Bill Belichick, the Patriots Defense Know What They Have to Do Against Josh Allen and the Bills


Allen had 378 combined yards in the Bills’ Week 16 win over the Patriots.

Josh Allen fooled the Patriots’ defense on several occasions in Week 16. (AP Photo/Steven Sene)

Just three weeks after Josh Allen defeated him in an actual AFC East title game, the Patriots must find a way to stop the Bills star quarterback to survive his season.

The Patriots travel to Buffalo in the wild card round on Saturday to face Allen and the Bills for the third time this season. New England were able to keep Allen under control in the first matchup between the two teams, allowing him to complete just 15 of 30 passes for 145 yards with a touchdown.

But that matchup had winds that hit 55 mph. In the second matchup between the two teams, it appeared that Allen proved that the first game was a fluke due to that wind. In a 33-21 win over the Patriots, Allen completed 30 of 47 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns.

Perhaps the most impressive part of that Week 16 performance was that the Allen and Biles offense not only did turnovers, but they never punt the ball. Key members of the Patriots’ defense recognize Allen and the Bills kicking off the field, something they have to do with the jump.

Patriots cornerback Jesse Jackson said, “It’s always good to start fast, start on your opponents.” “You don’t want to play catchup. It’s always good for us to get off to a good, quick start. We go there for the first series, get a three-and-out – that’s how you want to start a football game. And I think that’s what we need to do.”

“We didn’t make him a punt in the last game, so it was definitely important,” said safety Adrian Phillips. “You get on the last drive with a chance to win and you get them in third place a couple of times and we can’t get off the ground. You saw how the game turned out for us. So, we have to get off the ground and Turnover has to be achieved.”

Alan doesn’t just do his damage in the air. He can also do damage on the ground, sprinting for 722 yards this season. In the previous matchup, Allen ran for 64 yards on 12 carries. Arguably the greatest of his game came on a flamboyant game. On fourth and one and leading by five points, Allen scrambled to his left and pushed the Patriots eight yards ahead to put the defenders in first place.

Jackson was one of the defenders Allen kicked out of that play. He believes that running with the ball is Allen’s best quality, which makes it very difficult to stop.

“You just can’t sleep. You can’t blink your eyes,” said Jackson. “He has a very strong hand. He can scramble out of pocket, throw the ball to the other side of the field. He really can do it all. you know what I’m saying? It’s like playing football in the backyard.”

Phillips agreed with Jackson’s assessment of playing against the mobile quarterback.

“With any type of mobile quarterback, when they come out of pocket, they get scary,” Phillips said. “When those plays are stretched, it gets tough. It makes it a whole lot harder.” [defensive backs] And the people in the coverage.

“It will be important for us to get him off the spot, but also to pocket him. It’s a tough challenge and the guys are really not doing a very good job at it. We were able to beat him earlier in the game, so that’s a good thing.” He got uncomfortable. It’s a tough job.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who believes most of Allen’s runs went as designed, also recognized the challenge of trying to chase Allen with his pocket.

“It’s early, but go through running with discipline and awareness,” Belichick said. “If you miss him and he lets loose, it’s going to be a big problem. You can’t just stand there and watch him throw. It’s not the answer, but being undisciplined and just running around ‘Let him run, that’s also no answer. He’s a tough guy to defend. We have to try to balance what you said: aggressive mobbing with vision and an element of control over him.”

Retaining Allen on the field could be a challenge for New England. Since its 14-week bye week, it is allowed 615 rushing yards in four games at 4.8 yards per game.

Phillips believes the Patriots need to go back to fundamentals so that they don’t fall for Allen and the Biles on Saturday night.

“A lot of our struggles that we’ve been going through lately are more on the technical side and fundamentally stronger,” Phillips said. “If we figure it out – well, we’ll figure it out – we’ll have a better ending.”

Even if the Patriots are able to contain the Bills’ ground game, they will still have their hands full in the passing game. Star wide receiver Stephen Diggs had the Patriots’ number of passes since joining the Bills ahead of the 2020 season, with 26 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns in four matchups.

Jackson, who has been tasked with covering Diggs for most of those matchups, believes Diggs is one of the best receivers in the league. While Jackson wasn’t pushing himself too much in a major matchup, Phillips did reveal what Jackson thought about facing Diggs.

“It’s what he wants,” Phillips said. “He wouldn’t have it any other way. Whoever the top receiver in the league is, he wants to protect that guy. When he gets a chance to go out there and go up against Diggs, he’s locked in. He doesn’t want it any other way.”