Bills Embrace Drama, Spur Optimism
By Jo E. Prout
The Bills this year are playing the quarterback dance, pulling in a string of quarterbacks – and letting them go, again -- but that strategy is nothing new for Buffalo. The Bills franchise has seen more than its fair share of leading men in the last decade.
This year alone, the drama surrounding the quarterback trio of Kevin Kolb, EJ Manuel, and Jeff Tuel widened to include last-minute free agents Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis, before Kolb was placed on the injured reserve list and Lewis was released. Will the approach of a new head coach, and his new coaching staff, bode well for the Bills as the season progresses?
Head Coach Doug Marrone said it will, and he pushed his players and his staff hard as they entered the season.
“It’s just the point of my responsibilities to make sure I have to do whatever I can to get the best out of this football team,” Marrone said recently.
After his second preseason loss, he said, “I think at the end of the day, we have to find a way to make those plays and take advantage of that opportunity. We have to continue to keep working on the fundamentals… It is a work in progress and we have a lot of work ahead of us. I think we left some plays out there. We have to just go out there and make some plays.”
With a young team being rebuilt from ashes, Marrone’s optimism could carry the team further than anticipated in his first season as head coach.
Speaking about veteran right tackle Erik Pears, for example, Marrone said, “I think that he’s really upped his production from what you’ve seen when he’s played here in the past. I really think he’s going about it as a pro, he works extremely hard… The funny thing is people look and they’ll say, ‘Gosh, this guy has been here six years or eight years and he is what he is.’ A lot of times, those players, they can continue to get better. I see him as a guy, even though he’s a veteran, he’s really [gotten] a lot better.”
Optimism only goes so far. The Bills will have to cut the drama of its revolving roster of quarterbacks, and face the injuries that have plagued the team all year if the team wants to make progress on the field. If they push through the injuries that are inherent in the NFL, Marrone and his staff may just break the spell that has held the Bills back for so long.