The Buffalo Bills split their season series with the New England Patriots last year. They won their first 2011 matchup in large part because they were able to force Patriots quarterback Tom Brady into an uncharacteristic four turnovers.
However, in both games, Patriots tight ends made life difficult on the Bills defense.
Rob Gronkowski had seven catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the initial matchup and followed that up with eight catches for 108 yards and two more touchdowns.
Throw in Aaron Hernandez's contributions to that January game (seven catches, 138 yards and a touchdown) and it's clear that the Bills needed to do something to slow down that position on the Patriots offense.
Well, according to Bills general manager Buddy Nix, Stephon Gilmore was drafted for that reason.
We would like to be able to match up against those two guys. Even though you’re not as big as they are these guys with speed and they’re big enough that they can’t knock them around and push them away from them. It’s a lot harder for them against these bigger corners. Yes, we think he can do that.
Gilmore's selection follows the selection of the 6'0'', 200-lb Aaron Williams in 2011's draft. Clearly, getting bigger, stronger corners on Gronkowski and Hernandez is a good idea.
The Patriots tight end tandem is incredibly hard for teams to match up against.
Of course, a big reason the Patriots leaned so heavily on their tight ends last year was due to the fact that they could not get much production from their wide receivers. That should change with the acquisition of wideout Brandon Lloyd.
And so the game of cat and mouse continues...