Patriots - Bills: Keys to the Game
Pats need Dillon to step it up
Pats need Dillon to step it up
Patriots Insider
Posted Oct 29, 2005


The New England Patriots have shown improvement in several statistical categories as the season has progressed, the most important being in the ground game. Corey Dillon has improved his average gain per rush from 2.7 to 4.6 per carry giving opponents more concern about the Patriots play-action pass. Patriots Insider Chris Goodhue takes a look at the numbers and shares some keys to the game.

Patriots - Bills: Keys to the Game
By Chris Goodhue, Patriots Insider

Bills The offensive key for the Patriots this week will be to get Corey Dillon running like old times, and the Buffalo run defense may be just what the doctor ordered for # 28. The Bills are dead last in the AFC in rush yards allowed (1,113), average yards allowed per carry (5.1), and rushing TD's allowed (11). Obviously some of the drop off comes from the loss of LB Takeo Spikes for the year. His absence has left 3rd year man Angelo Crowell at the ROLB spot who is an obvious downgrade from arguably the Bills' best defensive player.

The young left side of the Patriots offensive line, namely OT Nick Kazcur and G Logan Mankins; will benefit from this match-up against DE Aaron Schobel and DT Tim Anderson and should be able to gain confidence for the stretch run. If they can move the pile and get Dillon to unload on the smallish LB Crowell, the Patriots should dominate the clock. Dan Koppen and Stephen Neal will have a tough go of things with LB London Fletcher and DT Sam Adams.

 

Bills Rush Defense:

Fletcher is Buffalo's leading tackler and roams the field side-to-side as good as any MLB in the league. Despite being on what could be perceived as the downside of his career, Sam Adams is still a load to deal with at 6'4", 335 Lbs., and Neal will most likely get help from Koppen and OT Tom Ashworth on some runs.

Here is how opposing rushers have done against the Bills:

WkRBTeam
Carries
Yards
Av.
TDs
1 Domanick DavisHOU
14
48
3.4
0
2Carnell WilliamsTB
24
128
5.3
1
3Warrick DunnATL
15
97
6.5
0
4Deuce McAllisterNO
27
130
4.8
0
5Ronnie BrownMIA
17
97
5.7
0
6Curtis MartinNYJ
18
148
8.2
1
7LaMont JordanOAK
28
122
4.4
3
Av. per game (only primary RB)
21
110
5.4
0.7

This, of course is assuming that Corey Dillon will play Sunday night. Dillon missed Week 6 at Denver, and most in the inner circles believe he and Richard Seymour were given that game off for some extra rest coupled with the bye week and will be available Sunday.

Here are Dillon's numbers game by game:

WkTeam
Carries
Yards
Av.
TDs
1
Oakland
23
63
2.7
2
2
Carolina
14
36
2.6
0
3
Pittsburgh
22
61
2.8
2
4
San Diego
14
63
4.5
1
5
Atlanta
23
106
4.6
0
6
Denver
dnp
-
-
-
7
Bye
-
-
-
-
TOTALS
96
329
3.4
5
Av. per game played
19
66
3.4
1

 

Patriots Pass Offense:

As Tom Brady goes, so goes the Pats' offense. In games in which he has achieved a 80.0 quarterback rating or higher, the Pats are 3-0, and every time he's been south of that number, they are 0-3. Some of the failure has to be attributed to the lackluster running game thus far, which has allowed opposing defense to pin back their ears and attack Brady constantly. If the Patriots can establish the run against a feeble Buffalo run defense, Brady may be able play-action successfully against a tough secondary that could be caught on their heels.

The offensive line has not been kind to Brady. Despite not being sacked that much, he has been hit and knocked down a great deal. It is not out of the question that the Patriots' offense may utilize 3-step drops for short slants and outs to WR's Deion Branch and David Givens as well as some screens to ensure Brady's timing is optimum.

Here are Brady's game by game stats thus far:

WkOpponent
Att/comp
Yards
Pct
TDs
Int
Rate
1Oakland
24/48
306
63.2%
2
0
105.8
2Carolina
23/44
270
52.3%
1
1
69.3
3Pittsburgh
31/41
372
75.6%
0
1
92.7
4San Diego
19/32
224
59.4%
1
1
78.1
5Atlanta
22/27
350
81.5%
3
1
140.4
6 Denver
24/46
299
52.2%
1
0
79.9

 

Bills Pass Defense:

The Bills' pass defense is almost the polar opposite of their run defense. Buffalo is among the top 5 in the AFC in pass yards allowed per game (153.6), interceptions (9), sacks (16), and QB rating against (66.9). Troy Vincent is pulling a Rod Woodson-like metamorphosis in his later years switching from corner to free safety where he has 3 picks and leads the team. He'll be helping the corners prevent the deep ball on the outside. CB Nate Clements is one of the best and will have the onerous task of shutting down Deion Branch.

Terrence McGee is a speedy young corner who leads the team with 9 pass deflections. He will give Givens all he can handle. Old friend Lawyer Milloy is second on the team in tackles, but hasn't done much in coverage, with only 1 INT and 3 pass deflections. Getting the ball to tight ends Daniel Graham and Ben Watson should be at a premium, as they will most likely be matched up on the aging Milloy.

Bills Rush Offense:

The key to stopping Buffalo's offense is shutting down RB Willis McGahee. The former Miami Hurricane is having another solid year in this his second as the starter. However, the Bills have had trouble getting him going against top run defenses like Tampa Bay and Miami.

Here is how McGahee has done week to week:

WkTeam
Carries
Yards
Av.
TDs
1
Houston
22
117
5.3
0
2
Tampa Bay
13
34
2.6
0
3
Atlanta
27
140
5.2
1
4
New Orleans
16
84
5.3
1
5
Miami
31
86
2.8
1
6
New York Jets
29
143
4.9
1
7
Oakland
16
50
3.1
0

It is still unclear if LB Tedy Bruschi will play this week, but assuming he plays little if at all, there is a lot of talk that OLB Mike Vrabel will move to the inside replacing Chad Brown, whose real strength is rushing the passer on the edge. Vrabel isn't afraid to engage with the guards to free up the other inside man, but the problem is Monty Beisel has been horrendous in pursuit. More than likely, Vrabel will be making the plays while Beisel does the grunt work.

If the Pats have trouble stopping McGahee, they will have to make the most of their chances when the Bills pass. The takeaway department has been the real killer of the defense this season. Vrabel still has the only INT for the defense, which is a reflection on how poor the play of the defensive backs has really been.

Holcomb or Losman

Veteran QB Kelly Holcomb supplanted second year man J.P. Losman after Week 4, and he has been fairly solid posting better than an 80.0 rating in each start. The Bills are 2-1 with him at the helm, compared to 1-3 with Losman. Here are Holcomb's game by game stats since he became the starter:

WkOpponent
Att/comp
Yards
Pct
TDs
Int
Rate
5Dolphins
20/26
159
76.9%
1
0
106.1
6 Jets
18/26
172
69.2%
2
2
80.9
7Raiders
19/27
159
70.4%
2
0
110.0

The rise of Holcomb to alpha dog has helped improve the play of no. 1 WR Eric Moulds. Here are Moulds' numbers with Losman compared to when Holcomb is under center:

With Losman… 10 rec., 80 yds., 0 TD in 4 games
With Holcomb.. 20 rec., 158 yds., 2 TD in 3 games

Final Thoughts:

The Patriots will need to generate some pressure to help out the depleted secondary, which is now without CB Tyrone Poole for the season, joining SS Rodney Harrison and CB Chad Scott on injured reserve. Getting to the QB has been tough for the Pats, recording only 11 sacks in 6 games, tying them for 11th in the AFC with Oakland, although the anticipated return of Richard Seymour should help them out a great deal. Other than Seymour, only one other defender (Willie McGinest with 2.5) has more than a sack and a half.


Would you like to see more of this type of analysis? Send your feedback here


More football talk on the Patriots Message Boards
URL: http://mb.scout.com/bpatriotsinsider

 



Related Stories
Patriots Notes: Dillon, Light, Bruschi...
 -by PatriotsInsider.com  Oct 28, 2005
They Said It: Bills Post Game Quotes
 -by PatriotsInsider.com  Oct 31, 2005
They Said It: Patriots Post Game Quotes
 -by PatriotsInsider.com  Oct 31, 2005

PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION INCLUDES
> Members-only Forums
> Insider Information
> Free Agency &
   Draft News
> Expert Chats

Sign Up Today!

Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from PatriotsInsider.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Players to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite players. Click name to add to My HotList.
QB Tom Brady (profile)
RB Corey Dillon (profile)
QB Kelly Holcomb (profile)
QB J.P. Losman (profile)
[View My HotList]