It’s another year of watching the playoffs from the sidelines for the Buffalo Bills. It’s nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary and nothing unexpected. The Bills are who we thought they were. However, there are some former Buffalo Bills still hanging around playing some playoff football. Bills fans should cheer them on because sometimes these former players just needed a change of scenery to get to the big game, just ask Don Beebe who won the Lombardi trophy on his fifth try with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.
We’ll start off in Indianapolis where Jerry Hughes was traded for Kelvin Sheppard in the offseason. The trade worked out very well for the Bills getting a sack machine in Hughes. Sheppard, however, fell to a backup role in Indy, but still plays a good chunk of the defensive snaps thanks to injuries a specific defensive packages. In the last game against Kansas City, Sheppard only racked up two solo tackles in a thrilling 45-44 win. Lets just say, thank goodness Andrew Luck is the Colts QB, because neither teams defense really came to play.
Another player on the Colts to keep an eye on is Da’rick Rogers. He was only targeted twice last game with one reception, but it was for 46 yards. He was also the player who drew the safety to his side on TY Hilton’s amazing game game winning grab. Rogers was cut before anyone even blinked at One Bills Drive, but has proved he has a little something ever since the Colts lost Reggie Wayne to injury. One catch won’t cut it in the NFL, but he is still a rookie and his ceiling is high.
Lets now move over to the San Francisco 49ers where a player who everyone wants to forget is having another pretty good year. That’s right, Donte Whitner. He only had two solo tackles against the Packers and while he may not be the standout player on the tough 49ers defense, Whitner fits the puzzle nicely and at times can be an excellent play maker. It’s too bad because where he was selected in the draft really put a sour taste in the mouths of Bills fans, yet if he was drafted in the second or third-round fans wouldn’t be as upset. I wonder if Whitner will officially change his name to Donte “Hitner?”
Unlike Whitner, Drayton Florence was a fan favorite in Buffalo. He loved the city and still understands the best fans in the league reside in western New York. His play has a lot left to be desired, however, he finished the year with two interceptions and one touchdown, not too shabby. He’ll never be a starting cornerback, but he is pretty good at the nickel position. Florence should keep the ball rolling after their first week bye.
This finally brings us to the man who hated Buffalo more than life itself, Marshawn Lynch. Who could really blame the guy though? He was coming from sunny California to gloomy Orchard Park. He was a starting running back he found himself in a three-way race to find playing time. He ran people over with his car and carried guns in his trunk without a permit. He never lived up to expectations in Buffalo and has been serviceable in Seattle. He will never be considered an elite back, but he is great because he’s with a great team. Expect him to have a strong playoff run because of the home field advantage in Seattle, the Seahawks defense and the fact Russell Wilson just makes very few mistakes and can put the game on his shoulders if need be.
Of these five players, Lynch should have the strongest playoff run and Bills fans everywhere will hate that. If Rogers performs like an all-star, the current coaching staff will be left wondering “what if.” However, if Florence shines with the Panthers and Carolina makes a run you can expect most of western New York to be rooting for Drayton, because if the Bills ever make a run, Drayton will be rooting for Buffalo.
Check out Bills mascot Billy Buffalo attacking a pee-wee quarterback.