The Buffalo Bills underwent major changes at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Russ Brandon became the team president while Chan Gailey and his staff were shown the door, allowing the team to sign a first-time head coach and his youthful staff. The men holding down positional coaching jobs are all relatively new to the scene as well.
73-year old Buddy Nix stepped down as general manager, the position given to Doug Whaley, another first-timer.
On the field, there are 38 new faces among the 85 players currently on the roster. But, the biggest move of the offseason was the selection of quarterback E.J. Manuel. The Bills haven’t had an adequate quarterback since 1999, when Doug Flutie was at the helm of the offense.
Dealing with Kelly Holcolmb, Alex Van Pelt, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, and most recently Ryan Fitzpatrick, has made the Buffalo Bills a franchise of both humor and shame in the eyes of the national media.
I moved to Buffalo roughly three weeks ago, and I’ve seen more pedestrians sporting more Patriots, Steelers and Eagles apparel than that of their hometown team. Now, the stadium will be packed every Sunday, but to mainstream media, the team is a joke. Chris Berman is the lone supporter. The subpar play of the team during the last decade has truly shifted the image of the Bills’ franchise from what it was in the late 80’s through the early 90’s.
I haven’t lived in Buffalo long enough to make a sure statement in either direction, but from multiple people that I’ve spoken with, it’s similar to my point of view. Nobody wants to be a loser. Nobody wants to be the fan that’s both eager and pessimistic at the same time.
This is where E.J. Manuel comes into play.
Manuel has everything that you look for in a quarterback in today’s evolving NFL. He’s got a big frame that can absorb hits, he’s got a huge arm, he’s mobile in the pocket and is a threat to run when necessary.
The godson of Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, Manuel has the task of not only playing quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, but to be the face of the franchise while the team looks to turn around 14 years of misery.
The Bills are an important part of Buffalo’s culture and the fans need a quarterback that gives them hope and can deliver. E.J. Manuel was the final piece to the engine that former general manager Buddy Nix was building during his three-year tenure with the team, meaning it’s time to rev the engine and take off.
The front office has put together a roster that (on paper) appears to be one that can be contenders relatively quickly. The 2012 offseason was rough, as we watched Andy Levitre depart via free agency, all while dealing with Jairus Byrd’s ongoing holdout. However, if this young roster full of talent and potential can put it together on the field, things should look bright for the Buffalo Bills.
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