Competitions, Celebrations Herald Fresh Season
By Jo E. Prout
With new personnel facing a new season, the Bills are pushing hard for a jazzed-up franchise, but is a “rah-rah” approach going to make a difference going into the new season?
New head coach Doug Marrone stated previously that all his players are competing as starters in training camp and in the preseason.
“Our goal as coaches is to make it fair for both players, not just at the quarterback position, but for other positions of competition. Really it relies on the players to separate themselves,” Marrone said earlier.
Players cannot separate themselves too much, with multi-million-dollar player contracts, and returning veterans, dictating a good portion of the roster.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is also new to the job, but he spent some of the preseason chest-bumping players and encouraging the team to celebrate accomplishments on the field.
“Anytime you score, you can celebrate and you should get used to it,” Hackett said early in training camp. “The more you celebrate -- the more you want to do it -- the more touchdowns come.”
Touchdowns are indeed the goal for the re-invented Bills, but NFL fines for individual players ranging from $8,000 to $30,000 for celebrations deemed “unsportsmanlike conduct” may make players think twice before dancing or chest-bumping on the goal line.
With Marrone coming most recently from a college football setting, is he naïve in believing that a rosily-described “fair competition” will not affect his players’ attitudes toward him and their contracts? Will he lose the trust of the locker room?
Are pronouncements like those from Marrone going to anger a lagging fan base hoping for a coach with gumption and not naiveté? Or will his plan show a nugget of wisdom gained from his years with the New Orleans Saints?
Does Hackett expect his players to turn a blind eye to stiff NFL penalties for celebrating? Are the fines worth it for the touchdowns? Players love to win, and joyful football appeals to fans, but NFL fines exist because some players’ joy is just plain obnoxious. Time will tell if the new approach spark the energy to revive the Bills.