As this year rolls on, and it looks like the team we obsess about the most will be home for January (and not in the good way), we are left thinking when will this end?
Personally, I think it will end next year, but, certainly by the year after that, I can all but assure you, they will be in the playoffs. Here is why:
No one has talked about this, but, every time a new coach starts, they start with their own vision for a team. And the turnover is massive. You remember the bare years when this team had no talent on it. It was awful. The roster turnover for Chan's first year was massive. I think there were like 40 new guys and 10 new starters. And it has been like that since the 90's. Every time a new coach comes in, they bring their own philosophy and want their own players.
Until this year. The roster turnover wasn't as bad. Look at this:
QB 2012 Fitz 2013 EJ If Fitz had restructured his contract, he might have still been here as the backup. So, we have 3 new QBS this year.
HB 2012 Fred, CJ, and Choice. Same 3 for 2013.
FB 12 was Corey and this year is Frank Summers, both are more special teamers then actually play meaningful roles on O too often. The FB is truly a dying bread today, and it's sad.
TE 2012 was Chandler and Lee Smith. Both are here this year too. Chandler looks like he is slowly coming back. He hasn't looked good this year, but, I have hope he will gain his confidence back.
WR The starting 3 were Stevie, Donald Jones, and TJ, Easley and Hogan, all of which are still here save Jones, who retired after being waived, and 2 new guys have come in, Woods and Goodwin.
OL the only change is that Levetrie got overpaid in Tenn and Hairston is on IR. Otherwise, Glenn, Wood, Urbik, and Pears all spent much of the time as starters last year. They have regressed this year, so, there might be some turnover next year. They did lose their quality backups tho, which has hurt them a great deal.
DL 2012 was CArrington, Mario, Klye and Dareus. They are the starters this year and all but Carrington will be back next year. Anderson is gone, but, he was hurt most of last year. Guys like Moore are also gone, replaced with guys like Branch. But, again, the starters are the same.
LB this is the biggest change. Gone are Barnett, Merriman, Kirk Morrison, Shep and White. Leftovers are Moats and Bradham. New are Kiko Hughes (for Shep good trade for us), Lawson (another good upgrade), and Westerman. I'd say the LBs are better this year then last (how could they not be??)
DB 2012 had Brooks, Byrd, Butler (gone), Gilmore, TJ Heath (gone), Howell (gone), McGee (gone), Leo, Justin Rogers, Bryan Scott (gone), Searcy, Silva (gone), Aaron Williams and George Wilson (gone). Except for Wilson, every other cut guy was a backup. So, all they did was upgrade those spots. Leo has looked better, as has Williams. Robey looks like the real deal. In 13 they also added Duke, Leonhard, and Brandon Smith.
So, the essence of the team is the same in a new regime takeover which bodes well for the talent already on the team. This Bills team was left in great hands by both Nix and Chan and the proof is the amount of carryover and the fact that almost every starter (not named as LB) are holdovers from last year's squad. They don't have cap issues (from having to cut dead weight with huge contracts) and are ready to play up to their ability over the next 2 years.
We thought last year's team was more talented then it's W/L record, the fact that so much talent stayed proved that to be the case. That means that we are essentially skipping a year of rebuild since that is true, and this is kinda like year 2 for Marrone. Now, it is a matter of getting the coaches to bring out that talent. New coaches have no link to any player, so I think it is a great sign that so many guys are still here. This year's schedule was incredibly tough. So, if we win 6, it means more then the 6 we won last year (with an easier schedule). Next year's schedule is a bit easier, so, I expect they can win at least 8 next year, the best showing for a Bills team in a decade, and with a bit of luck, can win 10 and make the playoffs.
Go Bills and have faith that the nightmare is ending and cue up Aldo Nova's "Monkey off your back" b/c it's coming baby!!