Buffalo Bills, Manuel Come Up Empty in London


After what was supposedly a good week of practice for the back-up quarterback, almost nothing went right in an embarrassing loss to Jacksonville. All of Manuel’s weaknesses were on display early Sunday morning, especially in the second quarter. Hindsight is 20/20, but it sure looks like a mistake opting to keep Manuel rather than Matt Cassel.

The Buffalo Bills better hope Tyrod Taylor stays healthy the rest of the year, because Manuel is simply not good enough to win football games in this league. Jacksonville was not doing anything fancy against Manuel, and still he looked lost when reading defenses. Against a routine zone coverage where the linebacker, in this case Telvin Smith, was getting to his hook zone while reading Manuel’s eyes, Manuel stared down his receiver without sensing the linebacker at all. It ended up being an easy interception for Smith, which he returned for a touchdown. Obviously Manuel still has not figured out how to read defenses and make good decisions, despite this being his third year in the league.

Another one of the known weaknesses for Manuel is his accuracy, and it was evident on Sunday morning that he has not corrected that either. There are plays were Manuel makes beautiful throws into tight windows, but far too many times he misses wide open receivers. On a simple ten yard hook route run well by Robert Woods, Manuel displayed terrible footwork in a decent pocket and threw the ball into the ground three yards short of the wide open receiver. His lack of short ball accuracy was again on display later in the game when he missed LeSean McCoy with plenty of open space ahead on a simple bubble route to the outside. Both of these throws should be routine for NFL quarterbacks.

Pocket presence has never been a strength for the Buffalo signal caller, and it certainly showed today. Overall the Bills offensive line did a pretty good job protecting Manuel, however he still was sacked four times. On one such occasion Manuel stood in the pocket for six seconds, more then enough time,  and never got rid of the ball leading to a sack. On another occasion the Jaguars brought pressure off the edge, which Manuel should have seen but did not leading to another easy sack. It seemed again like Manuel was hesitant to trust his eyes and his receivers.

Despite the second quarter where Manuel basically gave the Jaguars 21 points, the Bills still had plenty of chances to win this game. Sure other things went wrong such as the terrible pass interference call on Nickell Robey that gave Bortles a first down on the final Jaguars drive. Also some of the questionable play calling by Greg Roman didn’t help. However; the reason the Bills lost this game was E.J. Manuel.