1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Which poison will the Bills pick on Sunday? Focus on stopping Gronk? Or focus on stopping Dion Lewis and the resurgent New England running game?
CB: I think they’ll try to make the Patriots offense as one dimensional as possible. But that’s hard for a number of reasons. Brady is a big reason, but the other key reason is New England has very effectively diversified their offense. They no longer rely primarily on a short passing game. Brandin Cooks gives them a deep threat for the first time since Randy Moss was running go routes for them.
That only enhances their short pass game by creating more space underneath.
Couple that with two very multi-faceted backs in Burkhead and Lewis and you quickly see the problem. They have answers for whatever aspect of their offense you focus your attention on neutralizing.
Take away Gronk, they’ll go to Cooks over the top.
Keep Cooks in front of you and don’t give up anything deep, and they nickel and dime you to death with the backs out of the backfield and Amendola on short crossers.
The best plan for Buffalo is to slow their run game, since aside from their three-game slide, they’ve done an excellent job of that. Then do what you can to slow Brady.
Even pressuring Brady has its pitfalls. He’s the highest-rated passer in the league under pressure with a rating over 100.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Shaq Lawson finally be a key factor in this game?
CB: I respect the tone of frustration here. The guy is a first-round pick and a pass rusher by trade. He also has Jerry Hughes, a respected pass rusher on the other side. It’s certainly logical to think that Lawson should be capable of having a greater impact on games from a pass rushing perspective.
Fact is it’s going to be difficult for any pass rusher to have a major impact on the game. The Dolphins last week hit Tom Brady a lot. They had a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception and still lost by 17 to the Patriots giving up 35 points.
I believe Lawson will be able to generate pressure at times. Heck, his first career sack was of Tom Brady. But take over the game is just not something I think he’s capable of at this point in his career.
Reason being is Lawson is a power rusher, not a speed rusher. And until Lawson capably develops counter moves to some of his favorite initial rushes, he’s not going to be consistently effective series in and series out. And that’s on Lawson to perfect those counter moves to be the best pass rusher he can be.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will Milano ever see more time on the field?
CB: I think that is happening incrementally from one week to the next. Since Ramon Humber returned to the lineup he’s been playing a rotational role.
The best part of his game right now is his speed and penetration into the offensive backfield on run plays. He’s very aggressive.
At this point, there are still a time or two where he gets crossed up by the offense particularly when they show a different look. Knowing the Patriots are pros at targeting inexperienced players and isolating them, the Bills will need to be judicious with their usage of Milano.
His time is coming, but to expect to see him out there a ton might have to wait until next season. He needs more experience, which I realize you get by playing, but that is why they’re sprinkling him in without exposing his lack of experience at the cost of the defense.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think 9-7 will be good enough to make the playoffs
CB: This year in the AFC, I do think 9-7 will be good enough to get to the playoffs. The main reason being that you have three teams with five losses already and two of them hold playoff spots (KC, Balt.). There are also three teams with six losses, two of which are in the AFC West with the Chiefs in the Raiders and Chargers. Cincinnati is the other.
With five games to play and none of these teams playing great football right now, it’s hard to believe one or two of them is going to run the table the rest of the way. In fact, they’re all likely to lose one or two games at least. That would put a couple of these teams in a situation where they’ll be in contention for a playoff spot with seven losses.
The key for Buffalo is not to fall into a tie with either Cincinnati or Los Angeles for the obvious reason that they would lose out on the head-to-head tiebreaker to those clubs.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
I’m sure neither would admit it publicly but do you think Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott now regret any of the players they either traded, cut or did not re-sign? Zach Brown and Robert Woods are two that come to mind.
CB: I don’t believe in the positions that both Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott hold that you can ever have regret for the kind of calls they have to make unless they feel it was handled poorly. The actual move or in the two players you’ve referenced, non-move, is a decision they are willing to live with for all of its pluses and minuses.
With Woods, the issue there was the money he was going to command on the open market. The Bills were simply not going to pay $8M a season for Woods.
As for Zach Brown, there’s no debate he’s a wildly productive player, but it’s my understanding that in his sit-down with coach McDermott prior to free agency, when he was still under contract to the Bills, that they didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things.
Brown is a bit of a loose cannon as a teammate. He also got into shouting matches with former head coach Rex Ryan after games. Last year’s Chiefs game in particular. Whether Brown was right or wrong with his argument with Ryan is immaterial. The fact that he did it in front of the rest of the team and undermined his coach’s authority is just something that would not fly with the new regime.
That’s what I admire about coach McDermott. He’s not afraid to part ways with a talented player if he doesn’t fit the mold of the player type he needs to win his way.
Tags: AFC playoff race, Bills-Patriots, Fan Friday, Matt Milano, Robert Woods, Sean McDermott, Shaq Lawson, Zach Brown
Posted in Inside the Bills