Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
BuffalOkie Mondays: Patience, Everyone
The Buffalo Bills’ 2013 training camp is officially underway on the campus of St. John Fisher College, and I can’t remember the last time the team entered camp with this much intrigue. For crying out loud, the team has a new general manager, a new coaching staff, a quarterback battle that includes a first-round draft pick from April’s draft, and a top-tier player in the middle of a nasty unresolved contract situation. How could you not be intrigued? I personally have already committed to the $19.99 it’s going to cost me to watch every preseason game on NFL.com (Apparently Oklahoma networks still don’t consider Bills games to be “local telecasts”, and NFL Sunday ticket obviously doesn’t kick in until the regular season).
In many ways, Buffalo will be putting a shiny new product on the field this season and there is plenty to be excited about, but as we get our first taste of actual football in 2013, here is my advice to Bills fans: Be patient.
Listen, I know that the return of good football to Buffalo is way overdue at this point. I remember the day 13-year old me locked myself in my room after the Music City Miracle play of which we do not speak, and I remember each and every day in the 14 years since that myself, along with every other Bills fan, have had my heart ripped out by the team I so dearly love.
But you know what else I remember? Spending the 2012 preseason muttering phrases like “top five NFL defense” and “ending the playoff drought”, and while I was never a believer in Grandpa Gailey, I was still convinced that we had enough dynamic pieces on the roster to finally get pack to the postseason in 2012. Well, we all know how that ended up. Chan and Co. sputtered to a brutally disappointing 6-10 season in which the Bills lost in pretty much every way gut-wrenching way imaginable.
Well here we are seven months later and we all find ourselves in the position of wondering just how much stock we should put into our this team. I personally have no idea what the 2013 season holds, but I think Buffalo had a very nice offseason. Things started out well with the Gailey firing, and I’m really excited about new Head Coach Doug Marrone and new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine (I’m taking a wait-and-see approach with new OC Nathaniel Hackett). Then, General Manager Buddy Nix steps aside and Doug Whaley is promoted to GM – another move I really like. Add to that my excitement over the Bills’ first three draft picks, EJ Manuel, Robert Woods and Kiko Alonso, and I have plenty to be excited about heading into 2013, but at the end of the day I have to remind myself that history doesn’t favor teams relying on so many new pieces and the Bills will most certainly have their struggles this season.
To be honest, I’m drinking the Kool Aid on the new regime. I love the new attitude that Marrone and his staff bring to Buffalo and I have a ton of faith in Whaley as GM. I also love EJ Manuel’s physical tools as well as his maturity and approach to the game, and I look forward to watching him (hopefully) grow into the QB of the future for the Bills. For all of those reasons Bills fans should be excited about what the future holds, but that’s what it is: the future. Give Marrone and his staff time to get things going and truly instill that attitude in their players. Give EJ time to learn the game at this level and develop those promising raw skills that have us all excited to see him handed the keys to the offense. Give Pettine a chance to plug in his defense and find the right combination of players to maximize effectiveness in his scheme.
There are many reasons to be excited about the Bills right now. For the first time in over a decade the team finally seems to have direction. The new regime is focused on winning and appears ready to do whatever needs to be done to accomplish that. There is a stable of young, exciting players like CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson, and Stephon Gilmore that appear ready to take that next step and truly become stars in this league. So get excited, Bills fans. The future is bright in Buffalo.
But remember…be patient.