well, you’ve got something to do, but you know what I mean). It can certainly be misleading, but, based on strength of schedule, courtesy of CBSSports.com,  the Patriots (#22*), Buffalo (#19*), Jets (#18*) and Miami (#17*) all have relatively easy schedules. (* represents strength of schedule with #1 [Pittsburgh] hardest and #32 [Atlanta] easiest) Yes, they do play each other twice so, theoretically, with the division stronger it could mean more in-conference losses for each and that will be important if tie-breakers decide who’s in and who’s out at the end of the regular season.

Whew, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the match-ups.

This year’s common opponents:

The AFC East matches up with the relatively weak AFC South (Tennessee, Indy, Jacksonville & Houston) and, with Indianapolis’ poor/soft showing in their opening loss to the Bills, they all could run the table. The Colts looked incredibly soft in Buffalo, but you know they’ll play better with Andrew Luck at QB. Look for a lot of shootouts in their games as they still can’t stop anyone.

Eli Manning - I pooped my pants

It’s another story when the AFC East plays the NFC East, with possible powerhouses Dallas and Philly (yeah, I know, they didn’t look good on the road in their opening loss to the Falcons), the always tough Giants (Eli doesn’t make those same “dumb” decisions against the Pats)  and the helpless Redskins.

If all goes well, that schedule might give the AFC East teams as many as 6-8 wins. If they split games against each other their win total climbs to 9-11. Now, I know that’s a big leap after one game, but, hey it could happen and no one would be shocked…except Patriot and Colt fans.

Uncommon opponents

  • The Patriots beat the Steelers (whatever happened to the Steel Curtain? It’s turned to tin) and have the always tough Broncos in Denver coming up. Manning’s arm still looks dead, but playing the game at home is definitely to their advantage. The Bronco’s offense will be different under Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Peyton will have to adjust to the short, clock killing style Kubiak likes.
  • Miami faces Baltimore’s tough defense at home and the enigmatic Chargers on the road
  • The Jets have it easy beating Cleveland at home and the Raiders (who have no home advantage) on the road
  • Buffalo has the most difficult twosome, pairing off with Cincinnati at home and the powerful Chiefs in KC (my sleeper team this year).

Let’s face it, after one game no one knows what will shake out down the road. The only thing that seems certain is its great to have football back and lawsuits set aside for a while.

Please, don’t bet the family jewels (if you have any) on what I write, ’cause basically I’m just like you…A longtime fan who thinks he knows more than he does!

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

New England vs Buffalo: Tyrod Taylor could be a headache in the making

The Patriots will be facing off against the Buffalo Bills this week after both teams won in their week one matchups. A key factor in the Bills win against the Colts was due to the strong play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

profootballtalk.nbcsports.com
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

In the past the Patriots have tended to struggle defensively against mobile, speedy quarterbacks and Taylor is just that. Against the Colts Taylor was 14 of 19 passing with 195 yards and a touchdown, adding 41 yards on the ground. Taylor’s mobility helped him move around the pocket and extend plays. His speed and mobility also opened things up for the offense because of his ability to run the option and draw defenders off his offensive weapons.

New Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan knows from his tenure with the Jets that the Patriots have struggled against mobile quarterbacks and has had some success because of it. In the Patriots-Jets first meeting last season, Jets quarterback Geno Smith ran for 37 yards on seven carries and Smiths running ability almost lead to a New York Jets come from behind victory, before Chris Jones blocked a field goal to end the game. In 2013 against the Patriots Smith ran for a combined 50 yards on nine carries, and added a touchdown on the ground. The team also struggled in the Super Bowl with Russell Wilson rushing for 39 yards on three attempts. Rex Ryan has had some success against the Patriots’ defense in the past and knows the team’s weakness and where to attack, especially with the speed and skill set that Tyrod Taylor possesses.

bostonglobe.com
bostonglobe.com

Another reason why Taylor could give New England problems on Sunday is because of his lack of experience. Yes I know this sounds odd but with Taylor’s only career start coming last week against Indianapolis and with limited playing time during the Bills quarterback battle this preseason, there is not much film on Taylor which can make it hard to game plan against. With no film it can be hard to pinpoint weaknesses in Taylor’s game, especially coming off a strong performance last week. I expect the Patriots defense to be better prepared for Taylor than Indianapolis was and for Taylor to not have as good a performance this week that he did last. With that being said, Taylor’s skill set is something Patriots fans should still be worried about with all the different ways that he could beat a team.

I would expect the team to use a quarterback spy on Taylor such as Jamie Collins or Rob Ninkovich. Collins or Ninkovich do not possess the pure speed and quickness that Taylor does but they are both extremely smart, athletic players who could follow Taylor around the field and stop him from breaking off long runs. This would also allow defenders to stay on their man to eliminate potential targets. Ninkovich played a spy role in the Super Bowl against Russell Wilson at times and proved to stop him from scrambling as much and made one of the biggest plays in the game when he sacked Wilson late in the fourth quarter when spying Wilson.

via gazettenet.com
via gazettenet.com

This weekends game between the Patriots and the Bills could shape up to be one of the best games of the regular season. A huge key to victory for the Patriots is slowing down this Tyrod Taylor led Bills offense.