The Buffalo Bills were supposed to present the Patriots with the stiffest test they've faced since the Jets of 2009 and 2010, but the test turned into an open book quiz as the Patriots tore apart the vaunted Bills defense for a total of 507 yards, 466 of them coming from the right arm of Tom Brady. Even though the game was a blowout until the fourth quarter, the Patriots coaching staff made game management mistakes that almost cost them the game. Let's go through the Studs and Duds from Week Two.
Tom Brady- This is an absolute no brainer; Brady was 38-59 for 466 yards and three touchdowns. He did have a big fumble in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't his decision to be in shotgun with four minutes to go and up 18. Brady has had his struggles against Rex Ryan-led defenses in the past, but this was not one of those days. Brady did an excellent job of getting the ball out quickly against the excellent Buffalo defensive front, a must if you want to avoid sacks and get the offense into rhythm. Brady is now 24-3 against the Bills in his career, an incredible number for a player who faces the same team twice per year.
Rob Gronkowski- The beast of the east had another huge game in Buffalo, finishing the day with seven catches for 113 yards and one touchdown. Gronkowski also made some great blocks on the few strong runs the Patriots had. Buffalo tried everything to try and stop him, but the guy is basically impossible to cover at this point of his career. Gronkowski also opens up all the underneath routes for smaller receivers like Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and whatever back the Patriots are featuring that specific play.
Julian Edelman- Edelman only averaged 8.8 yards per catch, but his 11 catches and two touchdowns were crucial to the Patriots success Sunday. Edelman has quickly become the best slot receiver in the NFL and is invaluable to Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. When Brady was struggling in the preseason, most people blamed it on a rotating door on the offensive line, but the truth is, without Edelman and the aforementioned Gronkowski, this offense is barely above average.
Dion Lewis- Yes, he fumbled for the second time in two weeks, but he also had six catches for 98 yards and rushed seven times for 40 yards and one touchdown. Lewis doesn't slow down in his cuts and does an excellent job of hiding behind his huge offensive line, and that makes it very difficult for defenses to deal with him. Danny Woodhead's role was never filled when he left, but Lewis appears to be able to handle that role. Lewis is the best receiving back the Patriots have on the roster, and he should be a huge part of the Patriots offense in 2015, assuming he stops fumbling.
Chandler Jones- Jones finished the day with three sacks and was a terror for the Bills all day. New England finished the day with eight sacks and Jones is the one who set the tone. If he stays healthy for the entire season, he has a legitimate opportunity to finish with 15 sacks and make the Pro Bowl. With his contract almost up, this is a good time for Jones to show the ability he's flashed over his first three NFL seasons.
Bill Belichick/Patriots Coaching Staff- The decisions made at crucial times in this game were very poor, like going for it on fourth down up 21-7 late in the first half, giving the Bills a short field when the Patriots defense was playing great. They need to punt there, pin them back and see if the defense can either force a turnover or get a stop like they had the five drives before that. In the second half, the scenario repeated itself and they went for it again and also failed again. It wasn't as bad because at least they were on the Bills 40, but they still should have punted. The fourth quarter featured poor game and clock management; with a 12 point lead and just over four minutes to go, the Patriots were in shotgun, which makes sense if you are going to run out of it, but why throw? Brady ended up getting strip-sacked and two plays later the Bills offense scored to make it a five point game. A game that should have been an absolute blowout was close because of three boneheaded decisions by the coaching staff.
Bradley Fletcher- Fletcher continues to struggle defending the deep ball, and if he doesn't figure it out soon, he may find himself without a job. Fletcher got beat by Percy Harvin and it resulted in a 39 yard pass interference. Charles Clay scored on the next play. Fletcher has had some good moments, but he needs to adjust his technique on deep balls or has to recognize when the receiver is running a deep route, which is something cornerbacks are taught to do.
Scott Chandler- The return to Buffalo was not good for Chandler. He did make three catches for 23 yards, but he had two drops in the end zone when the Patriots went to him twice in a row. The Patriots don't like repeated mistakes, and that includes drops. He did pick up a big first down in the fourth quarter, but he needs to make catches in the red zone because that is the main reason New England signed him.
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