By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on July 26, 2014
With training camps officially underway, the 2014 NFL season is right around the corner. The Buffalo Bills have high expectations for the upcoming season, as do their fans. Here are 10 reasons why those expectations are justified.
Last season, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett attempted to implement a fast-paced, no-huddle offense. Numerous injuries made it difficult to find any chemistry, but the offense has added several new weapons this offseason. Although the Bills have been a run-first team in years past, Hackett and quarterback E.J. Manuel will find a way to keep the tempo up.
After a Pro Bowl season in 2012, C.J. Spiller was expected to emerge as one of the NFL’s best running backs last season. However, injury troubles robbed him of his game-breaking speed and as a result, he scored just two touchdowns. Spiller has looked much healthier in training camp so far, and should be Buffalo’s No. 1 back to start the season. Expect a big bounce-back season from the former first-round pick.
Although their record has not indicated it, the Bills have put together some very good drafts the past few years. Their collection of young talent is as good as any team in the league. Now they just need to put everything together. Players like Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey are all candidates for breakout years in 2014.
The Bills will kick off the NFL preseason from Canton, OH on Aug. 3 when they play the New York Giants in the annual Hall of Fame Game. The Bills' franchise will be celebrating the long-overdue induction of wide receiver Andre Reed into the Hall of Fame. Reed was the Bills’ best receiver on their Super Bowl teams of the early 1990’s and will join former teammates Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton and Bruce Smith in the Hall of Fame.
The AFC East has been dominated by the New England Patriots for the last decade. However, Tom Brady has shown signs of decline and while the Patriots remain the favorites to win the division, they are not the dominant side they once were. The Jets have a great defense, but Geno Smith is a big question mark at quarterback. And the Dolphins have holes all over their roster. The door could be open for the Bills to make a run in the division.
On the one hand, a world without Rob Ford wearing a Buffalo Bills jersey is a sad place. On the other hand, so is a world in which the Bills play a “home” game in Toronto. Thankfully, that won’t be the case this season. After pedestrian attendance numbers and terrible results on the field, the Bills have scrapped their annual game in Canada. With the impending sale of the team, the Bills are trying to distance themselves from Toronto altogether.
In the NFL, the head coach makes more of an impact on his team than in any of the other big four sports. The Bills are lucky that they have a good one in Marrone. Unlike the past few coaches the Bills have had, Marrone actually seems invested in the success in his team. He doesn’t tolerate any nonsense in his players and holds them to a high standard. He is an ideal mentor for a team with a lot of young and inexperienced talent.
With the passing of owner Ralph Wilson, the Bills' future has looked murky at times this offseason. The process has begun to gain steam recently, though. Several big name buyers, such as Donald Trump, Jon Bon Jovi and Terry Pegula have emerged as potential buyers. Contrary to earlier reports, Bon Jovi has no desire to move the team to Toronto. Whoever the new owner is, it is looking more and more likely that the Bills will be staying in Buffalo.
It has been a very long time since the Bills have had anything resembling a franchise quarterback on the roster. From Rob Johnson to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills fans have endured a lot of poor quarterback play. But E.J. Manuel looks like he might finally buck that trend. He has a multitude of weapons to work with and after a rookie year marred with injuries, he is fully healthy and has another year of experience with Nathaniel Hackett’s system.
The Bills sacrificed a great deal to select Watkins in this year’s draft. But if the early signs are any indication, the former Clemson star looks like he was worth it. Watkins has been one of the best, if not the best, players on the field for the Bills during training camp, flashing the kind of elite talent the Bills aren’t very used to. Already beloved by fans, Watkins looks like he could be a top-flight receiver in the NFL for years to come.
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