Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA;  Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Deone Bucannon (20) dives to try and make a tackle on Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Cardinals 33-18. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) during the second half Sunday. Bills beat the Cardinals 33-18. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Stopping the run sounds like such a fundamentally easy concept.

With the Buffalo Bills, it’s anything but. On Sunday, the Bills ran roughshod over the Cardinals defense in a 33-18 win at New Era Field in Orchard Park that interjected a much-needed shot of life into the team from Western New York.

LeSean McCoy ran just 17 times but totaled 110 yards, including touchdown runs of 24 and five yards. Their quarterback, the newly minted Tyrod Taylor finally paid dividends, running the ball nine times for 76 yards, including a 49-yard gallop and a 20-yard touchdown run.

Even Mike Gillislee, the third-year back out of Florida (second in Buffalo), made his 2016 debut, carrying three times for 20 yards.

In all, the Bills ran 32 times for 208 yards. It’s a big reason why the Bills are averaging 4.7 yards per carry over the first three weeks, fourth best in the NFL. All of these numbers should not come as a surprise as Rex Ryan is the Bills head coach.

“It’s a very complex run game,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. “It has a lot of different facets to it. It has both zone and a scheme element to it, along with the quarterback run. And certainly, when you take a look at the guys up front, they do a great job of blocking and staying on their blocks. They’re big and strong and they drive guys off the ball. They do a great job of just staying with it.”

“Their running game definitely gives you a lot of problems,” Belichick said Monday. “The overall scheme that they employ is challenging as well with the read-option scheme, zone schemes, and then some blocking scheme plays. Double teams, pullers, combination blocks; they have all of that. I also thought that Gillislee gave them some good, strong runs in some short-yardage and red area type situations as well. Obviously, McCoy is as good as it gets. The production that he has had is outstanding so he’s a very difficult guy to handle. So yeah, they give you a lot of different problems there between, like I said, not only the players but also the different schemes that they employ.”

“Ground and Pound” has always been a Rex Ryan staple and now, with first-year offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn re-joining Ryan in Buffalo after serving as Ryan’s running backs coach, the philosophy is more prevalent than ever.

“One thing definitely with their offense, both with Coach Lynn and also Rex, they’re going to stay with the run game and they’re going to keep coming after you,” Patricia said. “It’s something you constantly have to be able to defend on all down and distances, which is always very difficult.”

Six of Buffalo’s nine top plays Sunday were runs, three to the left, two to the right and one up the middle.

“As far as the run game is concerned with Buffalo, it’s a very explosive, big-play run game and the additional threat that you now have to deal with is the quarterback. So, obviously Taylor out in space is an issue. We saw that in the game [Sunday], and combined with McCoy, who has tremendous burst and speed and excellent vision, even Gillislee, when he was in the game. So, I think that the combination of making sure that you obviously have good force, can set the edge and do all the things on the defense that you need to do.

“I’ll think also what you saw from the film the other day was their ability to run inside. They do a great job of mixing the schemes, there’s zone schemes, there’s cap schemes. They’ll do both. They have pullers from both across the ball and the same side of the ball. So they’re trying to create some divide or separation in the defense and really give those backs or even the quarterback to make some room. They can turn those plays into obviously into very fast, quick big-play touchdown-like explosive runs.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 27-0 over the Texans last Thursday and also to look ahead to this Sunday’s game against the Bills To hear the interview, go to the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

The Patriots were able to blowout the Texans Thursday night with rookie third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett leading the way. Edelman said any time the team wins a game it feels good, no matter what the circumstances are.

“Any time you get a win in this league it feels unbelievable,” Edelman said. “When you’re down a player with a guy hurt, or a guy is not playing who is a big-time player and you scrap and get a win, that’s just showing the mental toughness of a team. Of course it’s good, but winning any game in this league — it doesn’t matter who is there or who is not there — it’s so satisfying because you put so much time and effort into that one game. It’s not like other sports where you can take off five games and you can take off a game here and there, every game matters in the National Football League. Regardless of the situation, it’s always fun and the team is excited to get a win.

“On the other note, you have to move on because there’s only 16 games. It’s fun for those couple hours and that day or so and the long weekend because of the baby bye weekend, but you have to move on and we have a division game staring us right in the face against a team that got a big time win over a good opponent last week. It’s fun, but you have to get back to work.”

Edelman gave credit to the coaching staff for getting everyone to buy in and also talked about how the winning attitude is apparent throughout the organization.

“We have a coaching staff that works its tails off and what they are really good at is taking the players they have and using their strengths and going out and being able to call a game,” he said. “I’ll tell you right now, it’s not just the coaching staff, it’s also the players and the guys buying in. It’s the attitudes of everyone — the equipment guys, the people that are cooking for us — it’s just like a good attitude right now. That’s what winning does. It gets that whole complementary style and it’s what we’re trying to do.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

On Bill Belichick’s coaching style: “When you’re in New England, what coach does is he does a great job of making us — we ignore the whole outside of the world. I don’t even know what news is going on in the world — which is terrible — or something that goes down because you’re so focused on the game plan that week, what we have to do, our emphasis, taking care of your body, this, that. It’s a lot easier to get information now with Twitter, Instagram and all that stuff, but he does such a good job of helping out the young guys and guys like myself to not believing in hype.”

On he and Danny Amendola being on a recent episode of HBO’s ‘Ballers’: “It was fun. I know [Mark] Wahlberg and Steve Levinson and those guys. They are cool guys and they were trying to get that show going and they asked us to do something. We had a blast going in there and seeing how they run their ship when they are making TV shows and stuff like that.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat — a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer or coach might have in said pass catcher. With all that in mind, here’s a look at the target breakdown through the first three games of the regular season.

WR Danny Amendola: 9 catches on 10 targets (90 percent)
WR Julian Edelman: 18 catches on 24 targets (75 percent)
TE Martellus Bennett: 10 catches on 14 targets (71 percent)
RB James White: 8 catches on 12 targets (67 percent)
WR Chris Hogan: 8 catches on 13 targets (62 percent)
WR Malcolm Mitchell: 4 catches on 9 targets (44 percent)
RB D.J. Foster: 1 catch on 2 targets (50 percent)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 catch on 1 target (100 percent)
WR Matthew Slater: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 1 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

In his last 19 regular-season games, Amendola has caught 74 of the last 97 passes thrown in his direction for a remarkable 76.3 percent catch rate. It’s the highest rate for any wide receiver with at least 90 targets in that span. For the record, Keenan Allen at 76 percent and Doug Baldwin at 75.4 percent are just off the pace. In that same span, Julian Edelman has a 71.2 percent catch rate, second-best among the Patriots’ receivers.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

On Thursday, the Patriots were whistled for three penalties for 15 yards, not counting flags that were declined or offset. Heading into Monday Night Football, New England has been hit with 18 penalties (13th fewest in the league) for 149 yards (12th fewest in the league) on the season. Here’s a breakdown of the flags that have gone against the Patriots after three regular season games:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost
OL Joe Thuney: 3 (2 offensive holding, 1 false start), 25 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: 2 (offensive holding, false start) 15 yards
CB Logan Ryan: 1 (defensive pass interference), 20 yards
LB Jamie Collins: 1 (leaping), 15 yards
OL Shaq Mason: 1 (offensive holding), 10 yards
TE Martellus Bennett: 1 (offensive holding), 10 yards
OL David Andrews: 1 (tripping), 10 yards
OL Ted Karras: 1 (offensive holding), 9 yards
P Ryan Allen: 1 (delay of game), 5 yards
TE AJ Derby: 1 (false start), 5 yards
CB Malcolm Butler: 1 (defensive holding), 5 yards
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 (delay of game), 5 yards
LB Jonathan Freeny: 1 (defensive holding), 5 yards
LB/ST Barkevious Mingo: 1 (false start), 5 yards
Team/ST: 1 (12 men on the field), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Offensive line: 8 penalties, 69 yards
Special teams: 3 penalties, 15 yards
Cornerback: 2 penalties, 25 yards
Linebacker: 2 penalty, 20 yards
Tight end: 2 penalties, 15 yards
Quarterback: 1 penalty, 5 yards

Most frequently called penalties
Offensive holding: 6
False start: 4
Delay of game: 2
Defensive holding: 2
Leaping: 1
Defensive pass interference: 1
Tripping: 1
12 men on the field: 1

By way of comparison, through three games in 2015, the Patriots had 22 penalties for 213 yards. And in 2014, through the first three games, the Patriots had 30 penalties for 322 yards.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Kirk and Callahan with Mut welcome Patriots Monday guest Tim Hasselbeck to talk NFL QBs including the Brady / Jimmy G situation.

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[0:12:33] ... golf course not. But I think he's the most important piece. Not Tim Hasselbeck is brought to you by my pillow Cadillac of norte in New England -- lost him great job and will hang up ...






Kirk and Callahan with Mut welcome Patriots Monday guest Tim Hasselbeck to talk NFL QBs including the Brady / Jimmy G situation.

[0:00:00] ... Tim Hasselbeck joins us a conversation with Tim brought you by knowing that fat loss Cadillac of Norwood and by my pillow team good ...
[0:06:16] ... like chocolate though that your main it's not not saying that Jimmy rob Lowe's good football player. What I'm saying is that that what I've watched black press got. An haven't watched them on college you ...
[0:11:19] ... against crop. I it is now time for a pillow talk. With Tim Hasselbeck brought to you by my pillow Cadillac of Norway in new wings and use the fat loss I've been handed this he's now brought to you with pillow talk with him out of tens of no it. You guys do a pillow talk every week on the show. I'll we're debating back and forth telecheck and Brady commit leads you to this. Your choice pick one Tom Brady and a mediocre coach or Bill Belichick and a mediocre quarterback. Unsecured go telecheck this is writing oh how we've started. You know we restarted. You know very it ...
[0:12:33] ... golf course not. But I think he's the most important piece. Not Tim Hasselbeck is brought to you by my pillow Cadillac of norte in New England -- lost him great job and will hang up ...






Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, checking in with Kirk & Callahan on Monday morning, heaped praise on Bills coach Rex Ryan, who already has started talking tough as the teams prepare for next Sunday’s matchup in Foxboro.

Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, checking in with Kirk & Callahan on Monday morning, heaped praise on Bills coach Rex Ryan, who already has started talking tough as the teams prepare for next Sunday’s matchup in Foxboro. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

After his Bills knocked off the Cardinals on Sunday, Ryan said he doesn’t care who starts behind center for the Patriots, his team will come at the QB regardless.

McDaniels took the high road.

“I have a lot of respect for Rex, and what he says is usually the truth,” McDaniels told K&C. “They’ll blitz, they’ll bring a lot of different packages each week to try to disrupt the quarterback, whichever team he’s playing. They obviously played very well yesterday against Arizona.

“We’re going to have to be ready for all that stuff, because he always keeps you on your toes, makes it difficult. Certainly one of the best defensive coaches that we’ll ever play against. His team played very well yesterday.”

With Jimmy Garropolo and Jacoby Brissett nursing injuries, McDaniels said it isn’t clear who will be calling signals next Sunday.

“I don’t know that. I haven’t seen them in a few days,” he said. “Hopefully all those guys continue to get better. We’ll see them tomorrow. Hopefully they’re all ready to go. That would be the goal, that would be the hope as we head into this week. But as of right now, I don’t know that.”

There were reports that the Patriots are prepared to let receiver Julian Edelman take snaps if necessary. McDaniels hinted that the speculation is accurate, although there’s much more to it.

“You have to have somebody ready to go, and Julian’s certainly been in that position before,” McDaniels said. “There’s always a couple of other things you can do in terms of there’s a lot of schemes that are available to people if that situation should ever come up, whether that be putting a running back back there in the wildcat, which we’ve seen a number of teams do, or something like that. It might not have been one thing, it might have been multiple, different things that we try at that point. But we had more than one guy who was ready to go if we needed to be in that situation.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On receiving credit for Thursday’s game plan that led to the rout of the Texans: “I think we enjoy it together as a group, as a team. Our staff worked extremely hard. We’ve got a great staff here. They get their players ready to play. Our players, this is a really fun group to work with. It’s a great group to coach. They’re unselfish, they come to work, they work hard, they’ve got high character. It’s a smart group that embraces the challenges that’s ahead of them. I thought last week, for a short week and the process is so crammed, that it really made it fun. We enjoy trying to prepare for a really good team with only three days. You get out there and you hopefully you let the players do things that they do well, play fast. The results are because our players made the players that they needed to make. That’s the fun part, to me, is to watch those guys go out there and do well and execute and have fun together. Those are the times that you really enjoy being a football coach.”

On if he expects to be a head coach soon: “I love where I’m at. I’ve said before that I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and eventually move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn’t. But I know this, is I’m really thankful I have the opportunity I have to coach the players that we have here, and to work underneath Bill [Belichick] and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It’s a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. I’m just thankful I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week. It’s a great honor to do that. Like I said, I enjoy it so much working with these guys here each week.”

On having to deal with the media: “You guys are the best. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.”

On if the 64-year-old Belichick might continue to coach into his 70s: “It wouldn’t surprise me. I know Bill loves football. His drive and passion for the game and to try to everything we can to prepare out team to win each week, I haven’t seen one change in it. Like I said, it’s a great privilege to coach for him. Certainly he kind of sets the tone for us. I don’t see any difference in that from when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him as long as he’ll let me.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
LeGarrette Blount ran for 71 yards in the win over the Cardinals. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots run game has been helped by great blocking so far in 2016. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Through three weeks, no team has run it better than the New England Patriots.

They are averaging 150.7 yards per game and 4.19 yards each time they don’t pass. Those two stats are key reasons why they are 3-0 without Tom Brady.

For all the credit the offensive line and coach Dante Scarnecchia has rightfully earned over the first three games for their efforts in run blocking, the key to the production might very well lie on the outside.

Tight end Martellus Bennett was a huge factor in the run game in the win over the Cardinals.

“I was just trying to whoop their ass all day,” the tight end said after the Patriots ran for 106 yards on 31 carries in a Week 1 win.

In wins over the Dolphins and Texans, LeGarrette Blount bounced outside several times, including a run of 26 yards against the Dolphins and dashes of 41 and 14 yards against the Texans. Jacoby Brissett even raced outside for a 27-yard touchdown run.

The runs to the outside aren’t successful without a combination of the offensive line doing its job at the initial point of attack and the tight ends and receivers blocking at the secondary or perimeter levels.

Malcolm Mitchell executed a block downfield that sprung Brissett into the end zone. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were big factors on Thursday night. Rob Gronkowski has always taken great pride in his blocking, and is rightfully considered one of the premiere blocking tight ends in football.

Receivers coach Chad O’Shea and tight ends coach Brian Daboll have set the tone in the classroom and practice field. The players have bought in during games.

“I think the coaches and the players have all worked very hard on that,” Belichick said during his conference call Sunday. “You know, the running game, it’s really two ways. I mean even if – first of all the offensive line and the point of attack guys have to do their job whether that’s the tight ends, the fullback, the offensive line, but in order to break long runs you either have to have an exceptional run by the runner, or he breaks tackles, or makes somebody miss, or great blocking downfield by the receivers, or could possibly be another player but usually receivers when they get the secondary players that keep those runs to six, seven, eight, nine yards.

“So, somewhere between the runner and the downfield blockers or a combination of both we’ve been able to do that and it creates some explosive plays in the running game. The players do a good job, the coaches work on it, and we’ve been able to get the combination of, as I said, both between good running and good blocking at the second level. Obviously, you have to have it at the first level to get the play started but we’ve had good effort on those second level plays. It’s the same thing in the return game; getting the returners started and then the returner or making a guy miss or somebody getting a second block or somebody getting a key block to spring that 10-yard return and make it into a more explosive play. Extra effort and good running – that’s where those plays come from.”

Gronkowski, Edelman and Amendola are all known for their big-play capability. But when they block, they set an example that other younger and new players like Mitchell and Chris Hogan are following.

“Yeah, it’s good. It’s good. They do whatever you ask them to do, whether its run the ball, catch the ball, block, and most of the time they’re obviously blocking guys bigger than them; safeties, linebackers,” Belichick said of Edelman and Amendola in particular. “Sometimes they’re on the corners but most of the time they’re on safeties or linebackers. Sometimes occasionally defensive ends but they come in there with a lot of toughness and grit and that really helps our team.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Rex Ryan and the Bills will face the Patriots next Sunday in Foxboro. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)Let’s start the week with a not-so-bold prediction: The Patriots are going to beat the Bills next Sunday at Gillette and move to 4-0.