Every year an NFL roster undergoes change that averages a turnover rate of 25-30 percent. Buffalo's coaching staff saw a similar degree of change this offseason with six new coaches including defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Nevertheless head coach Doug Marrone is convinced that entering season two they're far ahead of where they were at this time last year.
"You have a better feel for the players," Marrone told Buffalobills.com. "We have a lot of players that are coming back on this team. I got a chance to know quite a few of them at all different levels not just what you see on the field. I think in turn they got a chance to know me. Everyone knows the direction we want to head and what the challenges are and where we have to go. We're excited we're now working for 2014."
Last year at this time the coaching staff was spending most of their time reviewing 2012 game tape in an effort to get a handle on the players they inherited. Now they're reviewing tape as a group to take a broader approach that goes beyond individual talent. The staff is working on coming up with solutions to their shortcomings from last season in all three phases.
"Having gone through it together (as coaches) you've seen the players, you know what we were telling them and what we were trying to get accomplished. There were a lot of pluses out there," Marrone said. "We are what we are and we were a 6-10 ball club and it's disappointing for all of us, but at the same time there are a lot of things that we can build on. We have some talented players on this team and we have to find ways that we can keep showcasing that talent to give us an advantage to win the close games."
Marrone also takes stock in the fact that he has his team leaders identified and knows they're capable of pushing everyone on the roster.
Still, there is no getting around the changes that will be coming on defense with Jim Schwartz implementing his defensive system, which will require some measure of adjustment from the players to the scheme they played in a season ago.
"For us they'll be some change, but change is not a bad thing," said Marrone. "The one thing we're looking to do in all three phases is we're always striving to make things simpler so the players can just go out there and play. I think a lot of the time as coaches we make this game very complicated. I think that schematically we're going to look and see and maybe do more for those players that have shown us game breaking ability or showcased more talent."
Marrone maintains that before Schwartz was even hired a decision had been made to change some things defensively to address their biggest problem, run defense.
"There were going to be some changes that we were going to do to put us in better position to stop the run," he said. "We'll continue with that plan with Jim (Schwartz) and do a better job of that. That's one of the things that we didn't do a very good job of and our job is to try to better ourselves in the things that we didn't do well."
With six new assistants the staff will also have to capably blend all the new ideas entering the discussion on how to improve the product on the field, but Marrone is confident that his coaches are laser-focused.
"I think we all know exactly what we have to do. As coaches we have to make sure that we take the players we have on this team and put them in the best position to win," said Marrone. "Get a good plan, get ahead of schedule and break down our opponents for 2014. So our focus right now is how we do a better job as coaches in getting this team ready to compete in 2014."
And with a year already under their belt in Buffalo Marrone and his staff firmly believe notable improvement is on the horizon.
"The first year it's tough because it's a work in progress as you go," he said. "For us I see us getting better. We do have talent on this team and it's our job as coaches to get the most out of it. We were in a lot of close games and when you go through that together that's really part of building a team. We had our share of that the first year and now we have to get over that hump and do it together."