The Buffalo Bills went for a complete revamp in the 2013 offseason. Although they're still a long shot to end the NFL's longest active playoff drought, there's new hope with Doug Marrone in charge and a fresh group of quarterbacks competing for the starting gig.
The Bills' record might not improve a bunch after a 6-10 year, and C.J. Spiller will still be the primary bread-winner as the offense will likely flow through the talented running back, but there are new schemes and new faces. Year 1 under Marrone should be intriguing, at the very least, and training camp will be the first true opportunity to see what's in store for the Bills.
Where to start? The Bills dipped into the college ranks by grabbing Marrone, who turned a dismal Syracuse squad and won eight games, including a bowl, this past season at his alma mater. His 25-25 college record isn't stellar, but Marrone's NFL credentials are strong: he turned the Saints into one of the league's most effective offensive units with Drew Brees slinging the ball, although he resigned a year before they won the 2009 Super Bowl to take the 'Cuse job.
Nathaniel Hackett, Marrone's offensive coordinator at Syracuse, is in as the OC in Buffalo. EJ Manuel told SB Nation's Dan Rubenstein that his offense is simple, in a good way: it looks to make the quarterback a facilitator rather than a playmaker. Mike Pettine, who was the defensive coordinator on some very solid Jets squads, is installing a defense that Buffalo Rumblings writes breeds on versatility.
The personnel changes aren't as drastic, but they start at a pretty important position: everybody who played quarterback last year on the Bills is gone. Ryan Fitzpatrick signed with the Titans after throwing for 3,400 yards, and Tyler Thigpen and Tarvaris Jackson are gone as well. They took Manuel with the No. 16 pick in the draft, surprising many by making the Florida State product first quarterback off the board. And they signed Kevin Kolb, paying him like a high-end backup, although he might well earn the starting gig.
Also noteworthy are a pair of wide receivers, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, taken in the second and third rounds, and second-round pick Kiko Alonso, a linebacker out of Oregon expected to start right away.
Training camp location and schedule
Sunday, July 28, 6:10-9 p.m., night practiceMonday, July 29, 2:10-5:10 p.m., practiceTuesday, July 30, 8:10-11:10 a.m., practiceWednesday, July 31, 8:10-11:10 a.m., practiceThursday, August 1, 8:10-11:10 a.m., practiceFriday, August 2, 8:10-11:10 a.m., practiceSaturday, August 3, 8:10-11:10 a.m., practiceSunday, August 4, 2:10-5:10 p.m., practiceMonday, August 5, 6:10-9 p.m., night practiceTuesday, August 6: Off dayWednesday, August 7, 2:10-5:10 p.m., practiceThursday, August 8: Off dayFriday, August 9, 6:10-9 p.m., night practiceSaturday, August 10: Travel to IndianapolisSunday, August 11, 1:30 p.m.: preseason game at Indianapolis ColtsMonday, August 12, 2:10-5:10 p.m., practiceTuesday, August 13: Off dayWednesday, August 14, 6:10-9 p.m., night practiceThursday, August 15: Off dayFriday, August 16, 7 p.m.: preseason game vs. Minnesota VikingsSaturday, August 17: Off daySunday, August 18: 8:10-11:10 a.m., practiceMonday, August 19: Off dayTuesday, August 20, 6:10-9 p.m., night practiceWednesday, August 21, 2:10-5:10 p.m., practice