Tonawanda News


May 31, 2014

Bills eager to improve popgun offense


Tonawanda News — It's all about offense in Buffalo, and a team eager to end a 14-season playoff drought that stands as the NFL's longest active streak.

Offensive struggles are nothing new in Buffalo, and a reflection of the Bills' failure to find a long-term successor at quarterback since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996. The Bills haven't finished in the NFL's top 10 in net yards gained since a sixth-place ranking in 1998 under Doug Flutie.

"It's one of the worst feelings in the world," running back Fred Jackson said about the lengthy string of offensive inconsistencies. "You want to be known as an explosive offense that you have to fear when you step on the field. And we haven't been that for a while. We've been stagnant."

Jackson has high hopes that is about to change.

"The sky's the limit," he said. "It's one of the No. 1 things that we're talking about in OTA's is being able to make big plays for ourselves on offense and take a lot of pressure off the defense."

Where the Bills struggled was in the passing game. Buffalo finished 28th in yards passing, and Manuel's development was slowed by three separate knee injuries that led to him missing six regular season and two preseason games.

Watkins provides the offense a dynamic outside threat, and complements what was the league's second-best running attack last season.

So the emphasis is on Manuel to stay healthy and show signs of improvement entering his second season.

"He's the cog to this. He's going to take us as far as we can go," Jackson said of Manuel. "He knows the pressure's on him. And he's embracing that."

NOTES: DB Darius Robinson did not practice Friday, a day after hurting his left shoulder while falling awkwardly to the ground attempting to cover receiver Ramses Barden. ... DL Alan Branch and LB Manny Lawson are the only veterans who have not been present for all three voluntary sessions. ... The Bills are off until resuming a voluntary three-day minicamp on Tuesday.

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