Colts at Bills: Behind Enemy Lines
By Evan Reller
The Indianapolis Colts open the NFL season at the Buffalo Bills. The Week 1 opponent features a stout defense and a fifth-year QB making his first NFL start.
We spoke with Paul Taylor, editor of BuffaLowDown, to get some inside information on this week’s opponent.
We’ll update and line when our answers to their questions are posted.
1) What are Bills fans looking forward to most this season? Is there one area that really has you excited?
It’s fair to say that optimism is at its highest in Western New York for at least 10 years. And this is understandable, given that the Bills have arguably their most talented roster since they last made the playoffs, in 1999.
The offensive line has been upgraded, and there are several new weapons for the quarterbacks to target. However, the main reason for all the excitement is the defense. Last season, they were excellent, making even the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning look like mere mortals. They finished the 2014 campaign ranking fourth in the NFL for points conceded and yards allowed.
This season, they’re expected to be even better. Part of this is down to Rex Ryan coming on board, who is renowned as a defensive mastermind. He has given the whole unit a boost, with safety Aaron Williams stating that anything less than being number one will be considered a disappointment for the defense.
2) Who stood out for the team during the preseason? Is there an area that looked particularly good or has you nervous?
Ironically, one of the main players who stood out most during preseason was EJ Manuel. Considering he was theoretically fighting for his future on the team, he looked good under less than ideal circumstances (mostly taking reps and playing with the reserves). Ultimately, it didn’t matter, as he will still start the regular season as third on the quarterback depth chart.
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Other players who stood out, included John Miller and Karlos Williams. (More on them below.)
In respect of making me nervous, look no further than the secondary, and more specifically, Ronald Darby. The rookie cornerback endured a baptism of fire during the preseason, with opponents repeatedly going after him. Of course, this is entirely understandable, and (hopefully) Darby can only improve as a result of it. However, with Leodis McKelvin being out for the start of the campaign, the second round draft pick will really have to step up his game in the meantime.
3) Is Tyrod Taylor a long term option at QB? Will Rex Ryan be patient with him?
Tyrod Taylor is, for the most part, an unknown commodity. Yes, he looked exciting during preseason, and represents somewhat of an x-factor, with his mobility and arm strength. As it stands though, there is just no way of knowing if he is a long-term option, until the real action begins.
As for Ryan, patience will certainly be key. He has to give Taylor at least a few games to get into the flow of things, and to find out what he’s made of. However, if things go wrong early on, I’m sure the Bills head coach won’t hesitate to turn the reigns over to Matt Cassel, who at least has some veteran experience.
4) Who has you excited from the draft class? Has anyone really stood out during the preseason?
The draft pick who impressed me most during the preseason, was offensive lineman John Miller. He has good mobility and held his own whenever he played. More importantly, he fills a big gap at right guard. If truth be told, the Bills o-line was awful last season. Therefore, the addition of Miller (and Richie Incognito) will help increase the chances that this unit puts on a better showing in 2015.
The other draft pick making some noise is Karlos Williams, or at least he was until he suffered a freak injury. Fortunately, he is expected to be back in uniform against the Colts. His running style has been compared to that of a certain Eric Dickerson, and coaches have been continually impressed with how easily he has picked everything up.
5) What are the expectations for the Bills this season?
Buffalo sports fans often seem to walk around with a sense of impending doom, not helped by years of tough losses and struggling teams. I must stress that I’m not a fan, and I’m not even from Buffalo. However, in keeping with this mentality, I believe the Bills will end up winning 10 games, but somehow miss out on a playoff spot, in true Buffalo sports style.
Of course, I will have absolutely no problem with being proven wrong with my prediction. However, until further notice, the longest playoff drought in the NFL will continue for at least one more year.
6) What is your prediction for Sunday’s game? Who wins and why?
Unfortunately for Bills fans, I have a sneaking suspicion the Colts are going to win. The main reason the Colts will come out winners is due to the weapons they have on offense. Giving a stud like Andrew Luck new play-makers such as Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, almost seems unfair!
It also doesn’t help that the Bills will be without two key members of their defense, in Marcell Dareus (suspension) and Leodis McKelvin (injury). Don’t get me wrong, I believe it will be a close game, but ultimately, Indianapolis will do just enough to leave town with an important road victory.