Today on Season Ticket, host Chris Gasper (@CGasper) welcomes Buffalo Bills reporter Vic Carucci to preview the upcoming Patriots-Bills game, which comes just a few weeks after Rob Gronkowski's dirty hit on Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White.
They discuss White's recent change of tone about the incident, the likelihood of retaliation from Bills players, and Carucci's personal connection to Gronkowski. Then, they break down the playoff implications of the game, how the Bills might slow down the Patriots, and former Patriot star Ty Law's Hall of Fame candidacy.
- Vic Carucci (@VicCarucci), Buffalo Bills Reporter, Buffalo News
On whether the Bills will retaliate for Gronkowski's hit on Tre'Davious White
Vic Carucci: I think there are still lingering hard feelings. How could there not be? ... Those feelings don't just go away instantly. And there were teammates who still have hard feelings about what happened. But, I think it would be so off-character for the mentality, culture that the rookie head coach Sean McDermott has tried to bring to the team—discipline, accountability—all the things that run counter to doing things like getting revenge and perhaps getting a penalty. And this game, in the grand scheme of things for the Bills playoff hopes, means less than the finale at Miami. So, if somebody does something stupid and tries to get revenge on Gronkowski and it results in the same kind of punishment Gronk got, then you're losing that guy potentially for the game that would be more important to their playoff hopes in Miami.
On his personal relationship with Rob Gronkowski
Vic Carucci: I've known Rob for many years and knew him when he was a junior high school guy, actually grammar school ... He hung around in a circle of friends that included my younger daughter. His older brother Dan was in a circle of friends that included my older daughter. And so they went through the whole school systems [together], only Lived a couple of miles from us, and had him at our house for birthdays when the kids were younger and things like that. So, I'm going to speak from from a very personal perspective: it was painful to see that because he had not had that reputation as a player at all ... I spoke with him afterward about it briefly and he gave me his reasons for it. I mean, I don't think frustrations should ever justify that kind of thing. I know he's had time to think about it, reflect on it. I don't think he wants to have that on him as any kind of attachment to a career bio that's been amazing.
"I think it would be so off-character for the mentality ... that rookie head coach Sean McDermott has tried to bring to the team."Vic Carucci, on if the Bills retaliate against Rob Gronkowski
On how the Bills could challenge the Patriots
Vic Carucci: I think the best thing for the Bills, if they've got any prayer in this game, is to play four quarters of the kind of defense that they did play for the better part of three quarters [last game], particularly in the first half. And then the Patriots did what the Patriots always do, they adjusted well, and the Bills did not respond well to those adjustments. But I think they would sign up for keeping Brady from throwing a touchdown pass a second time. What they'd like to do differently, two things: adjust better to the changes that the Pats make offensively, and then get some turnovers. [Defensive coordinator] Leslie Frazier has been preaching all week to his defense "plus-two." Get the plus-two turnover differential, use that as a benchmark, and you're going to win more games than not.
On the attitude in Buffalo when they face the Patriots
Vic Carucci: It has been one of dread for many years. And it has also been one of hope that at some point [the Patriots] are going to get tired of winning all these games and the Super Bowls and just enjoy themselves and leave the Bills alone and let somebody else have a chance in this division. That's kind of been the mentality. There's been a lot of surrender. But, mostly, people love to hate the best. We talk about the 17-year [Bills playoff] drought, the Patriot reign has been commensurate with ... years of futility for Buffalo while the Patriots have enjoyed all that success.
On how the Bills benching quarterback Tyrod Taylor a few weeks ago against the Chargers is evidence of the Patriots' influence
Chris Gasper: They know that Tyrod Taylor is not the guy that can help them unseat and usurp the Patriots in the AFC East. So they end up saying, "Well, we better take a look at Peterman." I think it just shows you how much the Patriots really influence and affect and intimidate to some degree these other teams and their thinking and how they build their teams in their planning. Because again, I think McDermott and Bean are looking at and saying, "All right, Tyrod is not the guy to be able to dethrone the Patriots. We have to find a guy." And it could end up coming back to bite them [if] they don't make the playoffs.