Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't have to think back too far to remember the last time his team got burned by a wounded opponent.
The Miami Dolphins, coming off a 1-15 season, had started out 0-2 when they pulled into Gillette Stadium. That was the afternoon Miami opened up a can of whoopcat and stunned New England 38-13.
So don't for one moment think Belichick is chalking up Monday night's matchup with the Buffalo Bills as a victory.
Buffalo's offense is in chaos. They fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert on Friday and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, whose only play-calling experience was with the Frankfurt Galaxy in 2005.
They released running back Dominic Rhodes on Saturday and dumped left tackle Langston Walker on Tuesday. Marshawn Lynch, who the Bills used a lot in the preseason, has begun a three-game suspension.
On a conference call Tuesday, Belichick was asked how difficult it can be to scout an opponent that has undergone a sudden and significant transformation just before the start of a season.
"I know from experience and from observing other teams and other situations similar to this, you can't really change everything you're doing in a week or in a few days," Belichick said. "You have to take the foundation you have. You might modify it a little bit, but you can't completely overhaul it in a couple of days."
The Bills are hoping a different personality will provide a more favorable interpretation of the same playbook that produced zero touchdowns for their first-team offense on 16 preseason possessions.
Belichick, however, said what the Bills showed in the preseason still provides valuable insight on what the Patriots can expect.
"I'm sure that Buffalo will continue to run a lot of the plays they've already run," Belichick said. "They may cook them up a little bit differently or modify them somewhat based on a different philosophy, but I think it will be pretty consistent with what they're doing.
"Now that being said, I know that going into opening day every team holds back a few things for the start of the regular season that weren't out there in preseason. ... I'm sure they’ll have some wrinkles and things that we won't have prepared for, but at the same time when you've been in training camp and have had 40 practices, by the time you get to opening day there will be a lot of things that you'll be doing in that first game that you will have spent a lot of time on, and hopefully you’ll be able to do well in the regular season when it counts.
"We all know that we're going to have to rely on those things that we've been doing and not cook up a big new game plan -- come out and run the wishbone, do something we haven't done all year -- and think that [we’re] going to even be able to execute it very well."