The feeling around Western New York is that this is the year that the Buffalo Bills will snap their 14-year playoff drought, and the pressures of that feeling are mounting as the season creeps closer.
Bills head coach Doug Marrone echoed that sentiment yesterday.
"Here’s what I sense. We’re close. We are close," Marrone said. "What is it going to be to get over the top? It’s a matter of either you get over the top or you don’t and we’ve got to find a way to push ourselves over the top. There’s a lot less things I’m focused on from the year before. There’s a lot less this year. Now, this year is critical to get us over the top. I’m doing everything I possibly can to get us over the top and, if intensity is the answer, yeah I’m intense."
There has been plenty of talk about the increased pressure on EJ Manuel to perform in his second season, as the rest of the team appears ready to get to the next level. But Marrone is under plenty of pressure as well. Head coaches in the NFL don't have a very good shelf life if they continue to string together losing seasons, and Marrone is very aware of that.
"I think for us as coaches there’s always a sense of urgency," Marrone said. "The years of three-year plans or five-year plans are long gone. That doesn't happen. The sense of urgency for us as coaches is extremely high no matter what the situation is."
The season is slowly approaching, as Buffalo will play its third preseason game Saturday. Final cuts are coming as well, and Marrone knows he needs to hit on every player, whether he decides to keep them or cut them, in order for Buffalo to be successful.
"We talk to people about competition and expectations and all that, but our focus, right now, is on moving forward and making sure we have the right players in order for us to win," Marrone said. "I’m working with Doug [Whaley], looking at the tape and going back and crossing the t’s and dotting the I’s to get this team ready for the season."
Even though he's only entering his second season, the pressure is on Marrone to win this season, much like Manuel The Bills have given up too much not to win. Buffalo traded away next year's first-round pick to Cleveland for Sammy Watkins and a fourth-round pick for Bryce Brown, not to mention the seventh-rounder for Mike Williams. Buffalo has offensive weapons now, and they will need to be much better than they were a year ago to have any chance in getting to the next level and ending their embarrassing playoff drought.
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