DIERKEN: Bills’ philosophy will make for thrilling season, regardless of results

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The NFL season is just around the corner, and for Buffalo Bills fans, this has meant one thing for the past 13 years — dreams are about to be crushed.

Sadly, July and August have become the most exciting months for Bills fans since 2000, the last time the team made the NFL playoffs.

Year after year, the franchise sells its fan base on a new draft pick or free agent signing, and the buzz around town during the days and weeks leading up to the season is that this might finally be the year the team breaks its playoff drought.

And every year, the team finds yet another way to break this city’s heart.

But this year will be different.

The anticipation for this season is not that the team will make the playoffs. Frankly, it isn’t even that they will make a giant leap forward and be in postseason contention late in the season.

This year, the anticipation revolves around the new direction of the franchise, highlighted by the hiring of Doug Marrone as head coach and the drafting of EJ Manuel.

Marrone represents a new philosophy for the organization regarding its head coach.

The past few head coaching searches had all followed the same pattern. The names of one or two big-name coaches were floated around in connection with Buffalo. But ultimately, they went with an older coach who hadn’t experienced very much NFL success in the past.

This time was different, though. While Marrone might not have been the first name on every fan’s mind, the fact that he is a young coach and new to the NFL is something not seen around these parts in a long time.

Marrone brings a young mind to the organization, with an old school background as a former offensive lineman in the league.

His philosophies will be a breath of fresh air to a fan base that has grown accustomed to the same boring mentality for the last decade.

More importantly, his guidance will be pivotal to the development of Manuel.

Manuel may not start, but based on Kevin Kolb’s injury history and his ability, or lack thereof, on the field, Manuel will get some playing time at some point.

When he does, Bills fans around the country will be tuning in, looking for even a small glimpse of what the Bills saw in the Florida State product to make him the highest quarterback selected in April’s NFL Draft.

The success of the 2013 Buffalo Bills will not be judged on wins and losses. If the team does well, it will be an added bonus.

The real test will be Manuel’s growth as a quarterback, and Marrone’s development as an NFL head coach.

If Manuel shows flashes of becoming the franchise quarterback the Bills have been searching for since Jim Kelly, the excitement around this city will be unbelievable.

At the same time, if Marrone shows that he has what it takes to be a successful NFL head coach, the Bills will have more momentum as a franchise than they have had since the ‘90s.

Be patient, Bills fans. The team may not show it in the win column this year, but this organization is back. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Chris Dierken can be reached by email at dierken.record@live.com or on Twitter @cdierken.

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