ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.-- Once again there's that feeling of disappointment for the Buffalo Bills as they cleaned out their lockers Monday and headed for home. The Bills missed the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season despite improvements in certain areas. They finished with a 6-10 won loss record.
Despite their disappointment at being out of the playoffs again, players share a sense of optimism about the future for the Bills. Veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams said "I can honestly tell you that looking ahead, I feel good about it. I think that we have some good pieces in place. I think that what we're doing, especially defensively, I felt good about. We'll continue to add guys like teams always do through free agency or the draft, whether that's on offense or defense. Guys will get another year in what we're doing, a little more experience, and I feel good about the direction we're headed. Now, that doesn't say that we don't have a lot of work to do, because we do, but the good thing is we have a long offseason, we have a bitter pill to swallow headed into that off season, and hopefully that'll prod a little bit."
Running back Fred Jackson share some similar thoughts. "If you look at our record at the surface it's the exact same team. If you watched us compete throughout this season, we were in every game. We showed up, we competed and that's what we have to continue to do. We've got to be consistent. There are times that we didn't play as well as we wanted to and we'll get that taken care of. If you watched us play this year, you'll know that we're not the same team that we've been. We didn't get blown out every time we stepped on the field. There are no moral victories, we know that. We know that for us to be relevant we have to win more football games and by no means am I condoning what we did this season and saying that we're satisfied with the way things turned out this year because we're not. We're just as frustrated as anybody else. We'll continue to work at it and continue to come out and strive to get better as a team." Center Eric Wood added "You're disappointed obviously, you hate to be going home today. But in the same sense, I'm excited about where we're going with all the young talent on this team and the direction of this franchise."
When the season started the Bills quarterbacks combined had one game of NFL experience. Injuries limited EJ Manuel, who the Bills drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, to just ten games. Manuel missed the last two games with a knee injury. He said Monday he hasn't made a decision on having surgery on his left knee. He added that his injury could be cured with rest. Manuel said he gained valuable experience in his rookie season in the NFL." I would say it was a great season to learn from. Obviously you're going to have ups and downs as a rookie being a young guy in a new system and things like that. Facing teams for the first time every time, traveling for the first time every time, different cities and things. For me I'm just looking forward to the 2014 season and really just honing in on all the things I did well and the things I didn't do well and just trying to fix the things I did not do well." Manuel said that even though head coach Doug Marrone told him he's the starting quarterback in 2014 he still has plenty of work to do to get better. " I think in this league you always have to keep that edge to yourself, knowing that somebody is always coming for your job. With the season that we've had, I don't feel like I can just sit here and be comfortable. Changes are going to be made all the time, so I know for me, personally, I'm going to always continue to work hard and make sure I'm ready to go. I do know I'm the leader and the quarterback right now of this team, so with that being said, I'm going to continue to work hard."