Patriots vs. Bills: 3 Reasons Buffalo Still Can't Compete in the AFC East
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After their second straight blowout loss to a division opponent, the Buffalo Bills are still a long way from competing in the AFC East. Sunday's thrashing at the hands of the New England Patriots exemplified several glaring reasons why this is true.
Even before Buffalo coughed up a 21-7 third quarter lead, you had to think C.J. Spiller's fumble at the 1-yard line just before halftime would come back to haunt the Bills. But with the way the Pats scored in the final 30 minutes, it didn't matter either way.
New England is now 17-1 against Buffalo in their last 18 meetings. According to FoxSports.com, in his 21 career starts versus Buffalo, Tom Brady is 19-2 with 49 TDs.
The Bills, in contrast, are 4-22 in their last 26 divisional games, and this is a team we were supposed to think was ready to challenge New England's dominance?
Ahead, we're going to look at the three biggest reasons why Buffalo isn't even close to being able to do that yet.
1. Lack of Pressure from Their Defensive Ends
Mario Williams was non-existent against both the Jets and the Patriots.
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Nine tackles and 1.5 sacks. Most Bills fans would have hoped for a stat-line like that from Mario Williams in one game. Instead, those are his totals after the first four.
For as bad as the Bills defense has looked at times, they're still 2-2, along with the other three teams in the AFC East.
However, the Bills didn't sign Williams and Mark Anderson in the hopes of finishing 8-8. Buffalo has been the definition of mediocrity (or worse) for the last 13 years.
No, fans and management alike thought they were getting two pass-rushers who could both be difference-makers. Yet, Anderson's numbers are even worse than Williams's (seven tackles and one sack).
If the Bills have any thoughts about the playoffs this year, they need Williams and Anderson to create havoc in the pocket every game. It may not always result in sacks, but they're at least contributing to the D's success, something neither of them have done at all through the season's first month.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick Isn't Getting Any Better
Fitzpatrick struggles to throw the ball well downfield.
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Anyone who has watched this team over the last few years knows they're limited at the QB position. Re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick may have been the right thing to do, but that's only because there wasn't anyone better available.
Many of Fitz's interceptions this year have been on terribly underthrown passes that never seem to travel more than 40 yards in the air.
Jay Skurski of The Sporting News sums it up best:
Here's a good example of the inconsistency of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: Through four games, he leads the NFL in touchdown passes (12) and is tied for the league lead in interceptions (seven). Fitzpatrick is 2-12 against the AFC East since 2010.
Buffalo will remain an afterthought in the division as long as Fitzpatrick is behind center.
3. Lack of Coaching Adjustments, Especially on the Defensive Side
Dave Wannstedt's unit fell apart in the 4th quarter Sunday.
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Chan Gailey and the rest of the Bills coaching staff had to know the Patriots were going to adjust at halftime. That's what Bill Belichick does. Someone forgot to tell Gailey he could do that too.
Buffalo's D was holding their own with Brady and the Pats through the first two quarters. But once New England started to run the no-huddle and dominate on the ground in the second half, the onslaught ensued.
Allowing 580 yards of total offense is embarrassing. But to allow 45 points in a half is unheard of.
While the Pats exploited the Bills inability to stop the run, Bills Defensive Coordinator Dave Wannstedt failed to find ways of generating pressure on Brady in the last two quarters.
If Wannstedt had altered his game plan in the third quarter once he realized the front seven wasn't getting any kind of pressure, the outcome might have been different. Blitzing Brady isn't always effective, but the Bills didn't even give it a chance on Sunday.
Ultimately, if these three issues continue to fester, Buffalo's looking at another last place finish in the AFC East.