It has been three weeks since I made a post in my series of NFL season previews. I had a vacation to Vegas, an illness, and some other pressing sports news stories that I just had to write. But the series is back today, this time with my most hated team in the division, the Buffalo Bills. It would be easy for me to hate the Patriots, as they have had the most success recently, and most Dolphins fans that I know hate the Jets most of all, but I have always had a soft-spot for hating the Bills. I guess it probably stems from growing up in the early 90's and having my earliest football experiences be watching them go to four straight Super Bowls. Well, that's my quick little story, here's a look at the 2013 Buffalo Bills.
Key Losses: The most important player departing the Bills this year is their former starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills have been looking for a quarterback of good quality ever since Jim Kelly retired and they thought they had found it in Fitzpatrick. He had a big year in 2010 and was subsequently resigned to a lucrative deal. But after two years of poor decision making (accounting for 49 turnovers in those two seasons), the realization that he doesn't have a strong arm, and the financial burden of the aforementioned contract, the organization decided to part ways with their starting quarterback. Now the Bills are left with a hole at the most important position on the field, and are hoping that they have found the answer in one of their two biggest off-season acquisitions.
Key Additions: After the release of Fitzpatrick, the Bills were left with a giant hole at the position. They made two key decisions in an attempt to fill this hole. The first was the trade that they made with the Arizona Cardinals to acquire Kevin Kolb. Kolb was a strong-armed quarterback coming out of Houston University drafted by Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles. He had all the promise in the world and looked like he was going to become a star in this league. But, for whatever reason, Kolb has never been able to put it together. He has all the physical tools necessary to play the position, but he never seems sure of himself when he takes the field. He looks like a lost puppy out there, and that is why his is now on his third team in his seven year career. If Kolb can't figure it out, and quickly, look for him to be supplanted as the starter by the Bills first round draft choice this season, E.J. Manuel. Possibly the surprise of the draft this season, no one had Manuel rated as a first round quarterback, but the Bills must have seen something in his career at Florida State that they felt confident in. Manuel is a great athlete and has a cannon for an arm, but has also shown some poor decision making in his collegiate career. His completion percentage never topped 70 percent while playing for the Seminoles, which is a pretty standard mark for a good quarterback in college. He also only topped the 3,000 yard mark once in his career. If he becomes the starter and performs well, the Bills front office will look like they knew what they were doing, but I don't seem him doing any better than his FSU predecessor Christian Ponder, who was also taken much higher than anyone expected and hasn't lived up to the position.
What it means: The Bills do have a pretty good amount of talent surrounding whomever is going to be the starting quarterback. Stevie Johnson has blossomed into a very nice number one receiver. They also have two of the more talented running backs in the league in Fred Jackson (who, as someone who is a Dolphins fan and attended Cornell College, may be my most hated player in the league) and C.J. Spiller. With Fred Jackson handling most of the carries, and Spiller spelling him and lining up all over the field, utilizing his blazing speed and good catching ability, the Bills do have a good number of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. With that being said, however, it's hard for me to see Buffalo ending the season any better than in the 6-10 to 7-9 range. This will be good enough for third in the AFC East, but not where the Bills would like to be. I think they'll be a playoff team in the not-too-distant future, but that future has not come yet.
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.