When Rex Ryan was hired by the Bills he was in charge of ending the playoff drought. It’s been 15 years, 240 games, 14 starting quarterbacks, and 4 Tom Brady Superbowls since the Bills last tasted the playoffs. Now I guess you can say that the franchise is desperate to win. It’s no secret that they are. What’s funny is, Rex Ryan who was considered the best coach available, picked Buffalo.
When was the last time the Bills got the best available coach? So already that shot of adrenaline was pumping through our collective veins. You could feel your attitude towards this team changing to a more aggressive attitude to mimic Ryan’s. The Pegula’s were ready to win, they were not shy in saying so after purchasing the Sabres, and Doug Whaley we’ve heard about being a no nonsense guy that will make the team a contender. So after the Rex Ryan hiring, press conferences, and excitement faded, not to mention the many T-shirts that were sold, March 3rd happened.
Many of us probably never thought the Bills would have pulled the trigger at all on a trade, regardless of player, but to trade Kiko Alonso for LeSean McCoy straight up? That takes some stones, it TKO’d us out of nowhere! It subsequently stunned even the internet. I can’t speak for the Oregon Eagles, I mean the Philadelphia Ducks, I mean….Chip Kelly, but why not get the linebacker that you have known since he was in high school? Anyway, when I first found out about the trade, I was shocked, then I was bummed Kiko was traded, then I remembered, Kiko Alonso was an undersized middle linebacker who faded near the end of his rookie season, AND he missed all of last season due to a knee injury. The hype, and myth of Kiko grew larger than life and the Bills used “the legend” to get an all-pro running back in return.
LeSean McCoy had a down year and his stats show his production was down, but those stats don’t show how the Eagles offensive line had declined too. Plus all the talk of McCoy being past his prime, and at the end of his career? He’s going to be 27 in July, and he had 1,300 yards last season, that totally sounds like a guy that the Bills should have passed on (that was sarcasm). The Bills offensive line seems to be fixed, but with a new offense in place, and with McCoy, Williams, Dixon, and Bryce Brown (who played behind McCoy in Philadelphia) the Bills may have backs with lesser stats but with fresher legs, which will benefit the team later in November and December and hopefully into January.
March 4th the Bills than made another trade for Matt Cassell. Probably not the best trade you can make, but he was going to start, until Tyrod Taylor electrified in his chances with the offense. Cassell is serviceable enough to get you by but his track record outside New England shows he’s not the best guy to place the hopes of your franchise on. Not to mention he is in danger of getting cut. So this brings the discussion back to EJ Manuel. How will EJ play into the teams plans going forward, he still has another year left on his rookie contract and if the Bills were to cut him he’d cost 9 million against the cap. So EJ is essentially in purgatory.
Doug Whaley deserves some credit for putting together this team and creating competition. Although he made the unpopular decision with fans to release Fred Jackson, he’s made this team tougher and grittier than we’ve seen in a long time. But Whaley has done exactly what we hoped he’d do. Make big moves to make the team better, and not apologize for it. The front office is seemingly intact. The attitude to win is finally there, from ownership to GM, to head coach. This is probably the most exciting time for the franchise since ’93, its been a long time coming but the Bills finally have a vision of the future and they are aggressively making it happen. Terry and Kim have picked the right coach at the right time and with Whaley taking no prisoners in the front office, this Bills team is much different than we thought they ever could be and it’s more than just the new players that were brought in. The attitude is finally showing and it will match the talent level. For the first time in years the team will act like they will play. The Bills were always a team seemingly without an identity.
You know what you get with the Steelers, Cowboys, Raiders, and Packers. Teams with winning histories, teams that had grit, teams that will stand the test of time. Now the Bills get the rare opportunity to step into the upper echelon of sports franchises. This is that second chance teams dream about getting. This is when the slogan “It’s our time” actually means something! The excitement is at an all time high, the attitude has changed, and the season is just about to get started, only question remaining is can a team that hasn’t had success in over 15 years be able to handle it if it comes this season?