PITTSFORD – The Buffalo Bills don’t seem to be taking it personally that they’re widely viewed as “the same old Bills” from a national perspective.
Many members of the Bills recognize they need to prove people wrong with actions, not words.
“We haven’t done anything,” said Bills General Manager Doug Whaley. “We’ve got a lot to prove. It is what it is. … We haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time. We owe it to the fans, our late Hall-of-Fame owner and everybody in this business to show that we’re not the Bills anymore. We want to be a playoff team, and we’re planning to be a playoff team. That’s our goal.”
Las Vegas oddsmakers are not expecting Buffalo to be anywhere close to the playoffs. The over-under for Bills victories this season is 6.5, according to Nevada betting houses.
ESPN.com and the Sporting News both ranked the Bills 27th out of 32 NFL teams this summer. ProFootballTalk.com ranks them 28th. Athlon’s annual preview ranks them 11th out of 16 in the AFC.
The Bills get to work on changing their profile today. The first training camp practice starts at 6 p.m. in suburban Rochester. There are no more tickets available for the opening workout at St. John Fisher College.
Given the Bills have finished 6-10 three straight seasons, the forecasts are not a surprise.
“That’s nothing new,” said Bills safety Aaron Williams. “It’s every year. Everybody just thinks we’re the same old Bills, and that’s fine with me. I completely understand that they think we’re the same old Bills that every year everybody gets hyped up for an incredible season and then people get let down with a six-win season. To me, I’m getting tired of it, as well. It’s a new attitude I’m bringing to the table. We’re going to be a winning team, and we’re going to come out here with a new attitude and be aggressive and bring this city more wins.”
Many athletes like feeding off the underdog role.
“I like the Buffalo Bills, that goes without saying,” said second-year receiver Marquise Goodwin. “We’ve been putting work in through this offseason, through camp. I kind of like coming from the bottom, and we’re going to have to work our way up. There’s going to be a lot of bandwagon fans out there coming out of the woodwork, so I’m looking forward to it.”
“I’ve always been an underdog in a lot of things I’ve done, especially coming into this league as an undrafted guy,” receiver Chris Hogan said. “I love when people don’t expect stuff from me or us as a team. As a team we expect to be really good, and our goals are really high. As far as what other people expect from us, when we go out there and we put in this work during camp, then preseason, I guarantee we’re going to turn some heads.”
Bills running back Fred Jackson says the familiarity of the players with Doug Marrone’s system in Year Two of the coach’s tenure is good reason to expect improvement.
“The No. 1 thing I’m excited about is a second year under this coaching staff,” Jackson said. “Their No. 1 thing coming in was to get this thing turned around. Being with those guys for a second year, having figured out each other and what we want to do, how to use us and how to put guys in positions to make plays, I think it’s going to be a tremendous thing that comes to fruition for us this year. … It’s easy to sit here and talk about it, but I think we have the keys. We’ve added some pieces.”
Second-year receiver Robert Woods shrugged off the gloomy forecasts.
“The way I see it, it really doesn’t matter, their opinion,” Woods said. “Then I also see it as that’s our fault. We need to play better. … We have to do better in prep, and it starts here.”