Bellichick Checkmates Williams!

<p>While many Bills fans, Patriot fans, and football fans nationwide were viewing this game as a Bledsoe vs. Brady matchup, in my pre-game analysis I stated that winning this game was less about the QBs than it was about the coaching and running games of both teams. For those keeping tally however, I suppose Brady wins this one by virtue of a far better performance, for whatever that means.</p>

I can tell you what it does not mean; it does not mean that the reason for the Pats victory and complete domination of the Bills was due to the play of the QBs or Bledsoe in particular.

The Patriots dominated every single aspect of Sunday's game. It could not have been more clear that Belichick came prepared, from the very first play of the game until the last goal line stand that disallowed what would have been the Bills' last points and only the second score of the game. On the other side of the ball, Williams, Gilbride, and Gray had absolutely no answers as they had the team totally unprepared both at the onset of the game, as well as coming out for the second half. When the Bills were largely still in the game, only down by 17-7, Williams had the Bills coming out of the tunnel in the second half completely flat! They also made no significant adjustments at all. Gilbride and the offense brought their usual Moulds, Price, and TE three-man out offense w/ occasional distractions from the backfield until of course the score was so far out of control that the Bills' only option was to pass. Even then, the Pats' D dominated the Bills offense like a killer whale tossing around a seal. As a Bills fan, the game was not even worth watching as Belichick and the Pats made relatively quick work of a woeful Bills team that demonstrated a very clear and continued lack of coaching on game day! I know many fans will argue that point to the grave, but in fact that is the primary reason for this loss.

The Pats began the game with patience and executed an extremely nice 8-play drive with Brady going 6 for 6 en route to a fantastic day. The Pat passing game clearly demonstrated that Belichick had been in the film room quite a bit. The game also should have made anyone wonder whether Williams and the Bills' coaches even had any film of the Pats in preparation for this game! The Pat offense was led by Brady and a 23 of 27 for 310 yard passing effort, mostly prior to the 4th quarter, leading to 4 touchdowns and no interceptions at all and built around high percentage passes. Most were short but there was no shortage of yards-after-the-catch. Meanwhile, to balance out the offense while simultaneously embarrassing his former employers, Antowain Smith quietly had a 142 total yardage performance on 29 carries and 5 receptions leading to 3 touchdowns. That beats either of last year's performances of 100 and 95 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns combined.

On the other side of the ball, the Patriot defense knew exactly what to do to disrupt Bledsoe and it was not difficult for them to fully predict how Gilbride and the coaches would react to it. If there is one word that I can think of that says it all, it would have to be "befuddled." There were absolutely no changes or other flashes of creativity in the second half by the Bills offense other than to simply add another receiver or two to the receiving corps. That did not work well since the Pat coverage was excellent and the Bills continued to struggle to protect Drew, who suffered four sacks. Prior to this game, fans were raving that Drew had the edge over the Pats secondary since he "knew them." It now appears that Belichick and the Pat D know Bledsoe a wee bit better than he knows them. Whether this suggests that Brady is the better quarterback or whether "the" trade was worth it for Buffalo is not the question. The question is "Why do the Bills do less with more?" in contrast to asking how Belichick does "more with less."

This will be a tough bye-week. There will and should be plenty of second-guessing and soul-searching, especially amongst the coaches! My expectations for the second half, considering that the coaching staff is inept at making appropriate changes and/or adjustments, is 2-5 to leave us at 7-9 by the season's end. I can see 8-8, but only with some changes in some of the aforementioned places, and there is absolutely no reason or evidence to otherwise suggest that they will occur. I can also see 6-10 or possibly even 5-11 if the Bills continue to play as they did vs. the Pats. The Pats have made it very plain for every offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and head coach in the league to see what it takes to beat us. All they have to do to disrupt the passing game is pressure Drew up-the-middle the way the Pats did. Gilbride apparently will not run the ball even if it means controlling the game, keeping us in the game, or going up to put the game out of reach late in the second or early in the third against weak teams. Offensively, as if teams needed any help in scoring against us, the Pats revealed that simple high-percentage passes, including lots of screen passes, combined with a halfway decent running game should easily put enough points on the board to win it.

The bottom line is that the Bills are a 5-11 team in a 10-6 team's body. Regardless of what power polls and other rating systems may say, we are not much better than the handful of 2-6 or 3-5 teams that we have beaten. There is a false perception, due to some very marginal victories against 4 of the worst teams in the league, that the Bills are as good as their 5-4 record. In fact, they more closely resemble the Patriot team that at least on paper looked only as good as 3-4 heading into this past game. Even that may be generous to the Bills. Since the only two marginal teams left on the Bills' schedule are Cincinnati and the Jets (away), I would suggest that wins are going to come at a premium after the bye week. The Bills re-open their schedule with three of four games on the road beginning with the Chiefs in two weeks. I have no idea how the Bills will prevent the Chiefs from amassing a touchdown or field goal on every single drive of theirs. So unless we can do the same, expect a loss there. The Jets, while being poo-poo'd by many Bills fans, may in fact be better than us now with the resurgence of the passing game and a healthy Martin. After that, very possibly a three-game skid, the Bills face a Miami team bent on revenge at home and then have the fortunes of going to N.E. to be embarrassed and totally outcoached once again.

- Mark Weiler Special Thanks To http:// billszone.com


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