Gailey says Bills looking to improve

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Gailey says Bills looking to improve

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- Though their 2-0 records are identical, coach Chan Gailey says his Bills and the Patriots are very different teams. No kidding. It wasn't expressed as a statement -- there's no need, with New England holding a 15-0 series advantage since 2003. It was in the way he described each, independently of one another.

"They do a great job," Gailey said of the Patriots Wednesday. "And it looks like it doesn't matter who they plug in where, they do a great job. Everybody's on the same page. That's almost the highest compliment you can give to an offense is when everybody's on the same page.

"Obviously, that has a lot to do with Tom Brady and the way he runs the offense. He's a great quarterback when you look at physical talent. But he's even better when you see the way he manages the game and controls the tempo and does all the little things to help his team be successful."

Gailey's 2010 arrival in Buffalo was nothing like the dramatic entrance of, say, Rex Ryan in New York. There were no booming promises of Super Bowl trips, no delusions of -- or even allusions to -- grandeur. With just one season over .500 since 2004, the Bills' coaching search was long and it was painful; the team swung and missed on interviews more than once before landing Gailey.

You can see how, where the Patriots strive for dominance, Buffalo hopes for . . . improvement.

"I know one thing: If you lose you don't stay in this business very long," Gailey said. "If you win, sometimes people think you're better than you really are. The key is to try to do your best each week and help your team improve. We've gotten better personnel, our guys understand our systems better and we've been fortunate to win two games."

Here he sounds a bit modest.

The Bills actually look like a better team this season. They didn't just squeak through the first two weeks, they put up the numbers to lead the NFL in average rushing yards (190.0 per game), points per game (39.5), and touchdowns (10).

It makes more sense that Gailey is being cautious. Vanquished Week 1 opponent, Kansas City, isn't exactly the same kind of competitor as New England.

"I think everybody's excited and looking forward to it, but we're in a society of 'What have you done for me lately?' And it's been good the first two weeks and you've got to keept p it going or things turn in a hurry. We have to concentrate each and every week to win ourselves a ballgame. We're not a dominant team yet and we hope to be there one day. But we're blue collar, going to work everyday and we're just trying to get better," he said.

"I think our guys understand about hard work, they understand about going out and getting better each day and they also have learned the systems better. Like I said earlier, too, we've picked up some good players that have helped us on both sides of the ball. When everybody gets closer to the same page you give yourself a chance to be more successful."

A win on Sunday would be a huge step in the right direction. But Gailey isn't looking for the Bills to define themselves by Week 3, no matter what the outcome.

There's a long way yet to go.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Belichick explains matching in the secondary

Belichick explains matching in the secondary

FOXBORO – Here’s a leftover from last week I’m dredging up because it’s really instructive in giving insight to something we all flap our arms about: how the Pats decide whether to play zone, man-to-man or match receivers with their secondary.

The jumping off-point was asking about Trumaine Johnson -- a long-tall corner for the Rams. As Belichick about Johnson and the difficulties he poses, at 6-foot-2, it brought to mind the team’s acquisition earlier this season of Eric Rowe. The 6-2 corner they got from the Eagles filled a need in that the Patriots other corners are not very tall, headlined by 5-9 Malcolm Butler.

So I asked Belichick if the team strives to have different sized players in the secondary.

“That’s if you move them around,” he explained, meaning size only matters if you intend to put size-on-size. “If you don’t move them around, if you play a guy at one positon and he plays on the right side or the left side, you cover the guy that’s over there, which I’d say is more the situation than not. There are some teams or some situations where you’ve got him, he’s got the next guy, you’ve got somebody else, but I’d say that’s by far the lower percentage of the plays, by far. Generally, you see a corner play – some games are different. We’ll match to this guy and somebody else matches to that guy. Teams will do that. There’s some of that, but by and large, most teams play at one position and whoever is in that spot, that’s who they cover.”

With matching receivers being the exception rather than the rule, the next logical question is why? Why would you let a little guy cover a big guy if you also have a big guy who could cover?

Because offenses make it complicated, Belichick answered.

“The easiest thing in the world is for one player to match another,” he explained. “‘OK, you go cover this guy.’ Alright, great. But what do the other 10 guys do? That’s the problem. It’s easy to matchup one guy. That’s simple. What do the other 10 guys do? What if he’s here? What if he’s there? What if he goes in motion? What if he’s in the backfield? What if it’s this personnel? What if it’s that personnel in the game? Then how does all the rest of it matchup? That’s where it gets tricky.  You can be spending all day, literally, on that. OK yeah, you take this guy but what are you going to do with the other 10?”

Belichick also delved into other options including a coverage concept the Pats used when Darrelle Revis was here. Giving Revis the opponent’s so-called No. 2 receiver and doubling the No. 1.

“You can matchup and put your best guy on their best guy, or you can matchup and put your best guy on let’s call it their second best guy and put your second best guy on their best guy and double him,” Belichick said. “If you’re going to put your best guy on their best guy and double him anyway then you kind of lessen the matchups down the line. It’s like setting a tennis ladder, or whatever. If you put your bad guy at one and you win two through seven, great. If you put your best guy at one and he gets beat by their one and then your two versus their two, you know. That’s what you’re doing. You have a three to four-man ladder there with the receivers and your DB’s [defensive backs], except we don’t have to match them that way. You can match them however you want.”

It’s a fascinating discussion and it comes into play the next two weeks as the Patriots will see a true test with receivers like the Ravens Steve Smith and Denver with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.

The Patriots will have decisions to make. Chances are they’ll use a little bit of everything. But these are some of the the things they weight when doing so.

Call-up coming? Belichick likes what he's seen from p-squad receivers

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Call-up coming? Belichick likes what he's seen from p-squad receivers

The Patriots find themselves in a difficult spot following Sunday's win over the Rams: They are a team that likes to lean on three-receiver sets, yet they have only three healthy receivers.

Danny Amendola suffered an ankle injury during a punt return over the weekend that further thinned an already thin position group. The healthy receivers left on the depth chart are Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and rookie Malcolm Mitchell.

The Patriots will in all likelihood make an addition to their 53-man roster at some point in order to bolster their depleted receiving group, and in a way, they've been preparing for this.

With just four true receivers on the active roster, the team has been adding and subtracting wieoutes on their practice squad for much of the year. They began the season with rookie seventh-round pick Devin Lucien and fourth-year wideout Devin Street on the p-squad. On Sept. 14, they added DeAndrew White as a third receiver on the 10-man unit, giving them a relatively unusual amount of practice-squad depth at one spot. 

After Street was signed away by the Colts, the Patriots gave practice-squad shots to Da'Ron Brown and Shaquelle Evans. Neither of those players stuck, but Lucien and White have.

"I think they’ve made good progress . . . They both have been consistent," Bill Belichick said during a conference call on Tuesday. "They’ve been out there every day. They work hard. They’ve made plays for us in practice on the scout team against our defense, so overall our guys on the practice squad do a good job.

"They certainly help us get ready for the games by simulating our opponent’s schemes and playing styles and at the same time they’ve improved with their individual skills and techniques. Both of those guys – they’ve done a good job for us."

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss reported on Sunday that the Patriots voluntarily increased the salary of White (from the minimum of $6,900 per week to $10,000 per week), perhaps an indicator that he's the favorite as a call-up to the 53-man roster.

White, who has been named one of New England's practice players of the week three times this season, is in his second year out of Alabama. He was signed by San Francisco in May of 2015 as an undrafted free agent, and he played in four games as a rookie, catching two passes for 18 yards. He also returned six kicks and returned one punt for the 49ers.

There are free-agent options available to the Patriots should they choose to go that route.

Keshawn Martin, who was released by the Niners on Nov. 8 and is a free agent, could be an attractive option given his punt-return experience and his understanding of the Patriots system. Others who are out there and have spent time with the Patriots include Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington and Kenbrell Thompkins.

Should the Patriots feel as though they would be straining to add a receiver to the 53-man roster, they could find some help with the depth they have at running back. Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster are all capable pass-catchers who have the ability to line up wide or in the slot. Foster, who was a college teammate of Lucien's for one season, played receiver as a senior at Arizona State.