Behind Enemy Lines: Bills - Patriots Part II

PatriotsInsider.com's Jon Scott and BuffaloFootballReport.com's Tyler Dunne discuss the season finale between Buffalo and New England. In Part II, Dunne shares the scoop on the Buffalo offense, what happened vs the Broncos, which player must have a big day on Sunday and more...

Behind Enemy Lines - Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots
Questions for Bills Insider Tyler Dunne

1) Two weeks ago, the Bills had the game won against the New York Jets. All they needed to do was run the ball to gain a first down. Since then a firestorm ensued around the country criticizing Dick Jauron's decision to throw the ball, which resulted in a JP Losman, fumble and go ahead score for the Jets. How has the fallout from that loss affected the team and Jauron's future in Buffalo?

Tyler Dunne: That game and that play call was no doubt the apex of Buffalo's collapse. It capped Buffalo's 7th in 8 games --- in dreadful fashion. The decision to pass the ball with 2:06 when Marshawn Lynch was averaging 6 yards a pop truly put Jauron under the national microscope. Now, there's a specific decision to represent a season's worth of letdowns. That being said, the demoralizing loss did serve as fuel for Buffalo in Denver the following week. The Bills played inspired and shocked the Broncos, 30-23. Still, I don't see that win or even a possible win against the Patriots erasing the effects of that loss to the Jets. Jauron virtually gave away the game.

2) When The Patriots NT Vince Wilfork knocked JP Losman out of the lineup last year with a knee injury, Bills fans had no choice but to usher in the Trent Edwards era. Injuries have forced both quarterbacks to the sidelines. What's next for Buffalo, is Edwards the answer or...?

TD: That's a great question. I've always been very pro-Edwards. He's fundamentally sound, makes the right reads and has some big-time guts in his last two starts. Still, that midseason plunge sure was ugly and Edwards' numbers in two years aren't exactly laminating (18 touchdowns, 18 interceptions). And in against Cleveland on Monday Night, he appeared downright scared to push the ball beyond 5 yards downfield. Barring a can't-miss quarterback sliding to the Bills in the draft, Edwards will be the main man next fall again. Buffalo's problems on offense are at wide receiver. Edwards has scraps to work with outside of Lee Evans. The Bills need to give their quarterback some artillery and then he should flourish.

3) The Bills were expected to lose last week vs Denver. How did they manage to pull off the upset?

TD: Maybe it was the Mile High air. Who knows? If the Bills stayed within three touchdowns I would've been impressed. But somehow they channeled the disappointment from the Jets loss into motivation. The team rallied behind Jauron and played its best game of the season. The defense allowed nearly 600 yards, but stepped up in key moments --- whether it was Kawika Mitchell's interception or Reggie Corner punching the ball out of Brandon Stokely's grasp in the back of the end zone. For one game, the Bills rediscovered their swagger from September. A prove-them-all-wrong attitude spread throughout the whole team.

4) The Buffalo secondary has had it's share of talented defensive backs. Who is the best defender in the secondary now, and was that who you expected it to be when the season started?

TD: Donte Whitner is the real deal at strong safety. A bad shoulder has hampered him most of this season, but when he's healthy, Whitner is the rock of Buffalo's defense. Against Denver in the third quarter, his jarring hit on Brandon Marshall forced a key fumble that led to a field goal. Now that Leodis McKelvin is handling kickoffs, Terrence McGee has been able to focus at cornerback. As the team's No.1 corner, McGee has been solid. Ted Ginn Jr. torched McGee earlier in the season when he was still hobbled by an ankle injury. But overall, McGee's held his own against opposing receivers. I guess Whitner was the top gun all along in the secondary. It will interesting to see how he performs next season at 100 percent. He's shown some guts this year with that separated shoulder.

5) The Bills and the Patriots defenses seem on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of strengths. Buffalo has allowed 14 passing touchdowns (4th best overall) and 24 rushing touchdowns (17th overall). The Patriots have allowed 27 passing touchdowns (31st overall) and just 8 rushing touchdowns (5th best overall). Bearing that in mind, do you see a way the Bills can pass their way to success on Sunday or will they try to run the ball anyway?

TD: Interesting nugget there, Jon. Buffalo is certainly a run-first team. And even if Marshawn Lynch (shoulder) is unable to play, expect a heavy dose of Fred Jackson. The Bills will not want to put the ball in the air too much. We've had some pretty crazy weather lately --- 50+ mph winds, blizzards and recently, rain. So even though the Patriots may be vulnerable against the pass, I'd expect Turk Schonert to pound away with Jackson, who is much better than people realize. He has one of the best bursts in the AFC, as evident on his 65-yard reception last week. Buffalo may test-drive Xavier Omon a bit too on Sunday. Omon posted ridiculous numbers at Northwest Missouri State. He was the first back ever to run for more than 1,500 yards in four straight seasons. In '07 alone, he had a whopping 37 touchdowns and 2,337 yards. The Bills like this rookie a lot and may want to see what he can do in a meaningless game.

6) Which player do you think needs to have a big day for the Bills to win on Sunday?

TD: McGee. New England's offense is on fire lately. McGee will draw the task of guarding Randy Moss. He fared OK last time, giving up only 53 yards on five catches to Moss. But with Buffalo sure to shade extra attention toward Wes Welker, McGee will often be on an island with Moss. He'll need to limit the big plays to get Edwards the ball back, where Buffalo will look to establish a ball-control, time-melting offense.

Tyler Dunne covers the Buffalo Bills for BuffaloFootballReport.com

See Part 1: Patriots questions

 


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