Jerod Mayo will interview with the Denver Broncos for their open head coaching position, but right now all his attention is on the Buffalo Bills and how to slow down talented quarterback Josh Allen. Allen keys the Buffalo offense, who had the Patriots defense on their heels last month in a 33-21 win for Bills in which Allen threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
"Last time we played these guys they had a great game plan, they were very patient, they did a bunch of different things," said Mayo, speaking with the media on Tuesday. "The first time we played them it was kind of unusual circumstances with the weather. We'll see what happens this time around, obviously, these are two different teams and what happened in the past, you look at those games but this is a game in itself."
It isn't just Allen's arm that did the Patriots in last time, as he also ran for 64 yards on 12 carries. His balanced game poses a difficult quandary for any defense.
"Any time you have a mobile quarterback you wanna be aggressive, especially when you have guys that are good at rushing the passer, but at the same time you know anytime you have a mobile quarterback back there who can scramble to run or scramble to throw, you want to try to keep that guy in the pocket, said Mayo. "There's definitely a balance to it and it's definitely difficult against a guy like Josh Allen."
"With every mobile quarterback, you've got to do a good job of making sure you have a balanced and sound rush but at the same time aggressive and not passive to get pressure," said defensive line coach Demarcus Covington.
Apart from Allen's talent, there was a major difference for the Partriots defense in the two games against him. In the first Adrian Phillips and Myles Bryant combined to break up the final pass attempts of the game as the Pats closed out the victory.
But in the rematch, the defense was unable to get that kind of key stop, a problem that has haunted the Patriots in all seven of their defeats this season. After the offense closed the score to 26-21 with over seven minutes left to play, the defense watched Allen and the Bills march down the field on a 13-play, touchdown-scoring drive that ate up over five minutes of clock, effectively ending the game.
Fixing that recurring issue might just be the Patriots best chance at knocking off Buffalo and making a playoff run.
"I wish there was a switch or a magic pill we could take but there is no magic pill we just have to play better in those critical situations," said Mayo. "That's definitely been something that's been frustrating all year for us when you look at from the beginning of the season to now, it's been frustrating giving up some of those drives and not be able to get the ball back to the offense. We're trying to figure it out."