Manuel Just Might Be the Man

EJ Manuel on draft day. The former FSU QB holds his new jersey  of the Buffalo Bills.

EJ Manuel on draft day. The former FSU QB holds his new jersey of the Buffalo Bills.

BY:Jeff Schneberk@Game7overtime

The first time I ever heard about the Buffalo Bills, I was probably in Grade 8 or 9. Back when Jim Kelly was one of the biggest names in the game.
I don’t know if anybody cares about facts of this nature but in the NFL today there are 3 teams that are supposedly based out of New York State.
They are, in no particular order: the NY Jets, the NY Giants, and of course the Bills.

The Bills however are the only NFL team to play their game games within the boundaries of NY state. The Jets and Giants play in nearby East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Bills are also the lone NFL team to have played in and won 4 Conference championships in a row and play in 4 Super Bowls in a row. They are also the only NFL team in history to lose in all 4 of them.
The Bills also currently have the longest post-season drought in the entire league. Their last post-season appearance came in 1999 and they have not had a .500 or better season since 2004.
Buffalo’s worst loss in a Super Bowl would have been in XXV when you consider how close they had come to winning it, losing by one point the NY Giants, 20-19.

Their most recent appearance (1999) where they lost to Tennessee by a touchdown (without the extra point).
Part of the reason of the total embarrassment of this football comes from the fact they have no reliability at the most important position in the game: QB.
They turned some heads two weeks ago when they signed former University of Southern California QB and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart.

Was I the only one shocked when they released Leinart less than 1 week later?
Anyway, Leinart’s name still goes on the list, along with these names: Ryan Fitzpatrick (2009-12), Trent Edwards (09-10), JP Losman (05-08), Kelly Holcomb (05), one of the biggest names in the last century, Drew Bledsoe (02-04), Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie to round them out, going back to the last time the team qualified for the post season.

From 1986-96, the Bills were led by none other than Jim Kelly. Before that, who cares? Lol
There was some sort of saying around Buffalo and surrounding area, definitely including parts of Canada that cared, regarding the Bills: I love losing Super Bowls.

Now if we fast forward to 2013, as the league slowly gets set to start Week 3 and surprise surprise, the Bills are not the league’s worst team (on this particular week). That honour is saved for the Browns, Jags and the Raiders).
In fact Cleveland has just announced this morning that they plan to play their 3rd string QB this weekend against the Vikings. The good news for them? It’s only the Vikings. It probably won’t be that exciting anyhow.
Anyway, Buffalo heads into the weekend (Week 3) coming off a rather impressive win this past Sunday against Oakland, and that is a shocker in itself.
Oakland currently leads the league in rushing yards and I believe QB sacks. Most of it is due to competency at QB-Terrelle Pryor.
Obviously anyone who has actually been following Buffalo knows that this year’s team actually isn’t that bad, but they have tons of shit to prove.
They did manage a 2-1 start last year and even went 3-0 to start 2011, but went 0-8 to start 2010 and 1-5 to start 09

RANKINGS
None of ESPN’s six voters placed Buffalo lower than 26th overall in their weekly rankings and someone actually gave them 22 overall.
The Bills jumped up three spots in our weekly ESPN.com Power Rankings, two spots ahead of their Sunday opponent, the New York Jets. I’ve said the last two weeks the Bills were slightly underrated. Now I think they’ve hit it.
This weekend, perhaps the perfect opponent comes in the form of the Jets, one of the most messed-up franchises in the league as it stands right now. They have almost no certainty anywhere on the field. Their QB is the pro version of a freshman (Geno Smith) while their ‘normal’ QB (Mark Sanchez) is out with a foolish injury (foolish in the sense that it was triggered by a senseless move on the part of his idiot coach).

The only other thing kinda going for them is their 3rd stringer is Brady Quinn and nobody after this is ever is going to remember him from his days at Notre Dame where he torched 22 school records, unless he does something good now.
Anyways, this time around, Bills have yet another QB to add and see if somehow he can shake things up a bit. His name is EJ Manuel. He comes via the Entry Draft, the First Round, taken out of Florida State University.
Like any other wide-eyed kid out of college, he is supposed to have a few flaps especially during the first few weeks of the football season. He has definitely had some. But then again he also has his first win in Week 2.

In his second career start, EJ led his team on an 80-yard, game-winning drive with 0 timeouts remaining, giving Bills a fairly dramatic 24-23 win over a team with much, much more competence at the QB position, the Carolina Panthers. In fact, Carolina have 3 QBs that could be starters on almost any other team (Newton, Jimmy Clausen, and Derek Anderson….ok, maybe 2 QBs!).
Manuel’s showing will at least give the team some hope going into MetLife Stadium for Week 3 to play a Jets team that is already bent out a shape.
Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone has expressed concern over the rookie QB’s play, watching him turn the ball over twice in the Carolina game. Marrone says there is still plenty of work to be done. But everybody already knows that anyway.

According to various reports, the NY Jets’ defense will pose the toughest problem for a rookie like Manuel. He has to be on the lookout for the blitz. If Manuel gets no protection from his O-line, this could be a very long game for the boys wearing blue.
It would not be surprising if Jets’ Head Coach Rex Ryan worked up even more pressure to put on Manuel.
Even with the speed that the Bills have on the outside, I think the Jets will take their chances with Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner in man-to-man coverage and try to force Manuel to beat them using his arm. Manuel is not quite proven yet in the passing game, I guess.
He has been mediocre thus far when throwing down field. Up front, Manuel will have to keep an eye out for defensive end Mo Wilkerson.

The only other potential worry for Bills is that Week 3 will be the first time they bring their offense on the road. Supposedly it is thought to be an “up-tempo offense”. I personally fail to see what is so up-tempo about an offense that only scored 19 points against the Raiders and 21 at home against New England, but oh well, I hope we find out exactly what kind of offense this team has against NY Jets???
Bills are bringing their show to MetLife Stadium, the second-largest capacity stadium in the National Football League. It has wraparound seating, which means noise does not escape quite as easily as in other venues. This should prove to be a very good test of Manuel’s ability (or lack thereof) to manage the no-huddle offense facing what should be a very hostile crowd. If he can do it, I wouldn’t want to be a Jet. Last week, Manuel was praised for being able to keep his cool when his coach-t0-quarterback communication system broke down on the field.

Without looking too far down the Bills’ schedule, there is a date in Cleveland coming up in Week 5. The whole team could fall asleep in that one and still not lose it.
But in Week 3s meeting, as long as he keeps mistakes to a minimum, there is no reason that Bills couldn’t be on the upside in terms of their overall record.

They went 2-1 last year, no surprise after a trip to Cleveland resulted in Bills’ second straight win.

What could be a turning point in the fortunes of the Bills...

What could be a turning point in the fortunes of the Bills…

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2 comments

  1. Dave Firth Bard

    I agree that Week 3 is the perfect test for the Bills. In order to make it to the playoffs, you need to be able to handle your division rivals on the road. The away date with the Jets is always a good way to gauge Buffalo’s progress, since New England always sweeps them and they frequently split 1-1 with the Dolphins. If the Bills can’t make a strong showing and pick up the ‘W’ in the Meadowlands against a Jets franchise that really seems to be in disarray, it will signal that Buffalo’s team of young players still has a long road ahead of them. If they do win, it could be a big boost going into what I consider another challenging but beatable matchup at home against Baltimore.

    Like

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