Bypass Kolb and Insert Manuel

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The old adage of learning from the sidelines in the NFL has been displaced over the last five to ten years. Teams never wasted time with their high draft picks in other positions to learn on the sideline, so why did they do it for years with quarterbacks? There was a time and age when salaries were not in as high of demand and coaches could dictate a relative time span to insert a quarterback. The goal would be to progress enough with a veteran while the young quarterback learns his role and offense properly.

Advancement in college offenses has enabled quarterbacks to come in with playbook smarts to adapt to the game quickly. Sure coaches may have to tailor their game plan a bit more to five to ten secure safety net plays, but that’s expected. You do not want to overwhelm your rookie quarterback off the bat. The more and more success rookies have (Roethlisberger, Newton, Dalton, and last year’s crop) gives future draftees a little less worry.

I expect the Bills to give EJ Manuel his keys to the offense and let him start week one against New England. Many know the Bills new head coach, Doug Marrone, as the ex-Syracuse coach, before Syracuse though he had many years helping as an offensive coordinator with the Saints and other NFL teams. He has an NFL background and will have the Bills prepared to surprise some people.

At Syracuse the offense is what made Ryan Nassib a high valuable quarterback in last year’s draft. He matured as a four year player at Syracuse, but the offense Marrone and his Syracuse staff tailored for him made Syracuse all that much better. They also had a solid ground game that busted open defenses time after time. Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley were the two backs that ran the system to perfection last year. Marrone will aim for the same success and likely get it with CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.

A two back system as quality as the Bills have partnered with their boosted defense should dramatically lessen the burden on EJ Manuel. The offense will be predicated on simple throws from Manuel when needed. He also has the scrambling ability necessary to extend drives.
This Bills team for all the damage of turnovers they had with Ryan Fitzpatrick, still managed to perform decently and hang in games. Their defense should be even stronger this year and they will be able to steal a few surprise games.

Week one at New England may be one of those games.

Flashback to a year ago in the NFL and take a look at who won on the road in New England’s first home game of the season. That was the Arizona Cardinals, led by…….Kevin Kolb. Kolb went on to have a horrific rest of the season that all but ended his ties as an Arizona Cardinal. The key point is that you never have to have an All-Pro quarterback to win games in the NFL. Heck, the Cardinals did not even have a solid ground game.

The Bills have much to offer Manuel as a team, and he’ll grow with that nucleus of players the Bills have. I expect Manuel’s role to be a bit less but comparable to how the Vikings use Christian Ponder. Select throws and enough rollouts and scrambles to keep his mind free during the games. The Bills will let their backfield and defense decide the games for them in year one of EJ Manuel’s career as a Bill.


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