Forget the Patriots—Buffalo Bills Should Copy Giants' Model

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Forget the Patriots—Buffalo Bills Should Copy Giants' Model

The reason to imitate the Giants' method instead the Patriots' isn't just that the former beat the latter.

The trouble is that it's tough to luck into having a Tom Brady hidden on your roster, a coach like Bill Belichick who remains an exceptional schemer no matter how joyless and dreary he is as a human being, and both peaking veterans and jettison declining ones at the precisely right moments.

The Bills don't have much chance at matching every move New England makes, but following a different track that's easier to copy—namely the one used by the world champions—could be a straightforward path to improvement.

Once embarrassing enough to his family that one could imagine him being stuck at the kid's table for Thanksgiving, Eli Manning is now tied with his more prominent big brother for number of Super Bowl wins. He did so not by attempting to outgun anyone but rather by managing the game and severely restricting turnovers.

Manning didn't throw an interception in the three playoff contests the team played on its way to Arizona and was credited for a single pick that was mostly his receiver's fault against New England.

If the Bills are set on Trent Edwards, Manning's low-risk approach is exactly the sort of economical style they should be drilling into their quarterback's head, as he should be focused on taking what's available and understanding that it's better to have a possession end with a punt than an interception. That patience means waiting for openings instead of forcing them, as Manning did when he chose his spots, bided his time, and eventually threw for two touchdowns in the last game's final quarter.

The Giants also got the opportunity to triumph by brutalizing foes on the ground along the way, led by Brandon Jacobs and his 5.0 yards per carry regular-season average. Marshawn Lynch didn't match that gain rate for a variety of reasons, none of which can be pinned on him.

With a new offensive coordinator in charge and hopefully more variation in the team's play calls, Lynch might face fewer episodes where he gets hopelessly swarmed in the backfield and more where he can employ his contact-relishing technique to control games for his team.

Astutely using change-of-pace back Fred Jackson could give further trouble to defenses, much like how rookie Ahmad Bradshaw came on late in the year for New York and actually had a better rate through the playoffs than starter Jacobs, including gaining more ground in the championship game. Having two solid backs is as essential as being willing to go with whoever has a hotter hand.

Most of all, New York's senior franchise employs an offensive line that generally dominated adversaries throughout the year, giving its quarterback time to make effective decisions and allowing its running backs to play aggressively instead of having to dodge free defenders. Emphasizing smart throws, a powerful ground assault, and nastiness from the linemen are all principles Buffalo could concentrate on embracing without a major offensive overhaul.

As for the defense, the Giants utilize a style the Bills should mimic. Although it will mean a significant change in philosophy, it would enhance efforts to stifle other teams. Specifically, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has his men blitz incessantly, keeping the other team's offensive personnel from getting comfortable and alleviating pressure on his defensive ends while he's at it.

The Bills' tactic of dropping everyone but the linemen has led to same linemen being picked on and pushed around by their blockers. Changing to a scheme where the defense forcefully attacks the opponent at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield, largely through blitzing straight up the interior, makes having fewer players in coverage an acceptable trade-off.

The ferocious aggressiveness in the trenches on both sides of the ball, along with judicious quarterback play, helped the Giants knock off teams such as, say, Buffalo on their way through the regular season and playoffs on to a Super Bowl title.

New England's accomplishments this decade have been achieved through a unique set of circumstances that would be virtually impossible to perfectly replicate, but that other team from the championship game set forth a pattern for victory that a team like the Bills could reproduce.

As we saw, it can be successful.

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