Inside The Bills

CBS’ Gannon on Bills-Pats

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2011 – 8:33 am

CBS color analyst Rich Gannon, who will be doing the television broadcast with Marv Albert on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, had some noteworthy comments on this weekend’s AFC East matchup.

Gannon was dead on with his assessment of how Buffalo has to approach this game. 

Every offensive series for the Buffalo Bills is absolutely critical. When you’re up against Tom Brady and the Patriots you almost have to assume that they’re going to score on every offensive possession,” Gannon said. “That’s why you have to almost match them score-for-score. You can’t really count on your defense to come up with a lot of big plays, negative plays, turnovers.  This is a team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, particularly in the quarterback position. Defensively, the Patriots thrive on creating negative plays.”

Gannon believes a sound three-phases effort is what’s needed for the Bills to pull of a victory.

“I’m not suggesting that Buffalo has to play flawless, but in order for them to win they have to have a very clean performance in every phase of the game – offensively, defensively and the kicking game,” he said. “They’re a good team, but they’re not as deep and talented right now as the Patriots. In order for them to win, the quarterback and Fred Jackson have to have big days offensively.  And that can happen. Look at the Patriots the first two weeks: the Dolphins got after them and put up some big numbers. Philip Rivers and the Chargers put up 477 yards of offense against this defense. The way they beat you is Brady and a couple of turnovers.  Typically that’s how it gets done. In order for the Bills to win they have to score on defense and score with the kicking game. It will take that type of effort to beat the Patriots.”

Gannon has an affinity for Ryan Fitzpatrick and can probably relate to him as well after spending the first half of his career as a backup. 

“I’ve been in the same situation; a quarterback waits his turn, he always wants to have his own team, and when he finally gets the opportunity, he never looks back,” Gannon said. “Last year really wasn’t his team from the beginning.  Now I think that the organization has shown some confidence in him.  They didn’t draft a quarterback.  This is his team.  He’s got his thumb print all over it.  The thing that hurt him a year ago was he was a little careless with the ball.  They had the worst turnover differential and a lot of that can be traced back to him being a little bit too aggressive at times.”

As far as the approach Buffalo’s defense should take with Brady is force long down and distance situations come third down. 

“What’s the best way to defend Tom Brady? Do you pressure him? Do you play coverage? Do you rush three or four?  Nobody really has any answers and you’re not going to stop him,” Gannon said. “They’re going to get their big plays.  He’s going to throw a lot of completions, and put up big numbers. You have to try and win on first down. 

“In other words, if you can hold them to a two-yard completion on first down and force them to have third-and-sevens, third-and-eights, and live in that world a little bit, then you have a chance. The other thing is you have to win in the red zone. You have to hold them to field goals down there and not give up the big explosive plays.

“Brady is a special player.  He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.  He’s got a quick release – the ball comes out and he’s very accurate.  He has a lot of talent around him and they are a well-coached team.  It’s kind of like going up against Peyton Manning. You know you’re going to give up points, but can you still be standing in the fourth quarter with a chance to win? That’s really the challenge for the Bills.”

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