Aug 8, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone watches a replay during the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Buffalo defeated Carolina 20-18. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
After beating the Carolina Panthers 20-18, the Bills offense seems to be developing slowly but surely. While victory is always the primary focus, I cannot be comfortable with their performance. The Bills passing game is not where it should be. If things don’t click soon our passing woes could spell doom for the entire Bills offense.
EJ Manuel had his best performance this preseason against Carolina, going 9-13 for 96 yards with a passer rating of 90.7. While these are good statistics, the Buffalo Bills should be looking to get the most out of their passing game during the preseason. It’s hard to imagine the Bills coaching staff is concerned about the rushing attack of CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, and Anthony Dixon. Placing 2nd in the league in rushing after the 2013 season, the Bills have only upgraded the position, which creates higher expectations not growing concern.
If the Buffalo Bills offense is to succeed this year the Bills need to expand Manuel’s passing ability. Open the playbook and give him the keys, let him take control. Manuel should be covering the entire passing tree each and every game. The talent is there so utilize it. If he fails, let him. The only way you learn is through failure. The worst thing you can do to a young quarterback is not criticize him because at the end of the day fans will criticize Manuel. Analysts will criticize the Bills offense. And it will not end well. Not for Manuel’s confidence and definitely not for Doug Marrone and company.
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In 2011, the Buffalo Bills started the season 5-2. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction until after their bye week, the Buffalo Bills went 1-8. When you look at the scores during this long losing streak, five out of the eight games Buffalo lost were by a deficit of at least 20 points. What was their Achilles’ Heel? The reliance on the run game to open up a non-existent passing game. This is the exact route Buffalo could follow now if they do not address Manuel’s development as a quarterback. Manuel says all the right things, Nathaniel Hackett is happy with his development, but the play on the field speaks for itself. The Buffalo Bills offense is not where it needs to be if they’re goal is to make the playoffs. This high school approach to the offense will not work. Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez went through a similar situation. I don’t want to see Manuel turn into Mark Sanchez. I understand his confidence needs to grow but developing a quarterback who you don’t treat as an NFL quarterback can have dire consequences for the Buffalo Bills offense.
Maybe I’m speaking out too early. The preseason is just under way and there are a few weeks left until the season starts. Obviously Manuel is a better quarterback prospect than Sanchez so how could I compare the two? Don’t forget the Bills were playing one of the best front seven in the league against Carolina. However, what I do know is this; I thought I would see more production from the Buffalo Bills offense than I have seen in the past two weeks. As a fan of EJ Manuel I feel that Manuel has the skill set to succeed but success won’t just fall into his lap.