I have been down this road so many times before. The Bills do such an amazing job of getting my hopes up and then tearing the heart out of my chest. The Super Bowl losses, the Music City Miracle, the Cowboy Monday Night game, the Patriots game last year, etc. etc. My Bills, always finding more creative ways to lose and to embarrass me among my friends.
For the 2010 season, I was NOT going to let that happen. I was NOT getting my hopes up this year. I was going into 2010 with NO expectations. I was expecting us to go 0-16 if that is what it takes for me not to get let down again. I am not going to let them rip my heart out again. I just hoped that I'd see some growth from our young players and signs of hope that Chan is going to be a great coach for us. But that is it.
I was firmly convinced that we were in 100% rebuilding mode and we'd be lucky to win 5 games this year. Quite honestly, I was hoping we'd be bad enough to get a top 5 pick so we could at least get a stud QB, LT or pass rusher next year and fill one of those three gaping holes. The last thing I wanted was another 7-9, 6-10 year where we get a pick in the 10-15 range. I'd given up on Trent, given up on our o-line, given up on Whitner, etc.
Now, after the last two preseason games, they are at it again. Getting my hopes up that we might actually have a decent head coach and GM. That we might actually have a QB on our roster that can be successful if provided any limited amount of protection and a decent offensive game plan. Getting my hopes up that we MAY not be in a 5 year rebuilding mode but maybe a 2 year mode where we can possibly think about playoffs in 2011. Geting my hopes up that I was SO, SO, SO wrong to have said CJ Spiller is the only guy I didn't want us to pick this past year.
I know, I know, it is only the preseason. I keep telling myself that. But I just can't help myself. Bell seems to be making some decent progress. Maybe, just maybe, he can actually be a LT for us. An offensive game plan that actually adjusts to what a defense is doing to us. An offense that actually uses slants and crossing routes. An offense that actually puts our playmakers in space with a chance to do something with the ball. Signs of the old Trent out there. Making quick decisions and being accurate with the ball. Taking the occassional shot down the field. And CJ, what else can I say. The kid is electric. Please make me eat my words.
Even the defense, though ugly so far, has shown me promise. I love the future of our d-line. We've got some studs and some young guys that are going to be really good. Our secondary could be elite if only we had a pass rush.
So they've done it to me again. I am changing my mindset for 2010. I don't have any crazy notions that we'll make the playoffs or anything. But I am actually hoping we can go 7-9 somehow. What would make 2010 a success for me is the following:
1. Bell, Levitre, Wood and Meredith (RT) all make big progress and by the end of the year we don't view o-line as a problem area anymore.
2. Trent gets better and better over the course of the year (as the protection and WR's improve) and finishes with 20+ TDs and gets a new contract.
3. Our run defense improves over the course of the year as we adjust to the new 3-4. And maybe in the second half of 2010 we are in the top 15 run defenses over that period of time.
4. Steady improvement as the year moves on with 2 big 'upset' victories in the final 4 games. Give the team and fans some confidence and momentum going into 2011.
5. A change in attitude by the end of the year. Getting rid of the 'lovable loser' mentality that we've had for so long. Winning some close games against good teams instead of finding ways to lose.
If those things happen this year, I'll consider 2010 a huge success. That would leave us only one huge gap to fill in the offseason. That would be a pass rusher. I thought about adding another point that Maybin or Coleman get 10+ sacks this year, but I just don't think that is even realistic.
Sorry for the long post. But my hopes are up again. I just pray this time that they don't let me down like usual.