NFL Football 2013: Buffalo Bills Preview
When people who engage in online betting try to assess the Buffalo Bills for the coming NFL season, they’re not going to find many reasons for optimism. There’s just no way to get around the idea that this struggling, suffering franchise will not change its overall trajectory anytime soon, even though a new head coach, former Syracuse boss Doug Marrone, is now in charge. It’s true that former head coach Chan Gailey was a disaster for the organization, but Marrone – like any other coach – needs top-quality players in order to win, and the Bills simply don’t measure up in that regard.
American sport betting gurus who focus more on the tangible elements of competition (while others look at the intangibles of a gameday situation) will point out that Buffalo is starting over not just at the head coaching spot, but at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was given more money and playing time than he had fully earned, is gone. That’s the good news. However, who’s replacing him? Kevin Kolb came over from Arizona to compete for the starting job. If Kolb can stay healthy, he might have a chance to make a modest impact, but Kolb has been an injury magnet in the NFL, and his career has never gotten off the ground. The other potential opening-day starter under center is the team’s first draft pick, E.J. Manuel of Florida State. The analytical website Walter Football is incisive and on-point in its assessment of Manuel and the Bills’ draft-day thinking: “Thirty-one teams believed that there was no quarterback worth taking in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Bills thought otherwise. They traded down from No. 8 to No. 16 and then took E.J. Manuel out of Florida State. Manuel was the best signal-caller at the Senior Bowl, but there's no denying that he's incredibly raw and not nearly prepared to start in the NFL. He'll generate some first downs and find the end zone on occasion with his legs, but his accuracy and decision-making aren't there quite yet. He'll be responsible for a high percentage of turnovers until he learns how to play the position.”
One has to emphasize the point that Manuel, despite being surrounded by an ample amount of skill-position talent at Florida State, struggled to make the right reads and the right throws. Even in the Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois, Manuel’s accuracy came and went. He is not yet a fully polished quarterback with a complete skill set. He can’t make every kind of throw, and he didn’t exhibit mastery of the position in college. The NFL game will be difficult for him to conquer – not just this year, but over an extended period of time. The Bills just can’t expect to do much of anything this year with Manuel; Kolb could perhaps offer the potential of a one- or two-game improvement, but nothing more.
On defense, the Bills were supposed to be a much better pass-rushing team last season, but their acquisitions, especially defensive end Shawne Merriman, did not pan out. Buffalo picked up defensive end Jerry Hughes from the Indianapolis Colts to bolster its pass rush; the Bills need to see results in this facet of competition. If you can’t rush Tom Brady in the AFC East, you’re toast. The sportsbook consensus is that it’s going to be a long uphill climb for the Bills this fall.