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2014 NFL Season Preview- Buffalo Bills
After drafting Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel and hiring Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, the Buffalo Bills looked to rebuild a team that had not made the playoffs in 13 years.
Marrone's first season was the same record as Chan Galley's last, but the locker room mentally was very different. The defense finished second in the league in sacks and interceptions and first in negative yardage plays. Every level of the defense played better than the previous season.
E.J. Manuel was battered by injury for most of the season but did show signs that he can be a good NFL quarterback. Second round picks wide receiver Robert Woods and linebacker Kiko Alonso played much better than expected. Woods proved to be an excellent route runner and knew how to get open for Manuel. Alonso played every snap on defense and averaged 10 tackles a game.
The stars of the Bills' 2013 team were the defensive linemen. Defensive end Mario Williams and defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus were all named pro bowlers. Defensive end Jerry Hughes was no slouch recording 10 sacks on the season.
The Bills will have to make some drastic changes if Marrone wants to be around for a third season.
Bills 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 2nd
NFL Rank- 4th
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 19th
NFL Rank- 10th
After Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. passed away in March, there were many questions raised about the organization's future. The team will be owned by the Wilson family trust for the remainder of the year and will be sold after the season.
The team went through some notable personnel changes in the offseason. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine left team to be the head coach in Cleveland. He was replaced by for mere Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.
During offseason workouts, linebacker Kiko Alonso injured his knee. He will be out for the entire season.
Notable additions- RB Bryce Brown, WR Ramses Barden, WR Mike Williams, LB Brandon Spikes
Notable departures- FS Jarius Byrd, WR Stevie Johnson, SS Jim Leonhard
Bills Defense Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
The Bills had many voids to fill in the draft. The biggest one was finding a number one wide receiver. Stevie Johnson was very inconsistent in 2013 and was eventually traded to San Francisco. Rookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin were very productive, but the team needs someone who can do it all. They had they had their hopes set on Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins was seen as the top rated receiver partly because of the ways he was used at Clemson. The big knock on him was his lack of physicality and worries about character because 2012 drug related arrest.
The team also needed to added depth at the linebacker corps and the offensive. Other than Kiko Alonso, the linebackers played very inconsistent and are in need of improvement from the outside backers. The offensive line under performed in pass protection and was part of the reason E.J. Manuel was always on his back in the pocket.
When draft day came along, the Bills traded up from ninety, to the Browns fourth spot to draft Sammy Watkins. In the second round, the team selected Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
Sammy Watkins Highlight
What to Expect
With the edition of tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, E.J. Manuel will have a reliable left tackle to protect his blind side. Sammy Watkins gives the team a true number one receiver that can stretch the field, taking double teams, and open up plays for Robert Woods. The offensive attack of running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson will continue to rush through defenses as they did last season as the second best rushing team in the league.
The defense will suffer not only because of the loss of Kiko Alonso, but the loss of their two starting safeties. Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers will have to step up and take control of stopping the run while the pro bowl defensive line generates the pass rush.
The team as is it stands now is set for a 180 on both sides of the ball. The offense will be improved while the defense will take a step back due to injuries. Overall expect a slightly better outing than 2013.
Best record they can hope for- 7-9