Happy 2014 my fellow Bills fans. Here are some thoughts on 2013 and looking ahead to 2014. In completely random order.
1) Success is a funny thing, once you start doing it you are held to a higher standard almost immediately. As a result of our off season sans Buddy Nix, I have high expectations for Doug Whaley.
Whaley brought in Dan Carpenter, Manny Lawson, Nickel Robey, our 2013 draft class (?), Jerry Hughes, Thad Lewis and Alan Branch. These all seem like pretty darn good hauls from this past year. Specifically in the pro personnel department where your guys like Lawson and Hughes came out.
I look at our needs on the roster and because of last seasons acquisitions with Whaley at the helm, I expect him to find at least 2 starters via the pro personnel side. Then at least 2 starters via the draft. At a minimum!
Yes, I expect Doug Whaley will get us 4 starting quality players somewhere on the roster. In years past, I wouldn't have expected as much. But now I do. Get it done Doug.
Oh, one more thing. Keep trading if it keeps working out like it has for us. I think the league has gotten too far away from trades and i'm glad that Whaley hasn't been shy about doing those things.
2) Looking back on the EJ not playing the past 2 games of the year I disagreed with it, big time. Now, looking back, I think it was the right call (I can change my mind....right?) and here's why.
Going into 2013 we didn't know who our starting QB was going to be. Kolb was thought of as a veteran guy that would probably grab the QB position and hold it down until EJ took over or something else happened. A lot of people mentioned that Manuel shouldn't even play this year because he is so raw that he needs to learn the game. I've always thought if a QB can play you play him because experience trumps everything.
Looking back on 2013, it seems we accomplished both him getting playing experience and sitting and learning while watching Thad and Tuel play the game. EJ started 10 games as the QB of the Bills this year. That's not a bad amount of games to start and get some experience. I think the coaching staff will be able to evaluate him better had he not played in those 10 games so that should make the off season more productive. Plus, as others have pointed out, he'll get a hell of a lot more out of the off season if he's not rehabbing or getting surgery. This off season is huuuuuuuge. I hope he lives in O.P.
3) If EJ has one more knee injury in which he misses multiple games then the Bills need to hedge their bets for the future. /fin
4) My thoughts on EJ sans injury issues. I'm more excited than I was about EJ even a few weeks ago and here's why.
EJ has shown us a few times that he can put this team into a position to win at the end of the game. It's not something you can quantify but a few times this year it looked like EJ was going to be able to get the team down the field and win in the last few seconds/minutes of the game. That's pretty big. As we all know even the best of the best need their greatness at the end of games to win them, EJ has shown flashes of that this year. That's probably the biggest thing i'm excited for in 2014.
I'm also excited on the Bills staying with Hackett and the majority of the current personnel. The offensive passing attack WILL grow and be more efficient heading into next year. The more Manuel knows the playbook, the more he throws to his guys, the more he gets comfortable with what Hackett wants the better he'll become. He's got all the talent in the world to get the job done and i'm more optimistic now that I was just a few weeks ago. Sometimes I forget how young these kids are and how tough it is to be successful in the NFL. It's really hard to be successful but I think Manuel has shown us that he deserves to be named the starting QB in 2014. I'm excited to watch him grow and getting a new offensive coordinator will immediately stunt his growth.
5) I’ve just gotta say this once, because there’s a lot more negative said about Spiller than positive, and I think it’s complete BS:When you’re injured, when a team can’t find a role on third down for you just because you’re not the greatest pass blocker, and most effing importantly when defenses know that there’s a 60% chance that you’re going to get the football when you’re in the game, it is pretty ridiculously impressive when you still average 4.6 yards per carry and lead your team in rushing. Especially considering how awesome Fred Jackson is.
6) Towards the end of the year I watched some more All-22 and i'll probably pick it up for next year but I came away with some positives things from Hackett. I saw receivers open a lot that didn't get hit because of the QB or the line breaking down. The more this team plays in his playbook and the more experience Hackett gets the better this team will be. Getting rid of him now is a knee jerk reaction.
7) If the Saints let Graham test the free agent market I believe Buffalo will try very hard to sign him.
8) I think a few things are going to happen with Byrd. Actually, I can only think of 3 things that are going to happen.
First possibility is he'll sign a long term contract and stay in Buffalo. If that doesn't happen we'll franchise him and he'll play for the year in Buffalo. Lastly, he'll get slapped with the franchise tag and then either get traded or not play in 2014. But that's it. Buffalo holds the franchise bargaining chip and we would be more than foolish to let Byrd walk without at least some compensation. The $8.3 he would be due on the tag isn't a deterrent for anything, tag him if he doesn't sign long term and then make him play or trade him for compensation.
9) Doug Marrone - I'm not sure if I like or dislike him. I think he lies to the media or has no clue what he wants to say. I think he'll get better at managing the games but when he's in front of the media it's ugly. I also like the accountability he's putting on players. I think that's gonna go a long way in turning the culture around.
Oh and don't take his word for injuries in his pressers because he's 110% confident that guys will play but also can't ever rule anyone out of a game. Whatever that means.
10) The kickers. Resigning Moorman and Carpenter are no brainers. Moorman might not be what he use to be but he's more than sufficient as a camp body and hopefully someone younger can unseat him.
11) I like Jonramz's idea for a super unit on defense. Instead of maybe taking a big WR/TE or whatever at 9, if a good defensive player comes along just take him and add to that unit. There's nothing wrong with having a dominant unit on our team and one in which teams have to adjust their offense, defense and special teams game philosophies around.
12) My roster needs: LG, RT, big WR, all round TE, another stud on the defensive line if possible, a LB to put by Kiko and.... is that it? I think we need a mandatory 5 (LG, RT, WR, TE, LB) players but....wait. Has this roster been turned around? Sure as hell looks like it. Now they need to grow and learn how to win together. Actually, I think this team is simply just waiting on a QB to take control and make this team win. I've said it before and i'll say it again: even above average QB play gets this team into the playoffs this year....and I mean it (you reading this, EJ?)
I think that's it.