Saturday, May 31, 2014

EJ Manuel to Decide Fate for Buffalo Bills in 2014

Zennie Abraham via Flickr
It was only a year ago the Bills shocked fans and the NFL by taking EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick. For the most part it was considered a reach but the Bills desperately needed a franchise quarterback and of any quarterback in the 2013 draft, Manuel had all the physical tools to develop into a franchise quarterback.

Following the draft, Manuel got off to a quick start in the preseason leading the Bills to a meaningless preseason victory against the Colts but Manuel's talent was on full display following a game winning drive. However, after the game Manuel suffered his first of three injuries that basically ruined his and the Bills season.

Despite the injury issues, he had what many considered to be they typical season for any rookie quarterback. He wasn't Andrew Luck but he also wasn't as bad as Geno Smith.

On stats alone, Manuel had over 2000 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Not to mention, against the Bucs in week 16 Manuel had four interceptions which makes his stats look much worse, but it was just one horrible game.

Year GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate
2013 10 4-6-0 180 306 58.8 1972 11 9 77.7
Career 10 4-6-0 180 306 58.8 1972 11 9 77.7
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/8/2014.
Rushing
G Att Yds TD Lng Y/A Y/G A/G
10 53 186 2 19 3.5 18.6 5.3
10 53 186 2 19 3.5 18.6 5.3
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/8/2014.

Sure, Manuel's poor play and injuries could be blamed for the Bills losing season but it all can't be put on his shoulders. The offensive line was horrible, allowing 48 sacks, and C.J. Spiller spent the season hobbling around on one leg.

In addition, his receivers, mainly Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler, had their fair share of game deciding drops. Not to mention mainly all of the top Bills receivers dealt with injuries.

Not to mention, everything about the 2013 Bills were new. New coaches and a new quarterback put everything at square.

Regardless, 2013 is behind the Bills and 2014 brings much needed change. Despite the loss of Jairius Byrd, the additions of Brandon Spikes, Corey Graham and Keith Rivers bolster a horrendous run-stopping defense.

The defensive additions will help take pressure off the offense but the spotlight will be on the additions of new receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. Watkins instantly becomes the most dynamic option for Manuel and the pressure will be on him to get the ball in his hands. Watkins made most of his damage on yards after the catch at Clemson and all Manuel has to do is get him the ball and watch him go. Sadly, if anyone watched any Bills games last year, their screen game was horrible.

The one thing the Bills lack is a big receiver and that is what Mike Williams can be for EJ Manuel.  Yeah, he is only 6'2 but taking a look at his tape he plays bigger, whereas Stevie Johnson who was also 6'2 played much smaller than his size. Talent aside, Williams has a checkered past and one slip up could result in a suspension or force Doug Marrone to slide him down the depth chart.

While Watkins and Williams are huge additions, the sleeper stud for the Bills could be Robert Woods. Woods and Manuel came to the Bills as rookies in 2013 and chances are he is the receiver Manuel has built most chemistry with. Woods is a lot like Stevie Johnson and could fill the slot in this offense acting as Manuel's security blanket.

Reports from Bills OTA's has been mostly positive for Manuel but the only thing that can not happen this season is another injury. The offensive line, receivers and running backs have all been improved just to support EJ Manuel, he has to do the rest.

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