Bills @ Patriots REPORT CARD
posted at 9/26/2010 6:56 PM EDT
Sorry...but don't expect me to get excited over this win at home over "the mighty" Buffalo Bills! Other than the "Mighty One", are any of you ready to reserve February flights to Dallas, after seeing this performance? Let the Patriots go into Miami and beat the Dolphins next week, and maybe we'll have something to be positive about. Can any of you remember the last time that the Patriots went on the road and beat a good team?
Here are my grades:A.) OFFENSE:
Aside from a dropped pass or two, and a horrible fumble by Brandon Tate, the Brady Boys were, as expected, back on track this week against the woeful Bills.
Tom Brady bounced back nicely from his awful performance against the Jets, completing 21 of 27 passes for 252 yards, 3 TDs, and no picks. Overall, the offense accounted for 445 total yards, and 25 first downs. Six different players contributed with a reception of 21 yards or more...and the running game for a change did its part. All served to provide Tom with a relatively comfortable afternoon in the pocket. When Brady is able to run play-action passes, as was the case today, he's virtually unstoppable. GRADE: A;
BenJarvis Green-Ellis may have staked a claim to the starting RB job with a hard-running, 16 carry, 98 yard performance. Danny Woodhead did a great Kevin Faulk impersonation with 42 yards on just 3 carries, and a TD...while Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris were reduced to cameo roles. Perhaps the addition of a good, young RB would serve to make Tom Brady far more effective, and extend his career.GRADE: B+;
Other than some inexcusable false start penalties, a strong performance from the men up front. They opened holes for the RBs, and provided ample time for the "Terrific One" to work his magic:GRADE: A-;
4.) TEs and WRs:
If he remains healthy, Rob Gronkowski may develop into a pro-bowl caliber TE. He appears to be both a punishing blocker, and a guy who will blossom into a dependable target across the middle. He has already shown his worth in the red zone. Aaron Hernandez had another solid game as a receiver, hauling in 6 passes for 65 yards. As for the WRs, though Randy Moss caught only two balls, both were for TDs. Moss climbed to second on the all-time TD receptions list with 151, second only to Jerry Rice's 197. Wes Welker had 4 catches for 45 yards, but one 8 yard grab kept the game clinching TD drive alive. Bad fumble after catch by Brandon Tate, which helped allow the Bills to "hang around":GRADE: B+
Sorry, kool-aiders...but this unit is terrible. Today they allowed the worst offense in the NFL to gain 374 total yards, and score 23 points (7 more came on a kick-off return...discussed below). When you consider that all of this was accomplished by Buffalo in less than 28 minutes of offense...YUCK!! The "D" nearly allowed former Havard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to pull off an upset. I find that rather upsetting.
The Bills rushed 24 times for 134 yards...an average of 5.6 yards per rush. Vince Wilfolk did not make the stats sheet. Need I say more?GRADE: D-;
Jerod Mayo led the team in tackles with nine, including six solos, and one sack. Gary Guyton chipped in with 5 tackles, and four solos. As usual, there was little production from the OLBs...although Jermaine Cunningham was credited with a QB hit:GRADE: C;
Though interceptions by Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather sealed the deal, this group allowed "The Great Fitzie" to complete 20 of 28 passes for 247 yards, and two TDs...one of which was a 37 yard completion late in the 4th quarter, against Devin McCourtey, who was playimg in a very soft zone defense. This allowed the Bills to get back in the game, at 38-30. Some good run support, especially by Chung. But, you have to wonder how this game would have turned out if this group was facing a legitimate NFL QB:GRADE: C- C.) SPECIAL TEAMS:
Whenever a team gives up a TD on a kick return, it's a disaster. Such was the case today. After the Pats had gone up, 24-16, on a beautiful 35 yard Brady to Moss hook-up...this unit allowed the dangerous C.J. Spiller to return a kick-off 95 yards. The return seemingly turned the momentum of the game in favor of the Bills. But, fortunately, the Brady Boys proved to be too much for the Buffalo "D" to overcome. I don't have the same confidence in "The Ghost" as I once had. But, Gostkowski did nail a clutch 43 yarder to put the Pats ahead at halftime, 17-16...saving his squad from what certainly would have been a chorus of boos. Other than Spiller TD return, the kick coverage was good...and Brandon Tate continues to do a good job on kick-off returns. So ineffective was the Patriots' defense that the Bills only had to punt once, all afternoon. Punter Zoltan Mesko averaged a Hanson-esque 37 yards per punt, including a 36 yarder, which set up the Bills in decent field position for their last gasp drive:GRADE: C- D.) COACHING:
The coverage schemes that are being employed are not working. There comes a point where you can only do so much with "scheming". After that, talent, or lack thereof, dictates success or failure. The CB combinations of Devin McCourtey, Darius Butler, Whilite, and Arrington did not get it done, yet again. This, along with the teams' failure to generate a pass-rush, is proving to be a deadly combination. If that weren't bad enough, the Pats aren't stopping the run, either.
I don't know what can be done...other than await the 2011 draft...and re-load at DE, OLB, RB, and, yes...CB. Next week at Miami will give a true indication as to whether this team can contend in their division...or if this season should merely be looked upon as a rebuilding year.GRADE: C+
E.) PLAY OF THE GAME:
Hard to pick one play, as this game was decided by a lot of "little-big plays", like the Tom Brady 9 yard scramble to keep the game clinching drive alive on a 3rd and 6...and later in that same drive, when Brady converted on another 3rd and 6, with an 8 yard pass to Wes Welker. But, if I have to pick one play, I'll go with the 35 yard Brady to Moss TD pass early in the 3rd quarter, which gave the Pats a 24-16 lead.F.) PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=300926017