The Buffalo Bills opened training camp on Sunday and, well, next stop is the Super Bowl. Right?
That’s how Las Vegas sees it because the Bills (+600) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+700) are the conference favorites for Super Bowl 57 next February.
And that’s how the NFL and TV networks obviously see it because they matched the Bills against the Los Angeles Rams in the season’s prime time Thursday night opener Sept. 8, a game that typically matches the league’s defending Super Bowl champion against a likely title challenger.
And with all these lofty expectations, one can add the Bills themselves.
They opened camp at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., and are not avoiding the championship projections but rather embracing them. Hard.
“Hopefully by the time we leave St. John Fisher we’ll know what type of team we are mentally and physically and we can start developing game plans and go from there week by week,” All Pro quarterback Josh Allen said Sunday. “But there’s no higher expectation than what we have for ourselves in the locker room, and if you’re a team that doesn’t have Super Bowl or nothing in your mind then I don’t think you’re doing it the right way.”
We pause the expectation train to say the Bills are a long way from becoming the NFL’s next dynasty. They’re not even ready for the coming season yet.
That was clear as they kind of, sort of struggled to get out of their own way Sunday morning. Allen and the offense began the day slowly, completing a reported 5-of-15 passes with only one of those going from Allen to his go-to receiver Stefon Diggs.
Allen’s first four attempts to Diggs, in fact, fell incomplete for one reason or another. Not that Allen was worried afterward.
“It was exciting to get back on the field and run some real plays,” he said before suggesting failure in camp can sometimes be a good thing.
“Go out there and have days like this where some things didn’t work, it’s obviously why we do this on the first day,” Allen said. “Let’s figure out what’s going to work? How we can fix things, how we can improve. At any point during training camp, if we’re perfect, that’s worrisome.”
Last we saw Allen on a football field, you may recall, he threw 9 TD passes without an interception and completed 77.4 percent of his passes in two playoff games. He definitely wasn’t the reason the Bills didn’t advance in the postseason.
But things have changed now.
Former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who helped Allen develop into a star, took a new job as the New York Giants head coach. The Bills promoted quarterback coach Ken Dorsey to offensive coordinator and, of course, made personnel changes throughout the roster.
So Allen admits there’s work to be done.
“We have to come out here and find ways to get better and improve on ourselves,” he said. “Nothing we did last year is going to carry over to this year. Nothing we do next year is going to affect us this year. It’s a brand new season, everyone’s starting 0-0.
“We’re a new team. We’re a different team. We know that. We understand that. We’ve got different pieces, a new offensive coordinator, a new mindset. So again, just trying to find what we are, what our identity is. That’s what training camp is for.”
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