Sep 14, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) passes under pressure by Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick (98) during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The best team in the AFC East resides in Buffalo.
Just look at the standings – the Bills are 2-0 and in sole possession of first place. They are one of the lead stories of the season to date with impressive wins over Chicago and Miami. There are fans starting to think 2014 could be the year the team finally ends the playoff drought.
It’s easy to get drunk on talk of meaningful football in January, but I’m not there yet. A big win against the San Diego Chargers (who just beat the defending NFL champs) would sure go along way in convincing me. They’ll be 3-0 overall, 2-0 in the conference and 1-0 in the division with a number of winnable games on the schedule.
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If beggars can be choosers though, I want the Bills win to feel different than the first two. Several NFL minds have talked about how the team seems to have a formula for victory: Play great defense, run the ball well and ask EJ to make a few big throws. They rushed 33 times to 22 EJ passes against the Bears… a week later they rushed 33 times to 26 EJ passes.
That’s fine. That’s great. Every team has to have a plan for how they’ll win if everything goes their way. But, football is not a game that sticks to a script. Punts get blocked, balls get fumbled, defenders slip for no reason some times…
It will tough for me to truly envision this team winning big games in December, January and February until I see things go way off script and Manuel find a way to overcome. I recognize it’s never going to be ideal for him to throw 40 times a game, but I need to know he could do it now and again if all heck breaks loose.
The great teams over the past decade have game plans and formulas for winning, but they also have those wild card QBs. The Mannings, Brady, Roethlisberger – they can find a way even when the game plan goes way off track.
Trust me, I’ve got nothing but love for an equation that keeps the Bills winning. But I need to see Manuel do something special. I need him to make me say wow. I want to hear Doug Marrone tell me the Chargers scored early and really pushed the Bills out of what they wanted to do… and then Manuel took over.
Three and oh will sound good either way after today, but if Manuel finds an impressive way to get the Bills there he can turbocharge Bills pandemonium.