FOXBORO -- Now that we know it's Jacoby Brissett who will be behind center for the Patriots and not Jimmy Garoppolo, we can make a few educated guesses as to how the Patriots offense will run.
Brissett, as he showed last Thursday against the Texans, has a unique skill set that differs from that of Garoppolo or Tom Brady. As a result, and in order to take advantage of Brissett's skills, the Patriots offense will adapt.
Here's how things might look when the rookie third-round pick takes on the Bills and their defensive-minded coach Rex Ryan.
-- Another heavy dose of Blount: The Patriots have attempted more running plays than any other team in the league, and LeGarrette Blount has taken more handoffs than any other back in the league through three weeks. The 6-foot, 250-pound bruiser has made the most of his opportunities as he leads the league in rushing and has found the end zone four times. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September as the Patriots have relied on his hard-charging style with Brady and Garoppolo out. With Brissett in line to receive his second career start, that should continue on Sunday.
-- Boots, roll-outs and waggles: Brissett isn't one of the fastest players on the team. In fact, he's not even close. He checked in with a 4.94-second 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. He knows how to use his legs, however, and the Patriots weren't afraid to take advantage of that aspect of his game against Houston. Brissett ran for a 27-yard score on a designed run against the Texans, and he also successfully ran a counter triple-option out of the pistol. He may not have timed speed, but the speed he does have worked against an athletic defense in Week 3. The Patriots could call for similar types of plays against the Bills, getting Brissett to shift the pocket, roll out, make throws on the run, or tuck and run himself. Sometimes those types of plays can simplify a quarterback's reads, and given Brissett's relative inexperience, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and coach Bill Belichick will look to make him as comfortable as possible. Brissett has also proven to be an adept ball-handler, something McDaniels said is an underrated aspect of quarterback play, so play-action passes and misdirection runs could factor in as part of the game plan as well.
-- Protect the football: The Patriots were very conservative with Brissett when it came to their passing game against Houston. He attempted just 19 passes, and very few of those were contested shots deep down the field. With more time in between games to prepare, the Patriots could look to challenge Brissett with more responsibilities as a passer, but they'll likely ask him to take care of the football above all else.
-- Speed things up: Say what you will about Rex Ryan's abilities as a coach, but he has proven to be able to mix up his defensive pressure schemes as well as any coach in the league. That could pose a problem for a rookie who has played a game-and-a-half of professional regular-season football in his life. In order to combat whatever it is Ryan has dialed up for Brissett, McDaniels could ask the 23-year-old to play with pace. Going with a no-huddle or hurry-up offense makes it difficult on opposing defenses to receive play-calls from the sidelines and it stresses on-field communication. It also makes it very difficult to substitute. That may allow Brissett to get consistent (and more vanilla) looks from the Bills, making his reads easier to process.
-- Surprise guest appearance: The Patriots have practiced with Julian Edelman at quarterback, and they surely have a few plays ready for their receiver should he ever take his place behind center. The team didn't need him against the Texans as it took an early lead and protected it effectively. For a different look, and to keep the Bills off balance, the Patriots could have Edelman take a snap or two as a Wildcat quarterback. Whatever it takes to make the Patriots 4-0 for Tom Brady's return next week, that's what Belichick and McDaniels will do, and if that means running their No. 1 receiver as a dual-threat signal-caller, I don't think they would hesitate to do it.