by Mario Granata
As you might have read with Welcome to the Division: AFC East and NFC East you pretty much have the idea. Examining the players who have new teams for the 2015 season, whom the Bills have to try and stop or beat, there are some notable names that have some history with the Bills as opponents in the past.
S Da’Norris Searcy – With Tennessee being dubbed “Bills South” they just love getting guys from Buffalo. George Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Levitre have recently taken a vacation to the Titans in recent years, and while Searcy has more upside, his coverage skills were probably the reason for his being released. Searcy, however, will come up and stuff the run and do so at 100 mph, so Shady and Freddie should keep their heads on a swivel…as if they don’t already.
OLB Brian Orakpo – Orakpo is a force on the field when he is able to stay on it. Four of his six seasons he has amassed 38.5 of his sacks for his career, so he will be a force and could post some problems for Cordy Glenn or Seantrel Henderson if he is on the field. He has only played one game against the Bills in 2011, where he registered 4 tackles and 0 sacks.
WR Harry Douglas – Playing the slot in an offense that had Julio Jones and Roddy White, Douglas didn’t get the ball that much in Atlanta, even though during the 2013 season when Jones was injured he started 11 games and caught 85 passes for 1,067 yards. One of those games being against the Bills where he put up a 6-73 stat line, but as we have seen in recent history, when a receiver departs a team who has an established quarterback for a team without one, the numbers will fall. Refer to Eric Decker and Greg Jennings for other examples of this.
TE Anthony Fasano – He went to Notre Dame. That pretty much sums it up.
TE Julius Thomas – Keeping with the theme of players who leave quality quarterbacks, Thomas hopes that his name isn’t added to the previously listed players. Thomas is a force, there is no doubt about that, but when you go from catching passes from Peyton Manning to catching them from Blake Bortles, there is going to be a drop. No pun intended. When the Bills played the Broncos this past season, Thomas was injured, so he hasn’t had experience against the defense that is the Bills. Enjoy Julius. Enjoy.
DT Jared Odrick – It seems that former AFC East guys are all over the Bills schedule this year. Odrick played the Bills 9 times, recording 15 tackles and registering 2 sacks, and will be watching the stat sheet closely to see how Ndamukong Suh is doing down in Miami this season. Expect him to be up for the Bills having that familiarity.
WR Andre Johnson – Bills fans, as well as NFL fans will have to wipe their eyes a few times as they try and get used to Johnson NOT wearing a Houston Texans jersey for the first time in his career. The Bills have to regain their vision pretty quick, because even at his age, the AFC Version of Larry Fitzgerald can hurt you in a lot of ways. His two most recent games against the Bills in 2012 and 2014 he caught 14 passes for 189 yards. That was with the likes of Matt Schaub and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball. With Andrew Luck, Johnson might have his rebirth in Indy, and we can all hope Gilmore, Graham and the rest of the secondary can keep him in check.
RB Frank Gore – Gore last played the Bills in San Francisco in 2012 putting up an impressive 14-106-1 on Buffalo in a 45-3 demolition. Gore hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, and should look to keep his career moving forward with the pass happy Colts. Gore is currently 20th on NFL’s All Time list, and could move into the top 15 with another 1,000-yard campaign. Who cares if the guy only got a 6 on the Wonderlic, right?
DE/LB Trent Cole – Rounding out the final member of the 30+ Club of players that the Colts picked up, Cole has been pretty good as a pro recording double digit sacks in 4 of his 10 years in the league. He should complement Robert Mathis on the other side, however with Mathis turning 34 and Cole 32, someone should tell the Colts that ‘Life’ may begin at 30, but NFL careers don’t. Where is Irsay?
QB Brian Hoyer – If the Tennessee Titans are “Bills South” then the Houston Texans have to be “Patriots South”. How many Texan players/coaches are former New England Patriots? Regardless of the numbers, the last time that Hoyer faced off against the Bills he suffered a season ending injury at the hands of Kiko Alonso. Hoyer will be used as a Plan B to Ryan Mallet (another former Patriot) if he cannot execute Bill O’Brien’s offense. Too bad the Bills traded for Cassel, or he might be in Texas right now.
S Rahim Moore – If Ed Reed is considered the greatest ‘center fielder’ in NFL history, Moore would be on the other end of the spectrum. We all remember that Mile High Rainbow that Joe Flacco threw to Jacoby Jones…well it was on Moore. Moore has played the Bills twice and has a total of 4 tackles. When all else fails, just throw it up, because the smart money doesn’t have Moore coming down with it.
Playing in London against the Jaguars, former teammates in Tennessee, 30 Somethings in Indy or the Patriots cast offs, whatever you want to label them, the Bills have favorable matchups when they have to face the AFC South. The 15-year drought, at least on the surface, looks like it could come to an end this year. Go Bills.
Be sure to check out:
Welcome to the Division: AFC East
Welcome to the Division: NFC East