Despite being demoted to backup quarterback after the Bills week 4 loss to the Houston Texans, there are still many ways that EJ Manuel can help the Bills score points and win games. However, the million dollar question is whether Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will be creative and utilize the second year quarterback.
Since becoming the starting quarterback Kyle Orton has played well and the Bills have a 3-2 record in games that he has started. However, there is no denying that Kyle Orton is not the most athletic person in the world. He is a strict pocket passer with limited mobility. One of the areas where EJ Manuel succeeded was being able to make something out of nothing on a broken play due to poor line protection. EJ was also good at running bootlegs on play action plays, like his touchdown run against the Bears in Week 1.
What am I getting at? I think that there are game situations where the Bills can utilize Manuel. Sunday against the Chiefs the Bills had many opportunities where they could have inserted Manuel. One example is when the Bills had two 4th and 1 plays where they punted instead of going for it. Putting EJ in and letting him run a quarterback draw or sneak would have surely resulted in a first down.
Another example against the Chiefs was when the Bills had to settle for a field goal because they had a drive stall inside the five yard line. If the Bills had inserted EJ they could have run a similar play as the did in week 1 in Chicago and allowed EJ to try and score with his legs. You could even give EJ the option of throwing the ball if the defense read the play. If Manuel has progressed in practice as much as the Bills have said he has, than they should be willing to trust him to throw the ball in that situation.
Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has been under strict scrutiny all season long and for good reason. His play calling is often unimaginative, predictable, and conservative. If the Bills want to make the playoffs this year than it’s time to open up the playbook and have a little fun. The Bills need to start taking chances and getting creative on offense and it all starts with play calling.
Having a few set plays a game where you would insert EJ if the situation calls for it is not an outrageous idea. I’m not asking Hackett to reinvent the wheel. I’m asking him to be smart, to utilize weapons he has on his team, and to do whatever it take to win football game. Using EJ in a few short yardage or goal line plays is not asking much. It’s asking he do whatever it take to win the game.