by Dana Fesjian
Every week after the Bills lose I always think, “If they just win every game from now on they can still make it to the playoffs.” Eventually, I start losing hope, but that hasn’t happened yet! They can still make it to the playoffs if they win every game from now on. They’ll be 10 and 6. That works. We just have to make sure the Patriots and the Jets stop winning. Good luck. OH, and one more thing, we may need a quarterback to play and not get injured for the next seven weeks. Again, good luck.
O Come, O Come EJ Manuel
After last year’s draft I was ecstatic that we (I consider myself a part of this team, true fan.) got EJ Manuel, finally a quarterback that could have some star power – no offense Ryan Fitzpatrick or Trent Edwards. Manuel had been playing great in the first 4 games and even though there was definitely room for improvement, the Bills were 2-2 and still in contention with the rest of the AFC East.
During a week 1 loss against the Patriots, Manuel completed 18 for 27 with 150 yards and 1 TD. In week 2 versus the Panthers he had many more snaps and completed 27 for 39 with 296 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Plus, the Bills won! Week 3 versus the Jets was similar to week 2, but Manuel made fewer completions. He went 19 for 42 with 243 yards and 1 TD. Manuel did not play as well in week 4 versus the Ravens and they relied more on CJ Spiller and the running game. He only completed 10 for 22 attempts with 167 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs.
In week 5 Manuel was on the track for having his strongest game of the season. But, as I watched Manuel carry that ball down the field on October 3rd’s game versus the Browns, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. He should have slid or gone out of bounds sooner! I was yelling at the television and then when he got hit and didn’t come up I was furious. He should have known better than to do something so ambitious. So that was a nice good bye to EJ for 4 to 6 weeks with a sprained LCL in his knee. He left the game in the third quarter having completed 11 for 20 with 129 yards.
Then came the rush to get someone else competent enough to try to lead the Bills to a win. What interests me is that they already had two other quarterbacks on the roster: Jeff Tuel, another rookie, and Thad Lewis who they acquired in a trade in August with the Detroit Lions. It’s like Head Coach Doug Marrone knew that they were going to end up with everyone injured.
They ended up signing Matt Flynn who was recently released by Oakland to be the backup quarterback.
So we had EJ Manuel starting the first 5 games until his catastrophic knee injury. Then, we had Thad Lewis playing the next 3 games until he hurt his ribs versus the Saints last week. Thank you Doug Marrone for being prepared with two more semi-mediocre quarterbacks ready to compete for the starting QB spot for this week versus the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs: Jeff Tuel and Matt Flynn. Based on game experience, Matt Flynn would have gone in with two games under his belt. Tuel had only played versus the Browns when he replaced Manuel. However, Tuel did get more reps this week and has been with the team since May, so it makes sense that he was the chosen one to start for the Bills this week.
But now they released Matt Flynn! What!? After it came out that EJ Manuel was cleared to play it was good-bye to the fourth back up and hello to new fullback Juan Rodriguez to the 53-man roster.
Consider The QB
Comparing Thad Lewis’s stats for his 3 starts with EJ Manuel’s stats for his 5 starts, they seem to be very similar, so I can see why Marrone chose to have Thad Lewis start the games after Manuel got injured. In his 3 games Lewis managed 652 passing yards and 3 TDs. Manuel had 985 passing yards and 5 TDs in 5 games. Those numbers are very comparable, so Marrone was definitely happy with his decision to have Lewis replace Manuel. However, once Lewis got injured, he had to choose whether to play Matt Flynn or Jeff Tuel. I think he saw Tuel as more of a permanent back up for the Bills so that’s why he played him. Tuel ended up also having comparable stats to Lewis and Manuel for the one game he started. He had 229 yards, which is more than what Manuel had in half of the games he started.
Each of the Bills’s quarterbacks has a very low Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) however. It’s very disappointing that even EJ Manuel only has a QBR of 42.2. Jeff Tuel’s QBR is just embarrassing with 9.6 and Thad Lewis’s is just mediocre at 19.1. One of these quarterbacks needs to step up their game.
Hopefully, by this Sunday, the question of who is going to be the quarterback leading the Bills to victory will be answered. We still have Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel as backups, but EJ Manuel is ready to get back in there and play, so I hope Doug Marrone makes the right decision. Hey, they can still make it to the playoffs if they win the rest of their games.