“These are important games,” Philbin said in a discussion with The Finsiders. “It’s not only an AFC game, but an AFC East game. You have to play well within your own division when you have high aspirations as we do here. This is our first division game, at home in front of our great crowd. We need to play well.”
And while Buffalo is two games under .500 thus far, the Bills have shown resiliency and have shown promise each week, despite dealing with health issues at the quarterback position.
Last week, Buffalo brought quarterback Thaddeus Lewis off the practice squad to start against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lewis, a Miami native, looked sharp despite the loss, completing 19-of-32 pass attempts for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a touchdown on the ground.
“He seemed to have poise and good command of what they were asking him to do,” Philbin said of Lewis. “He executed well.”
EJ Manuel, who was selected by the Bills with the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft, is currently sidelined with a knee injury. However, Buffalo has a solid run game anchored by C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
“It’s a very good combination of running backs,” Philbin said. “They both have elusiveness, they both have speed, they both have some power. Obviously, Jackson is a little bit bigger, but it’s an excellent tandem and they do a good job. They have a strong commitment to the running game.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us. We need to do an outstanding job of tackling and pursuing to the ball.”
Internally, Philbin admitted fans can expect to see a few tweaks on Sunday, although they will likely appear to be minor to the naked eye.
“Well, we certainly took a lot of time to look at what we’ve done in all three phases of the game,” he said. “We’ll make some adjustments, but it’s difficult in midstream to totally throw out the old and bring in the new. We’re going to add some wrinkles. We’re going to do some things a little bit differently. We’ve studied ourselves—we feel like some tendencies aren’t great where we can adjust those.”
But most of all, Philbin wants his players to do one simple thing: get off to a fast start.
“I want us to get off to a fast start, especially at home,” he said. “We’re playing at home this week and I want our guys ready to go. I want us to get out there and play physical [on] both sides of the ball, make impact plays on special teams and really get out there and start playing downhill, as we like to say, at home.”
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