ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills have a somewhat tricky week of planning and practicing in front of them because there remains some mystery regarding who will be the starting quarterback for New England on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who sustained a shoulder injury in Week 2 against Miami, and Jacoby Brissett, who suffered a thumb injury in Week 3 against Houston, both are practicing, but there's no indication of which one might get the call against Buffalo.
All Ryan knows is that Tom Brady won't be out there, and that's fine with him.
"You've got the best quarterback in history, and these guys are good, but I don't know if they'll rank quite up there with Tom Brady," coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday of Brady, who is the final week of his four-game suspension stemming from the Deflategate scandal.
There is a perception that Ryan has always fared well against Brady, but it's not really true.
Since Ryan became a head coach in 2009, first with the New York Jets and now with the Bills, Brady has completed 60.1 percent of his passes and has averaged 282 yards passing per game with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions against his teams.
Among quarterbacks who have played at least five game against Ryan, Brady's 91.2 quarterback rating is the best.
To be fair, Brady has regularly tortured every opponent he has faced, although none more so than the Bills.
Since Brady became New England's quarterback in 2001, the Patriots have won 27 of 30 games against Buffalo, and one of the losses came in 2014 in the season finale when Brady only a quarter and the game was finished by none other than Garoppolo, then a rookie.
Ryan said he thinks he knows who will play, but no matter who it ends up being, the Bills aren't altering their preparation all that much because the basic tenets of the New England offense aren't going to be that much different.
"The passing game is the passing game, New England hasn't changed its passing attack, so all that stays the same," Ryan said of the Patriots' maddeningly effective short-to-intermediate scheme.
"The rushing attack, let's just say there's going to be more options and all that. The main thing is just stopping what they do."
Ryan is willing to deal with that uncertainty because the bottom line is that Brady will be watching from his living room couch.
"They're going to game plan specific for the quarterback, so we understand that and we'll be prepared," Ryan said. "It might take a little more time than normally what it would, but I'd rather do that than face Tom Brady, so I'm OK with it."
The Bills know who their quarterback is going to be, and if they are going to pull off the upset, Tyrod Taylor has to be more effective than he has been the first three weeks of the season.
Last week in the win over Arizona, Taylor passed for only 119 yards, and the Bills have to get more from their passing game, especially against an opponent like New England.
One thing coach Bill Belichick pf the Patriots specializes in is taking away a team's primary strength, and there's no doubt that with wide receiver Sammy Watkins possibly out again, the Bills will have to rely on LeSean McCoy and their running game.
If the Patriots shut that down, Taylor has to have a big game.
"Our passing attack, we haven't had a whole lot of success," Ryan said. "We've thrown some deep balls which is good, but we need to be more consistent in the passing game."
SERIES HISTORY: 113th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead, 69-42-1. New England has beaten up on the Bills like no team ever has, winning 23 of the last 25. The Patriots are 14-1 all-time at Gillette Stadium against the Bills. The only Buffalo victory came in 2014 when Tom Brady played only the first quarter and was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo.
--One of the keys to the Bills' sterling defensive performance against the Arizona Cardinals was the use of seven defensive backs in several packages which had Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer confused. The Bills sacked Palmer five times and intercepted four of his passes -- two by Stephon Gilmore and one each by Corey White and Corey Graham.
Coach Rex Ryan said he has used seven defensive backs in the past, but what made this different is that he had four safeties on the field -- Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, and Robert Blanton.
"I don't think we have ever used the four safeties, though," Ryan said. "That was something I thought would give us a better opportunity to free someone up, maybe change the count up a little bit. So it worked out pretty good.
"A lot of pressure on the back end to learn those spots and quite honestly, we were going to have Colt Anderson back up a bunch of things, but then he couldn't go later in the week. Our guys did a really good job mentally in preparing for that system."
--Throughout his head coaching career, Rex Ryan has always called the plays on defense, but he said last Sunday that he turned those duties, for the most part, over to defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. Ryan said he let his former defensive coordinator in New York, Mike Pettine, call plays on occasion as well, but this seemed a bit different because Ryan has always said he's the guy making the calls on game day.
"I was doing more of the head coach deal like everybody else, I think," Ryan said. "So that was, when the offense had the ball, I was on the offensive headset and same thing with the defense and even special teams. I just started to do that a little bit more.
"I want everybody to understand that the responsibility is the same regardless of who the play caller is. My input is going to be all over that, so I don't want all of a sudden the criticism to be, 'Oh it's Dennis Thurman.' No, it's not. It is my defense, it has always been my defense, and that is the way it will be."
NOTES: QB Tyrod Taylor's 77 passes are the fewest of any quarterback who has started three games this season. ... RB LeSean McCoy, who had 110 rushing yards against the Cardinals, ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing with 227 yards. ... RB/PR Reggie Bush did not play last week, and he has been on the field for only six snaps this season. ... WR Marquise Goodwin has scored only four touchdowns in his NFL career, but the average length of the scores in 56.5 yards. ... S Aaron Williams scored the first touchdown of his six-year NFL career, although it came on special teams, as he scooped a bad long snap and ran 53 yards to the end zone against Arizona. ... LB Preston Brown totaled 20 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in two games against the Patriots last year. ...LB Zach Brown leads the Bills 34 tackles and that ties him for the NFL lead. ... K Dan Carpenter remains the Bills' all-time leader in field goal accuracy (88.5 percent) with only 12 misses in 105 attempts, but he has missed seven extra points since the line was pushed back to the 33. ... T Cyrus Koaundjio sat out practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury and he may be questionable for the Patriots game. ... OL Michael Ola was signed off the Giants practice squad, mostly as insurance because both Cordy Glenn and Cyrus Kouandjio are slowed by ankle injuries. ... TE Charles Clay continues to be bothered by a sore knee and he did not practice Wednesday.