Fans are hoping E.J. Manuel is the answer to the musical chairs game the Buffalo Bills have been playing for over a decade.
The debut for the first quarterback taken in the 2013 National Football League (NFL) Draft showed flashes of promise, and some expected mistakes in what some felt was a conservative offensive game-plan against the New England Patriots.
However, the rookie disagreed with reporters about the Bills “slow game plan” at a press conference on Wednesday.
“No I don’t feel that way. That was our game plan going into it based off what we saw and all the film we studied,” Manuel said. “So that was the game plan Coach Hackett (offensive co-ordinator) installed.”
Manuel finished the game completing 18 of his 27 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and also rushed for 23 yards on three carries.
Buffalo had its chances to close out the Patriots late, but a couple failed third down conversions gave New England the chances they needed to edge out a two-point victory.
Coach Doug Marrone praised Manuel for a few big plays he made against the Patriots, but also noted that there are a lot of little things to work on as well.
“I think at the end of the day, with the team and myself, I think the quarterback is going to be judged on winning,” Marrone said at the conference.
Manuel also mentioned those ‘little things,’ including some missed reads and a pass to Stevie Johnson that was a couple yards off, which Johnson dropped, that stalled a crucial fourth quarter drive.
“Once you see them on film you want to clean them up,” Manuel said.
“It’s a lot easier on film, you got the clicker in your hand, there is no pressure on you and you see, I should have done this, but in the flow of the game sometimes it doesn’t always happen. That’s what you have practice for, and we fixed those things yesterday.”
The 23-year-old didn’t get a lot of reps in the pre-season because of minor knee surgery, but with an NFL game under his belt against an elite team, the Bills do have weapons for Manuel to work with if Nathaniel Hackett decides to open up the offence starting Sunday against Carolina.
Despite only rushing for 41 yards on 17 carries and fumbling early in the game, C.J. Spiller is still expected to have a breakout year. Fred Jackson provides a great compliment to Spiller in the backfield.
Johnson has proven to be a capable No. 1 receiver with three straight 1,000 yard campaigns, and signs point to T.J. Graham, the second year receiver out of North Carolina State coming into his own.
With a good amount of speed at the skill positions, Manuel believes the Bills’ offence will showcase that sooner rather than later.
“I think we have a very quick up-tempo offence as well, so we’ve just got to move on to this week. I guess if you guys think we were a little slow, I guess we got to speed it up,” Manuel said to reporters.
Asked how the Bills’ attack can compare to Chip Kelly’s fast paced offence the Eagles showed on Monday night against the Redskins, Manuel replied, “I think it’s very comparable. Both offences do the zone read, do the vertical routes and stuff.
“We just had a separate game plan for New England, and this week I think we’ll be out there using some speed.”