Bills GM: Even without Tom Brady, Patriots are still team to beat in AFC East
Tom Brady has exited the New England Patriots, and the team that has dominated the NFL over the last two decades is looking more vulnerable than ever.
Just don’t tell that to the team poised to overtake the Patriots in the AFC East.
Bills GM: ‘Until we beat [the Patriots], we’ve done nothing’
During a video call with reporters on Thursday, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane had an interesting reaction when asked about the team’s AFC East hopes.
“The team to beat in the East is the Patriots,” Beane told local media during a videoconference Thursday. “And until somebody beats them, they are the team to beat. And as long as Bill Belichick’s there, you’re talking about probably the greatest head coach of all time that was paired with the greatest quarterback of all time.
“So until we beat them, we’ve done nothing, and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The Patriots haven’t lost the AFC East since the Miami Dolphins took the division in 2008, when Brady missed most of the season with an ACL tear.
Since then, the Patriots have dominated the division, and the Bills in particular. Brady’s Patriots career ended with an incredible 32-3 record against Buffalo. Even when the Patriots were flailing and the Bills were surging last season, New England still pulled out a 24-17 win in Week 16.
Even with Brady gone, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick, and veteran playmakers like Stephon Gilmore, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, James White and the McCourty twins, not to mention a massive chip on their shoulders.
“New England is still going to be very good,” Beane said. “You look at what Bill Belichick did in 2008; they got robbed of a playoff. They were 11-5 with Matt Cassel at the helm.
“So I think it’s funny and comical that people are writing them off and labeling — whether it’s us or another team — as the team to beat in the East.”
So it’s hard to blame the Bills for refusing to believe the great Patriots machine is dead until they see it with their own eyes. There’s also probably an element of deliberate modesty at play here, as Beane hardly wants his words plastered all over the New England locker room.
The Bills are probably going to be good next year
Even if the Patriots remain in the NFL’s upper echelon next season, there is plenty of reason to believe the Bills will be right there with them.
The 10-6 Bills reached the playoffs last season and appear to have a long-awaited answer at quarterback with Josh Allen. They’ve added wide receiver Stefon Diggs to shore up one of the biggest weaknesses remaining. Their biggest losses in free agency — defensive linemen Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson — have been offset with the additions of Mario Addison and Vernon Butler.
The Bills showed last year that they have finally found a winning formula between front office, coaching and personnel, and are emerging from the offseason as a clear winner. You would think that’s enough to beat the Patriots, but you never know with Belichick on the other side.
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