ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan made the point over and over again in his news conference Tuesday: He thinks the Buffalo Bills are better than the team that fell behind 24 points by the end of the third quarter and by game's end allowed 507 yards to the New England Patriots in Week 2.
"I know we have improved as a football team. I know we have," said Ryan, who then used the phrase "we are better" seven more times while at the podium.
How much better, Ryan said, depends on how the Bills perform against the Patriots when the two teams meet again Monday night. Without a doubt, Buffalo will need to do a better job slowing the Patriots' passing attack, which totaled a Bills franchise-worst 466 yards on 59 passes by Tom Brady.
A staggering 32 of those throws were targeted to either wide receiver Julian Edelman (who finished with 11 catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns) or tight end Rob Gronkowski (who caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown).
Edelman might be lost for at least the next month with a broken foot, but Gronkowski still poses a threat to the Bills' defense. What can the Bills do differently this time around?
"We got a game plan to take him out of the game," cornerback Stephon Gilmore said Tuesday. "We're gonna be ready for him."
That plan could include blitzing Brady and his injury-riddled offensive line more often than the Bills did during their Sept. 20 meeting, when Buffalo blitzed on 30 percent of snaps -- a notch below its 33-percent rate for the entire season.
"They [were] getting to him," Gilmore said of the New York Giants' game plan against Brady last Sunday. "They [were] getting to Tom Brady, getting him off his spot. They [were] sacking him and they are playing tight coverage on the back end. So first of all, you have to get to him to make him mess up."
Ryan expressed less optimism that his pass rush can get to Brady, who averages an NFL-low 2.13 seconds per pass, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"[If] the guy is throwing the ball in under two seconds, it is hard to get pressure on a guy," Ryan said Tuesday. "You know to get sacks and stuff is not going to happen. If he wants it out of his hands, he is going to get it out of his hands, and he did. We got to tighten up what we do coverage wise. There is no question about it. Like I said, we will see how much we improved from that time."
Without Edelman, the Patriots will rely more on Danny Amendola as a second option behind Gronkowski -- and the Bills see Amendola as up for the task.
"Amendola came in there to be the next Wes Welker, and it ended up Julian Edelman was the next Wes Welker," Ryan said. "So they just plug guys in, they do a great job of that, you know into their system and things like that. Hopefully that helps."
"It is going to be different because you know they like to give [Edelman] the ball," Gilmore said. "But [Amendola] can run the same routes he runs. So you've got to be prepared to treat him like [Edelman]."
But are they truly the same player?
"I think Amendola goes deeper more," Gilmore said. "He got a little more speed than Edelman. [But] they run the same routes."