Scout’s Review: Bills vs. Patriots

by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

Going into yesterday’s Bills – Patriots game it was just about a must-win situation for the Bills if they are going to make it to the Playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Bills need to win at least nine games to have a shot at a wild card spot, and even that might not be enough. With the loss to the Patriots, the Bills need to win at least three of their next four games.

The Bills game opening drive looked to be a thing of perfection before disaster stuck. The Bills drove 66 yards and used up over seven minutes of clock getting down to the New England six yard line. On 1st and goal, Tyrod Taylor threw into quadruple coverage at the goal line and the pass was intercepted. On a drive that could have set the tone of the game, the Bills faltered and never really were in it after that.

Good Defense Not Enough

The Bills defense played well in the opening half but New England made the proper halftime adjustments and controlled the game in the second half. One of the problems the Bills had was similar to what we have seen in recent weeks. They couldn’t stop the run. Despite the Bills long opening drive, the Patriots held on to the ball for over 34 minutes and rushed for 191 yards on just 35 carries. That’s a 5.5 average per carry. You can’t win in the National Football League giving up that kind of yardage on the ground.

The Patriots were able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and that was the story of the game. What this game showed us is how far the Bills are behind the Patriots. If the Bills are going to compete with the Patriots in the future, they have to strengthen both lines as well as stabilize the quarterback situation. Going into the off season, that will be a primary need for the Bills in both free agency and the Draft.

Taylor Time Over?

Tyrod Taylor has shown again that he can’t play with any consistency from week to week. Granted, the knee injury he sustained on the opening play of the game affected his performance some but still he only completed 9 of 18 throws for a mere 65 yards. As has been the case all year, he is slow to get the ball out of his hand and struggles to find open receivers downfield.

Taylor was replaced by Nate Peterman in the fourth quarter when his knee tightened up.  Though Peterman didn’t fare well, he still showed that he can make decisions and get the ball out of his hand far quicker than Taylor. With added experience, Peterman is easily an upgrade over Taylor regardless of how he played in Los Angeles two games ago.

Saddle Up

Nest week the Bills host the struggling Indianapolis Colts. At this time its uncertain if Taylor will be able to play but if his knee is going to prevent him from moving around than he shouldn’t play. Peterman will most likely give the Bills the best chance to win as we know he can play from the pocket batter than Taylor can.

With the loss to the Patriots, the Bills have to beat Indianapolis or they are done as far as being a playoff contender for 2017. The Bills defense has to play like they did last week in Kansas City not yesterday versus New England. That means stopping the run and getting consistent pressure on the Jacoby Brissett.

That won’t be an easy task as the Bills could be without rookie start Tre’Davious White and defensive end Shaq Lawson who were both injured yesterday. We won’t know until later in the week what their status is.


Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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