by the Patriots Daily Staff
The coast is clear, according to the Boston Globe’s Mike Reiss.
The Patriots have turned over all tapes, notes and other materials related to their illegal taping of their opponent’s defensive coaching signals, and according to Commissioner Roger Goodell, there will be no further penalties against the team.
The league also said they have no evidence to support further claims against New England.
There. Up yours to Chris Mortensen, Peter King, Charlie Casserly and the rest of the unholy cabal that sought to topple the Belichick regime. In the words of David Byrne, you’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything.
The mealy mouthed general managers, players and coaches who tried to bury a rival off the field with words, instead of on it with action, now have little recourse but to zip it and take their medicine, which will undoubtedly be unforgiving.
With that out of the way, let’s bring in the Roundtable gang to re-focus our energies on this week’s game.
The Bills nearly beat Denver to open the season at home, before falling to the Steelers by 23 in Pittsburgh last week. This week they’re on the road again to meet the Pats in Foxborough. Can they be the first team to slow down the Pats? Let’s start by matching up the Patriots offense against the Buffalo defense.
Travis Graham: The first week of the season decimated the Bills defense with unforeseen injuries. They went into the Steelers game with six defensive players out. Roethlisberger was able to pick them apart by spreading the ball around to nine different receivers. In the fourth quarter of the Steelers game, Terrence McGee, the Bill’s star kick returner and cornerback had to helped off the field with bruised ribs. I can’t see this second string Bills defense stopping the passing attack of the Pats. It’ll probably be similar to last week; score early through the air, then eight minute drives in the second half.
Bruce Allen: Belichick has mentioned a few times already that the Bills will be a challege just because they do things differently than the Jets and Chargers. He mentioned that both of the first two teams were 3-4 defenses, while the Bills play a 4-3 and are a quicker team up front.
Dan Snapp: Does facing the 4-3 mean more carries for Maroney? One of the early wrinkles I’m loving is Brady to Moss out of the three tight end formation. Just the concept: we know you’ll get open, and we’ll protect as long as you need to do so. They’ve scored twice out of it. Do the Bills have anything – either in coverage or pressure – to offset it?
Scott Benson: Do you think that Randy Moss likes us? That is, to say, have we made a good first impression? Because its two games and already I don’t want to think of a Patriots offense without Moss. It’s not so much all the catches and yards and touchdowns (which are all excellent, by the way) but it’s the way that production just seems to create more room for everyone else. I mean, Wes Welker has got to think he has died and gone to Heaven. It’s as if they shrunk everybody not wearing blue and silver by half. The defense looks like an overwhelmed cadre of dwarves chasing the Patriots as they run free across acres ofopen turf. I know Tom Brady didn’t break 200 yards in either game against the Bills last year, but that was before.
Tim Jordan: Bruce mentioned the 4-3 and it will interesting to see if they plan to attack it with the spread offense as they did in the first two games. Stands to reason they could try and counter the speed Buffalo has on the edges with Maroney and Morris instead. It would be great to see them open the game with 7 consecutive running plays to make the defense adjust. Other than Schoebel, is anyone really concerned about their personnel? It’s hard to find areas of concern from what we have seen thus far from the NE offense. Having said that, the Bills always seem to play the Patriots well on the road, last year’s Safety Game comes to mind, and it could be closer than the spread would indicate.
Kevin Thomas: Looking at their defense, I had no idea how young that unit is. Schobel is the elder statesman, and he’s only 30. Most of those guys are 25-26 or even younger. There’s a lot of recent high draft picks on that defense, and they could turn into a formidable group in the not-too-distant future. Not by Sunday, however. They are too inexperienced to deal with everything the Patriots can throw at them. New England will find the weak spots on that defense and exploit them as needed. The scary thing about the Patriots offense is they seemingly have a number of options and looks they really haven’t even shown yet.
How about the JP Losman and the Bills offense – how do they match up against the New England defense?
Greg Doyle: Not well. They aren’t good, especially Losman. They have one weapon, Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch, a young back with potential. But that ain’t going to get it done versus the Patriots. Look for them to struggle moving the ball at all. They’ll need turnovers from their defense and short fields to have a shot of putting up points.
Bruce: Evans has been invisible the first two weeks of the season, you can’t expect that to continue, but is this the week he breaks out? I don’t know if I see that happening. Losman is a bit more mobile than Pennington or Rivers, so the pass rush will also need to adjust for that, but I still think Vrabel and Colvin are going to be around him quite a bit on Sunday. He’s going to need to get the ball away quickly.
Travis: JP is going to have to win this one for them because I have a feeling they’ll be down early and running the ball will be out of the question. The Bills tight ends stink and they could be without Josh Reed for the second week in a row. Look to see the Pats’ DBs fighting over the ball in order to boost their INT stats in this one.
Scott: For all the attention their offense is getting, the New England defense hasn’t been half bad. They’re one of the best in the league at stopping the run, and at time of possession. They’ve been respectable on third down and at rushing the passer. The Bills had as much trouble scoring on the Pats as New England did on scoring on Buffalo last year, and Adalius Thomas has had sort of a mini-Moss impact on the center of the Patriots defense.
Kevin: I don’t know. We really don’t know much about this defense. The offense has been so dominant, the defense really hasn’t needed to do a whole lot, except avoid a total collapse. They’ve obviously done alright so far, but mostly against shell-shocked opponents in perpetual “catch-up” mode. The four touchdowns they have given up are kind of concerning, since all four came after long, sustained, clock-killing drives–which is OK if you’re up by 3 scores, but not so good in a close game.
Dan: I’m eager to see the Bills’ new line. They spent big bucks to rework it. I still can’t see Lynch finding holes.
Tim: Can you believe that JP Losman has been in the league for 4 years? I am trying to think of something that makes me nervous about the Buffalo offense and it’s just not happening. This may be the week that the defense overshadows the offense. Maybe the K-Gun will rise like a Phoenix and the stadium will stand in awe of it’s precision and efficiency? Probably not, but they may go no-huddle to limit the sub-packages. Of course, you would think that they want to do everything they can to keep the Patriot offense off the field. I am not sure what you’re feeling good about if your a Buffalo fan heading into Gillette this week.
How about the coaching matchup? Will Dick Jauron fare better than Eric Mangini and Norv Turner did?
Bruce: I think Belichick has a healthy respect for Jauron. He has spoken highly of him in the past, though I think he has of Turner as well. The Bills are trying to avoid an 0-3 hole, and will be focused on the New England juggernaut come Sunday. Will it be enough? I don’t see it.
Tim: This is where I usually conjure up some sophomoric and embarrassing scenario where the opposing coach humiliates himself, but I can’t do that with “Swampscott’s own” Dick Jauron. He’s from a coastal NE community like I am. I feel a kinship to him and he makes “washashores” like us proud of his stationin NFL life. Having said that, if someone that looked like Jauron worked in the children’s section of my local library I’d be Googling his name the minute I got home.
Okay, time for your predictions.
Tim: Pats 28-3.
Bruce: Why not – 38-14 Patriots.
Greg: New England 27 Buffalo 9. This one will never really be in question, the Pats will take the air out of the ball in the second half and be vanilla. They don’t have to do too much to win here and will cruise to an easy victory.
Travis: 34-3 Pats. It won’t be as close as the score indicates.
Dan: Maroney and Morris will be working overtime in the second half. 31-10.
Kevin: The Pats will score often and early, and cruise the rest of the way. 31-20.
Scott: Dick Jauron is committed to protecting his defensive signals. He shreds every Bills playbook before boarding the charter to New England, then eats the remains. The Bills are instructed that only one roommate is allowed to sleep at any one given time; lest a Belichick functionary sneak into the room and suck the brains from their heads. Jauron, in a deep sweat, insists that a bulky and questionably functional Cone of Silence be installed on the visitor’s sideline; the Bills are, of course, slaughtered 68-0. In a few weeks, Belichick won’t even have to come out of the locker room.