The 2015 Buffalo Bills have the potential to be great. Yes, fans have been hurt before by similar statements, but this year is actually something different. Between the player arrivals, new coaching staff, and building off the first winning season since 2004, there is a lot to be optimistic for.
It was a Wednesday morning at St. John Fisher College for training camp, and it seemed like there would not be many people at camp, considering it was a mid-week practice at 10 A.M.
Not so much. Buffalo fans are crazy about their sports teams. Fans talk to each other about taking off work to come see the Bills practice while awaiting the players to take the field. This year there are a new set of stands on the other side of the practice field just to accommodate all the fans. They fill up fairly fast once practice starts, even on a Wednesday.
There is energy here in Western New York. Buffalo is rejuvenated. One can feel the energy when 17,000 fans show up to a Sabres scrimmage and the same feeling applies when applause breaks out every time a completion is made. Western New York fans are a loyal group and the prospect of winning has made supporting their teams a priority.
As the players walked out of the tunnel, screaming fans are heard calling out names. Opening day at training camp yielded for the most entertaining / annoying fans ever (pending on perspective) as the support players even got lots of love …
KENNY LADLER! YEAH!
Kenny Ladler is an undrafted special teams player from last years practice squad. Who the hell gets excited about guy number 53 on the roster? Bills fans apparently.
Wednesday morning things are more tame. Sammy Watkins, Fred Jackson, Percy Harvin, all get the big cheers. Other players are cheered here and there by individual fans.
One guy boos E.J. Manuel. He was alone.
This time of year is for optimism. The Bills are 0-0…. YADDA YADDA…. it has been said before. There are reasons for the optimism this year and it warrants excitement.
Players / Fans / Everybody are having fun this year – Rex Ryan
Wednesday morning Matt Cassel comes out of the tunnel and immediately tries to knock the ball out of special teamer Jordan Gay’s hand. Cassel runs off to the other side of the field looking more like a kid having fun playing JV football. His actions could have been followed by a, “Did I do that?”
The players are enjoying themselves more so this year than any other of recent memory. A minute into stretches, the Bills are blasting music. This Is How We Do It, by Montell Jordan. Ronald Darby, this year’s second round pick, is dancing and getting into practice. Jim Kelly is on the sidelines making a big group laugh while telling a story. After practice, Thurman Thomas was interviewed about some things from the day’s session.
First Take was in Buffalo on Wednesday. When does that happen? NFL network comes the day after. With Doug Marrone, things were a bad kind of tense. There were loud arguments between him and management. There were loud arguments between him and players.
Rex Ryan has a corn maze with his face on it. NFL coaches finally now have a way to get inside of Ryan’s head.
He sky-dives out of airplanes, he gets the Bills on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and he brings an energy and confidence level that has been non-existent for a long time in Western New York.
Percy Harvin is trying out cornerback, Kyle Williams is trying out tight end. New addition LeSean McCoy threw a giant party, and announced it to everyone on Instagram.
It is fun to be a Bills fan / player right now. Speaking of new acquisitions…
The Bills got better at every position
Think about it:
RB – LeSean McCoy > C.J. Spiller
WR – Add Percy Harvin, lose no one
TE – Charles Clay > Scott Chandler
OL – Add Richie Incognito, John Miller, and young players develop
DL – Alex Carrington comes back. So does Jerry Hughes
LB – Kiko Alonso wasn’t here last year. Tony Steward is a great special teamer
CB – Ronald Darby is very good
S – Corey Graham and Aaron Williams? Thank you.
Quarterback is debatable. Many tend to like Cassel over Kyle Orton, and that is still not good. But it seems everything is on the upswing from a 9-7 team last year. Look on the bright side, the quarterback spot did not get Brady Quinn bad. This roster is, arguably, the best roster in the league minus the staring quarterback position.
The division is tough, but dealing with problems
The New York Jets have a new coach and a revamped team after big acquisitions but have quarterback problems just like the Bills. The big difference between offenses is the running back talent and offensive line depth. The Jets will struggle against the Miami Dolphins and Bills defensive lines this year. The Bills invested in the draft (Miller) and in free agency (Incognito). Jets invested at wide receiver hoping quarterback, Geno Smith pans out with support. Not to mention injuries to Devon Smith early in camp, and a big suspension to Sheldon Richardson really hurt this team. Muhammad Wilkerson has the injury bug as well. The Jets have a bright future ahead, but this year should have some bumps along the road.
It does not matter if he is guilty or innocent in this context, but all of this drama with Tom Brady, the New England Patriots, and the NFL has been bad for the team. Currently, the Patriots lose Brady for four games this season, and lose a first round pick next year, all stemming from Deflate-gate. Will the penalties go away? I do not know. It is a big stress on the Patriots, who have a depleted secondary and less depth than usual heading into this year. That being said, they still are defending Super Bowl champions and a well coached and quarterbacked team.
The Dolphins are good. Ryan Tannehill is good. Ndamukong Suh is very good. Not upper-20 million dollar cap hit good, but still very good. That could put them in trouble over the next couple of years when needing to invest in other positions. The two games against the Dolphins should be interesting this year. The problems with the Dolphins are that they got a bunch of secondary wide receivers, an injury prone Jordan Cameron after refusing to give that money to Charles Clay, and the team did not improve that offensive line in which the Bills have dominated the past two years. The Dolphins should be all over free agent Evan Mathis, but they are hesitant to pay him 5.5 million dollars. Is Suh’s contract already a factor in the Dolphins addressing a need? With Branden Albert coming off of a year long injury, the Dolphins are going to have problems scoring points against the Bills again this year.
This season, it is ok to be optimistic. Embrace it. Have fun. It is about to be a heck of a ride as a Bills fan this year.
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