by Mario Granata
Now, much has been made of the recent acquisition of Andre Holmes by the Buffalo Bills recently, probably because there have been more people to walk on the moon than are present in the Bills Receivers Meeting room as of late. All jokes aside, did the Bills get a “find” by signing Holmes to a 3-year deal or is this just another case of a player that is out of his element?
When it comes to passing the “eye test” Holmes seems to have all the tools. 6’5” with blazing speed, albeit from a player who is set to turn 29 before the season starts. (Sound familiar #Tyrod). Nevertheless Holmes brings a unique skill set to the Bills that they haven’t had in quite sometime.
Stepping Up - Holmes, at the present time, will serve to be the #2 wideout opposite Sammy Watkins, a role that will be a new one for him. Playing in the shadow of the Black Hole, Holmes was the #3 receiver (and often times the 4th option) in Oakland behind Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and whoever Oakland sent out of the backfield. One has to temper their expectations when a player is going to go out of their comfort zone on a new team. Sure, it could be a case of a guy finally getting his chance to make an impact, but often times they turn into Thomas Vanek. (If you recall, Vanek was frequently on the 3rd line in Buffalo where he enjoyed much of his success and when Daniel Briere and Chris Drury left, he was on the 1st line and struggled.)
Replacing Woods – Robert Woods was a fan favorite in Buffalo because he typified what it meant to be a resident of the city: tough, gritty, and does the dirty work. This may be the reason that the Rams sought to get him and held him in such high regard. If you look at the tapes, you will see that many of the long runs that were broken by LeSean McCoy (other than his incredible talent) was the downfield blocking that Woods provided. He was very underrated as a receiver in that respect. Many people overlook that aspect of the receiver position, however it will play an important part if the Bills are to retain their title as the Leagues leading ground team.
All in the Numbers – As mentioned above, Thomas Vanek enjoyed success because he was playing against 3rd line players, however the same cannot be said for Holmes. With Cooper and Crabtree getting a lot of the attention from the #1 and #2 cover players of the opposition, that left Holmes to be left in 1-on-1 matchups and the numbers don’t reflect the type of impact player he could be. For his career he has less than a 50% catch percentage, which is the number of balls thrown to him and how many he caught. This is troubling considering that he was matched up against the #3 corner or a safety, or he had trouble finding the holes in the zone, or simply had drops. This does not bode well for moving the chains at One Bills Drive. Also, Holmes numbers in 1st and 3rd quarter for catches are among his lowest. He has 19 receptions in the 1st quarter and 21 in the 3rd quarter, meaning that he is not only in the game plan during the week, he isn’t in the game plan during the halftime adjustments. He has had the ability to get separation at times, however so did Darius Heyward-Bey, and we all know how that story ended. If you are looking for Holmes to be a deep threat, just keep in mind that he has only 1 touchdown over 50 yards for his career.
The one shining statistic that Holmes has is inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. Fifteen times he has been targeted inside the 10, and has 10 receptions, 8 of those for touchdown, making him legit threat, however, the Bills offense has to get there first, and that is going to be tough if they are playing 10 on 11 for the other 90 yards of the field.