Change has been a major theme for the Buffalo Bills organization for more than a decade now. The problem is that the more things change, the more things have stayed the same. The Bills are owners of the longest current playoff drought in the NFL, which reached 13-straight seasons when the team won just six games a year ago. Buffalo hired head coach Doug Marrone out of Syracuse, drafted a new franchise quarterback in EJ Manuel, and added talent on both sides of the ball. That said, only two teams are considered bigger long shots to win the Super Bowl in 2013, with the Bills listed at +10,000.
2013 Super Bowl Odds: +10,000
Notable Change #1: Bills Take College Route By Hiring Marrone
The Bills have tried nearly everything from young to old, offensive-minded and defensive-minded, but they have yet to find a quality long-term option. Next up is Marrone, the former Syracuse coach that also spent four years as an offensive line coach with the New York Jets before working three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton. Marrone is an assertive leader that has a firm understanding of how to get the most out of his talent and put his players in position to succeed, and he will not waste any time trying to establish a new culture in Buffalo.
Notable Change #2: Spiller Set To Take Over As Featured Back In Year Four
One of the major differences under Marrone will be the emphasis the Bills place on their rushing attack, which has ranked among the best in the NFL over the past couple of years but hasn’t gotten as many touches as fans would have liked to see. There will also be a changing of the guard with CJ Spiller set to take over as the featured back in his fourth season, replacing Fred Jackson as the undisputed No. 1. Jackson will still be an effective threat in tandem with Spiller, while Tashard Choice fights for his share of carries as the third-down running back. Marrone has not decided whether first-round pick EJ Manuel, or one of veterans Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson will start at quarterback, but Spiller and the rushing attack will be featured regardless.
Notable Change #3: Strong Draft Class Provides Immediate Help
Manuel was the first pick made by Buffalo in what was an excellent draft class overall, with second-round picks wide receiver Robert Woods and linebacker Kiko Alonso both having the potential to contribute right away. Woods is a speedy, elusive receiver that can step in to the starting line up and provide the type of big play deep threat that the Bills have lacked opposite Steve Johnson over the years, while Alonso could being the top back up at the linebacker spot if he doesn’t crack the starting line up. Third-round pick receiver Marquise Goodwin was a track star that could figure in to the return game immediately, while safeties Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks have starting potential but will contribute right away on special teams. Ultimately Manuel will need to succeed for this draft class to live up to its potential, but there are some excellent picks in this group that should be able to make an immediate impact regardless of whether he starts from year one.
Click here to get a full list of NFL futures for the 2013-14 NFL season.