Buffalo Bills: A Little History Lesson

EJ struggled with reads, but the O-Line really let him down. - Photo via www.syracuse.com

EJ has struggled with reads, but the O-Line has really let him down. – Photo via http://www.syracuse.com

Before we all jump on the EJ Manuel “Sucks” bandwagon, I think it’s important to review some history.

EJ Manuel was considered a 3rd/4th round talent in 2013. He was the rawest least ready to play QB in an already weak QB draft. Only 3 QBs were drafted before round 4 and no other QB’s drafted in those rounds are starting. Geno Smith is on the verge of losing his starting job and Mike Glennon may be starting but only because of injury. The Bills went into the 2013 draft knowing they were getting a QB. They traded down from 8 to 16 and picked up an additional 2nd round pick that became Kiko Alonso. There were rumors the eagles wanted Manuel at their pick in the mid-twenties, so the Bills pulled the trigger. Just because EJ was drafted in the first round doesn’t mean he is a first round talent. I think that’s important to remember when judging EJ Manuel. He has every physical attribute you want in a starting QB. He’s 6’5” 240lbs with big hands to grip the ball and a rocket arm. He’s also mobile. Unfortunately, his accuracy and decision-making are not NFL ready and that’s why he and the Bills were struggling.

Remember this guy??? Yeah I didn't think so! - Photo via www.usatoday.com

Remember this guy??? Yeah I didn’t think so! – Photo via http://www.usatoday.com

In 2013 the Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick and signed the often injured Kevin Kolb. The plan was for Kolb being the starter, so EJ can learn and develop behind him. However, Kolb didn’t make it too far into camp. He slipped on a wet mat and hurt his knee. Kolb started the first preseason game against the Vikings and was outplayed by EJ. EJ went 10-12 for 92 yards and a TD. Of course EJ injures his knee in that game and missed the rest of the preseason. The Bills are left with Jeff Tuel and Kevin Kolb. Kevin Kolb’s career as a Buffalo Bill ends, then next week against Washington. As he’s diving for a first down, he takes a knee to the head and leaves the game with concussion like symptoms. That would be the last snap of Kolb’s career. Another Concussion in a long line of concussions. The Bills are now scrambling for a QB. The Bills traded for Thad Lewis from Detroit and sign Matt Leinhart and Dennis Dixon. Thad Lewis appears to be a decent acquisition, but he’s not an experienced starter.

EJ does start week 1 against the Patriots and they almost come out with a win, losing 23-21 and then has a game winning drive the following week against the Panthers winning 24-23. The Bills don’t look horrible and are staying in games, mostly due to their defense. Week 3 EJ looks terrible against the Jets where he was outplayed by Geno Smith. The Bills were never really out of it, but just couldn’t make plays and lost 27-20. The following week EJ bounces back to lead the Bills to a win against the Ravens 23-20. The Bills are winning against Cleveland until EJ is injured on what looked like a cheap shot as he was running out-of-bounds. EJ Misses four weeks with a knee injury. Thad Lewis goes 1-1 and is injured against the saints leading to Jeff Tuel starting against the undefeated Chiefs. EJ returns and is dominated by the Steelers. He has another bounce back game the next week and the Bills destroy Geno Smith’s Jets 37-14. The Bills have a bye and then play the Atlanta Falcons. A game they were winning and playing well, but end up losing 34-31 on a last second field goal. The next week the Bills are crushed by the Bucs 27-6. The Bills again rebound and beat the Jaguars 27-20. EJ injures his knee again and is done for the season.

E.J. Manuel takes a moment to celebrate with his father following Sunday's win over the Carolina - Photo via www.wnypapers.com

E.J. Manuel took a moment to celebrate with his father following that win over the Carolina in 2013 – Photo via http://www.wnypapers.com

EJ’s best games of 2013 were the Panthers and 2nd Jets game. All the other games were sub par performances with passing yards under 200 yards (or just over 200 with garbage time drives). EJ never had a dominant game as a rookie. To me he never looked ready for the starting gig. As most fans, I thought with 10 games under his belt and a full off-season, 2014 should be better. What we saw in 2014 was a little more accurate in training camp and a little more confidence under center. Unfortunately, those never really translated to games. EJ hasn’t made any plays this season to help the Bills win games. The first two weeks he helped by not making mistakes. The last two weeks when we needed the QB to make a play he couldn’t.

The question we have to ask ourselves is should we be seeing progress? EJ has no veteran QB to help him out. He wasn’t suppose to be starting day one. He’s never had the chance to just sit back to watch and learn. Kevin Kolb was a “starter” but had limited success. Would he really have been a good mentor? Kyle Orton’s been around and seen everything. He’s a middle of the road QB who could start, but for some reason never really got the chance. For two years Orton played well for the Broncos (2009 and 2010). He threw for 3500 yards and 20TDs and 10 INTS in back to back seasons. The team Struggled in 2011 and he was replaced by Tim Tebow after going 1-4. He was released in November and signed on with KC where he played out their last 4 games. The following year he signs on with Dallas and only plays in 4 games over two years. Orton and the cowboys have a falling out this past off-season and Orton opts to retire instead of reporting to camp. The Cowboys just release him and pay him the money they were fighting over and a few months later Orton signs with the Bills.

Here's hoping this isn't the last we will see of EJ! - Photo via host.madison.com

Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we will see of EJ! – Photo via host.madison.com

I think this is good for EJ. It’ll let him watch and learn from someone who’s been in the league a while. An opportunity he never got thus far. I’m by no means done with EJ. I think he can be successful, but maybe just needs a new system or new OC that can tailor the offense to his strengths. Read option is not his strength. Scrambling is not his strength. It took Alex Smith 7 years to find the right fit for him. Hopefully

By: Jason Sins

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