The Buffalo Bills weren’t good enough to make the playoffs last year, and they’re no closer to getting there this year. They keep getting marginally better - barely keeping their head above water, really - and the rest of their division keeps making moves. For that reason and oh so many more, they can not let E.J. Manuel start in his first season in the NFL.
I’m no fan of the Bills selection of Manuel with the 15th overall pick. Calling it a reach doesn’t even do justice to the word and there’s no convincing me (and almost everyone else for that matter) that he had any business being the first quarterback selected in this year’s draft. The third quarterback maybe or maybe the fourth ideally, but by no stretch of the imagination the first.
Value and pre-draft rankings aside, even the most optimistic scouts felt Manuel was a project. All the physical tools are there, more or less - he just needs some time behind a savvy veteran quarterback to polish his technique up a bit. What he has in physical ability, he lacks in mental aptitude - to this point. Great physical tools, solid but far from perfect fundamentals and a developing football mind... These marks are not the ones of a week 1 starter.
In ending what is surely coming off as a hate parade on my part, at the expense of Manuel, I must let it be known I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see him have a successful career in the NFL. The likelihood of this happening, however, is significantly decreased if he gets thrown to the wolves in his rookie year. Worst of all, if all he has to do is beat out Kevin Kolb and - for journalistic integrity’s sake, I probably should mention - Tarvaris Jackson for the job, to these wolves his career could likely be thrown.
Assuming Marrone’s not half as crazy as his first draft would indicate, Manuel is miles ahead of Kolb and, well, lightyears ahead of Jackson. Fine, that’s just great; still doesn’t make the Bills a contender.
So in keeping with reality, the Bills haven’t a hope in hell of making the playoffs. This much we know. The Dolphins and Jets both got considerably better this offseason and the Patriots are the Patriots; good luck coming out of that division. What benefit, if any, is there to letting Manuel’s confidence get beaten like a rented mule week after week for the sake of his gaining the “experience”? What good will these experiences do for Manuel if the vast majority of them are negative?
A lot can be said for patience in the NFL. It’s gotten the Seahawks and Niners to the top of power rankings nation wide and has played a key part in the rebuilding of several other successful franchises. More importantly, you can see the effect a lack of patience has had on even more. I’m looking at you Jacksonville, Arizona and Oakland - to name a few. If a little of this golden word (patience) is exerted on Manuel, the Bills might have a chance at adding Buffalo to the list of successful rebuilds and Marrone’s name to the list of unconventional geniuses. Best of luck otherwise.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV