Buffalo Bills: Secondary undaunted by Andrew Luck


Buffalo Bills secondary ready for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts

If you’re a Buffalo Bills fans, you can’t ask for much more than starting the NFL season at Ralph Wilson Stadium. On the flip side, the Indianapolis Colts are probably one of the last teams you want to open your campaign against.

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In that respect, most bookies agree with this assessment. As I write this column, the Bills are 2.5-point underdogs to the Colts. (Buffalo opened as a 3-point underdog.)

Of course, this doesn’t mean the Bills can’t win. However, it gives you some idea of the task ahead of them, against a team which has made the playoffs in each of Andrew Luck‘s first three seasons in the NFL.

For the record, the Bills secondary are not particularly concerned about facing the three-time Pro Bowler. If you don’t believe me, listen to what Aaron Williams had to say about playing Luck on Sunday.

Speaking to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, Williams said: “Just another NFL quarterback to me.

The safety continued by saying: “He’s really good at what he does. He manages the game really well, but, I mean, you know, we’ve faced quarterbacks like this before.”

In that respect, Williams is right. Consider these two stat lines from the 2014 campaign:

Quarterback A: 14 of 20, 173 yards, 0 touchdown passes and two interceptions

Quarterback B: 17 of 42, 185 yards, 0 touchdown passes and two interceptions

You may be shocked to find out that quarterback A was Peyton Manning, and quarterback B was Aaron Rodgers. That’s right – the Bills secondary made two of the league’s best look like mere mortals last season.

Aug 14, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers in a preseason NFL football game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As such, the mentality of Williams and his teammates is perfectly understandable. However, don’t mistake this for overconfidence.

The 25-year old went on to say: “To have it come out of the box is a good test, and that’s all it is – another quarterback that’s a good test for us.

If there is any cause for concern ahead of the game, it comes down to the fact the Bills will be without Leodis McKelvin, who will be missing with an ankle injury. His place in the starting lineup will be taken by Ronald Darby, and you can guarantee Luck and his receivers will continually test the rookie cornerback.

Another factor to consider is that Buffalo will be debuting a new defense. Head coach favors a blitz-heavy scheme, meaning the cornerbacks will spend a lot of time in man-to-man coverage against opposing wide receivers.

In that respect, Darby and Stephon Gilmore will often find themselves one-on-one against Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton. As such, they will rely on the Bills front seven – which will be missing Marcell Dareus through suspension – to put consistent pressure on Luck.

Similar to Williams, Bills defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson doesn’t sound too worried: “We can cover them. They’ve only got one ball.”

Furthermore, Henderson has full confidence in Darby to step up to the challenge against the Colts: “You beat him one time and he’s going to come right back. It does not get to him.”

For his part, the 2015 second round draft pick knows what’s coming against Luck, as he told Carucci: “Yeah, I expect it.

“As a corner, I always expect the ball’s going to get thrown my way. But that’s just more chances for me to make plays, and you know, help get noticed.”

Overall, Darby seems to have the right attitude heading into his regular season debut: “They’re a good team. But every team in the NFL is good. So just prepare and compete.”

Next: Predicting the Bills 2015 season

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