The Buffalo Bills have been a storied franchise ever since merging with the National Football League in 1970. Prior to the merger, the Bills began competitive play when current owner, Ralph Wilson Jr. bought the team in 1960 to play in the AFL.
After a history of glory years, and years many fans would like to forget, there are still some major misconceptions about the team and franchise as a whole.
This slideshow will document those issues, and explain why they are simply misconceptions, and not true.
There have been many rumors circulating that the Buffalo Bills could be one of the franchises expected to make the move to Los Angeles, a city that has been longing for a football team to call their own ever since the Raiders and Rams moved to Oakland and St. Louis, respectively, after the 1994 season.
However, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined some guidelines to franchises in hopes of moving, and it doesn't seem like the Bills are in the mix, with the L.A Times citing the Chargers, Raiders, Rams and Jaguars as the teams most likely to make the move.
Another positive for the Bills is that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has been in discussions with executives of the Buffalo Bills with intentions of getting a new lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium done prior to the start of training camp, therefore keeping the team in Western New York for the foreseeable future.
“We had a good negotiation session and I stand by what I have been saying which is we hope to have the major negotiation points agreed to by the beginning of Bills Training Camp. That doesn’t mean we will have a new lease by then by any means but we hope to have the major negotiation points agreed to at that time. I then plan on having a new lease agreement in place by the end of the summer,” said Poloncarz.
The Bills are reportedly looking for over $200 million in improvements to the 39-year-old facility, which was constructed in 1972 for $22 million dollars. The stadium is owned by Erie County and leased to the Buffalo Bills who, in turn, operate the stadium and retain all profits. The current lease expires in July of 2013.
After more than a decade of missing the playoffs, fans of the Buffalo Bills have relegated to placing the blame on owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. to simply being too cheap to put to championship team on the field.
However, lets take a look at some of the recent contracts that Mr. Wilson has handed out and eventually let them walk in free agency.
In March 2003, signing the former first-round draft pick to a six-year, $32 million contract, a deal that played through before moving to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In 2002, the Buffalo Bills signed London Fletcher to a five-year deal in which he earned roughly $16 million before letting him move on to the Washington Redskins.
In 2004, The Bills signed All-Pro defensive back Troy Vincent to a six-year, $20 million deal, but released him after being injured.
The list goes on with players such as Antoine Winfield, Nate Clements and Lawyer Milloy to name a few, but in recent seasons, Wilson went all in.
Two years ago, the Bills re-signed defensive end Chris Kelsay to a five-year, $28.2 million deal, and last year, the Bills re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a seven-year, $62 million deal.
This offseason, the Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $96 million deal and defensive end Mark Anderson to a four-year, $19.5 million deal.
While Wilson has a history of letting players walk in free agency, he has made a splash in recent years to improve the team.
However, the past two seasons, the Bills have been plagued by injuries at key positions. Last year, the Bills were poised for a playoff run after a solid 5-2 record to begin the season, but they lost the best running back in the NFL at the time, Fred Jackson, for the year, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, wide receivers Donald Jones and Roscoe Parrish, center Eric Wood, cornerback Terrence McGee, linebacker, Shawne Merriman and even their kicker, Rian Lindell, to injured reserve.
This forced the Bills into playing reserves for the remainder of the season, hindering any playoff hopes they once had.
This offseason, they addressed key needs and added depth across the board, while the division foe Dolphins traded their best wide receiver, have questions at quarterback and are transitioning to a new defensive scheme.
The Jets also have turmoil at quarterback and problems in the locker room, while the Patriots are aging and had one of the worst defenses in the league last season despite reaching the Super Bowl.
On paper, the Bills easily passed the Dolphins, and probably the Jets. They split the series with the Patriots last year and could surpass them in the AFC East if they play well and stay healthy.
When the Buffalo Bills couldn't re-sign left tackle Demetress Bell this offseason, many believed there would be a gaping hole at the blindside position. However, Bell was injured for most of the 2011 campaign, allowing then-rookie Chris Hairston to earn valuable reps. In the draft, the Bills added Cordy Glenn to compete for a starting role.
While many pundits saw him as a better fit for the guard position, general manager Buddy Nix clearly sees him as a left tackle, according to The Buffalo News. Said Nix:
We've been trying to get a guy that we thought was good enough to be a starting left tackle in this league, and we thought Cordy Glenn was that guy from the start...
Coach Chan Gailey has had nothing but praise for the massive 6'6" 346-pounder (via BuffaloBills.com).
"He’s done a good job. He’s got some things to learn,” said Gailey. ”The speed of this game is so different. So he’s got a lot of learning to do. He’s got physical talent and he’s got ability. He’s got a work ethic that will allow him to get there. He just needs as many reps as he can possibly get between now and the first game of the year.”
Glenn has taken every first-team rep throughout the entire offseason workout program, and the second-rounder is the front-runner to protect QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Chris Hairston made seven starts on the blind side and performed fairly well. However, he hasn't seen any first-team reps throughout OTAs, and with right tackle Erik Pears signed to a new deal, Hairston seems like the odd man out.
Hairston has been taking reps at right tackle in place of Erik Pears, who was absent from the beginning of OTAs, but it's doubtful he sees any starting time unless there is an injury.
Either way, the Bills have depth at the position, and losing Bell wont be an issue.
Out of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the National Football League, ESPN's Ron Jaworski ranked the Bills signal-caller 24th, citing his inconsistency and his footwork.
Fitzpatrick got off to a hot start in his 2011 campaign, tossing 14 touchdowns to just six interceptions for 1,736 yards in his first six games of the year.
However, in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins, Fitzpatrick cracked four ribs and bruised his sternum from a devastating blow by linebacker London Fletcher, according to Buffalo News.
After suffering the injury, Fitzpatrick threw just 10 touchdowns to an unimpressive 16 interceptions in the remaining nine games.
Fitzpatrick finished the season completing 62 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,832 yards, 24 touchdowns and a league-leading 23 interceptions.
This offseason, he has been working on his throwing mechanics with quarterback coach David Lee. Fitzpatrick has realized his shortcomings in his footwork, telling BuffaloBills.com:
He’s all about the lower half...The footwork, making sure you’re not getting your feet in the way of your hips when you’re throwing the ball. That’s something we’ve worked on a lot because I have an issue with balls I’m throwing to my left, just making sure everything is open so I’m not closing my hips off and can’t fire with balls dying. There are a lot of things that we have been looking at after he made a bunch of clips from last year of specific throws that I’ve struggled with.
With his injury healed and an offseason to further improve his mechanics, Fitzpatrick could be a late sleeper with high potential to improve from the 207 fantasy points he scored last year.