The Buffalo Bills haven't appeared in the NFL playoffs since Rob Johnson quarterbacked the team in the 1999 post-season. Since the Music City Mirage, Buffalo has gone eleven long seasons without a playoff appearance. David Nelson thinks that this team will change that.
"We talked about it in Arizona," the Bills receiver told me last week. "Every year, a team comes up and surprises the NFL when the year before they were nothing. We have the talent. Why can't it be us?"
In 2010, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked third overall and rode a slew of young players to the cusp of the NFL playoffs. The Bucs fell a couple tiebreakers short of making it, but added seven wins to their 2009 total. It would take Buffalo equaling that feat to end the team's playoff drought.
Nelson says the Bills are playing not to simply get better, but are aiming for a playoff spot.
"We're working for that. When we get together as a team we're working to get to the playoffs," affirmed Nelson. "We're not in it to go 8-8 this year and win a couple games in our division. We have bigger goals than that. When we break it down as a group, the goal is playoffs. That's our focus, and that's what we think we can get to. We're not working for a 4-12 season or an 8-8 season. We're working for the playoffs, and then once we get there anything goes."
Buffalo finished 4-4 after an 0-8 start. Nelson thinks that's a testament to Bills head coach Chan Gailey.
"We believe in each other," said Nelson. "We've got a coach who is coming in with a fresh mindset. I think you saw at the end of the season that we came together as a team and started believing in Chan's system. We're coming together. It's a group of young guys who are hungry and ready to win, are listening to coaching and Chan.
"We're hungry, and we know the city of Buffalo wants it."