Recently Pro Football Talk ranked the Buffalo Bills as the 28th best team in the league, or the fourth worst team depending on how you view it, and got me thinking about why the team is considered as low as it is. Bills fans have suffered through enough 6-10 seasons, and only had one winning season since 2000, so past history plays a part into this view, but what sort of outcome is needed for the team to be deemed successful? Fans are desperate for a winner and the pieces are in place to do so, but for comparison’s sake the parallels between the Bills of 2013 and the 2012 Miami Dolphins are abundant.
Last year as the HBO cameras began to roll on the franchise located on South Beach, many experts and people around the league viewed the Miami Dolphins as AFC East roadkill for the upcoming season and doomed for a top ten pick in the draft. They, like the Bills, were coming off a losing season, drafted a quarterback in the first round, and hired a new coach. In the subsequent season, under first year head coach Joe Philbin, the Dolphins improved their record by one win to 7-9, with two of those wins against playoff teams (Seattle and Cincinnati), and played tough against division opponents New York, New England, and even the Bills. The Dolphins are now viewed as a franchise with a good coach, a quarterback of the future, and tough defensively to play against. All this means that the Dolphins could have a chance to not only get over the .500 mark, but possibly steal a wildcard spot, if not the division depending on how the Patriots play.
The Bills now give rookie head coach Doug Marrone his chance to bring the organization to respectability. The team also went out and drafted quarterback EJ Manuel in the first round mimicking Miami and their selection of Ryan Tannehill. Though the Bills did not field a good defense last year (26th) compared to the 2012 Dolphins (6th), there are good players at key positions already in place. The unit as a whole should improve thanks to the scheme changes and the player additions.
The analogues of Tannehill and Manuel also continue in how each will win the starting position. Tannehill started behind veteran David Garrard and it was an injury that started “the future is now” movement for Miami. Manuel will likely begin camp behind veteran Kevin Kolb, and depending on injury and performance, may see the same scenario played out.
The two teams are operated in different ways, but if the Dolphins do improve this season, then the Bills can look at themselves in the mirror and understand that progression as a team may not be evident in the win column this year, but if a team such as the Dolphins can turn it around, then so can the Bills.