QB EJ Manuel, Oakland Raiders
HT: 6-5, WT: 237, Born: 3-19-1990, College: Florida State, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 16
|Outlook • Career Statistics • Game Logs • Split Stats • Play-by-play • Latest News|
Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: EJ Manuel (202), O Beckham Jr (204)
Position: J Manziel (161-QB23), J McCown (171-QB24), EJ Manuel (202 - QB25), J Locker (207-QB26), T Bridgewater (219-QB27)
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Last year was every bit as rough as some predicted it would be for EJ Manuel as he had to deal with injury on top of the difficulty he had getting used to an NFL playbook. According to the Buffalo News, Head coach Doug Marrone feels he is much more acclimated to the offense and with new weapons in Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams joining Marqiuse Goodwin and Robert Woods, there are no more excuses. Even if he takes the leap forward that the Bills are praying for, Manuel is a backup quarterback for fantasy purposes. He has upside to be more, but there is too much risk at this early point to expect more.
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|1||at New York Jets|
|3||at New England Patriots|
|6||San Diego Chargers|
|8||at Cleveland Browns|
|9||at Seattle Seahawks|
|11||at San Diego Chargers|
|12||Kansas City Chiefs|
|13||at St. Louis Rams|
|14||San Francisco 49ers|
|15||at Kansas City Chiefs|
|17||at Denver Broncos|
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - For a rookie starting his first game in the NFL, Manuel looked anything but on Sunday. Ignore the numbers for a second (they weren’t great) and consider what the rookie did in his 1st overall start. Despite a fumble on the Bills 2nd play of the game, an early 10-point deficit and some bad drops from his receivers; Manuel never looked overwhelmed or frustrated. Some rust was expected after missing the 2nd half of the preseason and while the team certainly exhibited some, Manuel did not. Manuel had to wait until the 2nd drive of the game to get his first NFL completion, faking the hand off to CJ Spiller before rolling right and finding TE Scott Chandler in the flat for nine yards. Two plays later, Manuel hit Stevie Johnson on a short crosser for 12 yards. The former Seminole QB nearly threw his first interception on his next pass. Trying to hit Robert Woods streaking down the sideline, Manuel forced the throw and Alfonzo Denard made a great defensive play and just missed the INT as he was unable to maintain control after contacting the ground. Manuel didn’t let the near-mistake curtail him, however, as his first throw on the next drive was a 19-yard laser to Woods on a deep crosser. Unfortunately, a penalty killed the play and ultimately the drive as Buffalo was forced to punt three plays later. Two drives later and Manuel still looked sharp; opening the Bills 5th drive will a beautiful touch pass over the defense to TE Scott Chandler. Chandler didn’t do his part, though, as the ball clanked off his hands and fell incomplete. Chandler made amends two drives later, as Manuel threw a strike down the seam to his TE for a 19-yard gain. Manuel went right back to the air the following play, taking advantage of what appeared to be a breakdown in coverage and threw his first TD in the NFL on the 18-yard completion to Woods. The first drive out of halftime was Manuel’s (and the Bills) best on Sunday, by far. After opening with five straight runs before Manuel had his first chance to drop back to pass. With nothing there, Manuel seeped out of the pocket and scrambled for 19 yards. Two more runs before Manuel threw a strike to Fred Jackson on an arrow route on 3rd down for 11 yards and a 1st down. Supposedly one to struggle with downfield accuracy, Manuel dropped his next throw “in the bucket” for his 2nd TD pass of the game. Johnson split the coverage as he worked into the end zone. Manuel threw the ball early, putting the perfect amount of touch and air on the throw and Johnson was able to run underneath it for the 18-yard TD catch. It really was a thing of beauty and had Ralph Wilson Stadium rocking as Buffalo took their 1st lead of the game. The following drive looked promising too, as Manuel hit Jackson out of the backfield for a 14-yard gain. Two plays later, on 3rd down, Manuel hit Jackson again on a swing pass for a first down. But as Buffalo had done so many times already, they shot themselves in the foot with a penalty on the play and killed the drive. The QB missed on his next two throws spanning two drives before hitting Chandler over the middle for six yards. Facing a 3rd and two, the offense was facing the game’s biggest play and again Manuel was let down by his receivers despite delivering the ball where he needed to. Johnson ran a quick out and Manuel hit the WR on the hands, but Johnson couldn’t make the catch and Buffalo was forced to punt. Not Manuel’s best throw of the game, it was still a catch Johnson has to make if Buffalo is going to take that next step as a team. The Bills had to punt on the drive and went three and out on their final drive with the lead, leaving the door wide open for Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Bills would ultimately lose the game, but fans have to be excited about what they saw from Manuel. A few too many checkdowns, perhaps, but leaps and bounds better than the mistakes the fans are accustomed to. Manuel looked poised in the pocket, keeping the offense composed despite the mistakes (turnovers, drops and penalties) and giving the team a very real shot to win the game.
Week 2 - What a difference a year makes. The Bills and their fans had seen this scenario before. Their beloved Bills trailing, but within one score and the chance to right a whole days worth of wrongs with one final drive. Facing a whole new set of obstacles, including his first two turnovers as a pro on consecutive possessions; Manuel passed another test with soaring marks winning his first game as a Buffalo Bill. Play action was very successful in Week 1 and Manuel wasted no time getting back to the fake; opening the game with a 34-yard pass to wide open fullback Frank Summers in the flat after faking to CJ Spiller. Manuel didn’t look as comfortable throwing the ball early Week 2, however, as he missed badly on two of his next three throws. After missing an open Stevie Johnson over the middle, Manuel took advantage of sagging coverage with a quick shot to Robert Woods for six yards. As Manuel tried to go back down the field on his next throw, he threw high and behind TE Scott Chandler on what should have been a TD pass. Still a little off, Manuel missed Woods on another overthrow down the field on his next pass. The offense was finally able to put some points on the board on the team’s 3rd drive, as Manuel used a quick passing game to get into FG range. After a quick dump to Spiller in the flat for seven yards on 3rd down, Manuel threw a dart to Johnson as he ran free down the seam for 19 yards. Three consecutive throws didn’t result in much, though, as Manuel missed Chandler again before two safe throws to Jackson had the FG team coming on for the 2nd time in 3 drives. Two drives later Manuel showed some spectacular elusiveness in the pocket as he literally ducked an approaching Panther before scrambling right and hitting Woods down the sideline for a 19-yard gain. Most impressive about the play, however, was how Manuel kept his eyes down the field throughout the pressure and refused to turn the play into a minimal gain via a scramble. Manuel just missed throwing his first INT on the following play as he badly underthrew TJ Graham (who had beaten the coverage). Manuel opened the 2nd half just as he did in the 1st, with a dump to Summers in the flat and the FB picked up 15 yards on the toss. Two plays later, Manuel went back to fellow rookie Woods on consecutive throws, the latter of which may have been his best throw down the field on Sunday. Woods ran a deep dig and Manuel threw a dart, picking up 28 yards on the play. The Bills finally found the end zone on the next drive after Manuel opened with another play fake and dropped the ball off to Chandler as he leaked off the line of scrimmage. After hitting Johnson on a quick hitch for nine yards, the two connected again for the longest pass play of the game. Recognizing a huge mismatch with LB Jon Beason trying to cover Johnson in the slot, Manuel threw a strike on the slant and all Johnson had to do was run from Beason. The play went for 45 yards and the Bills were in the end zone the next play. Manuel connected with Woods on the two-point conversion with the WR making a tremendous diving catch on the low throw. The next two possessions went about as bad as they could for the young QB as he committed his first fumble and threw his first INT in a matter of three plays. Manuel did a poor job acknowledging the pressure from Quintin Mikell as he burst through the line and Mikell was able to knock the ball loose as Manuel cocked to throw. Perhaps a little frustrated from the fumble, Manuel made a terrible decision on the next drive. Graham was in the slot and curled up five yards off the line of scrimmage, but had a defender on each hip. Manuel tried to force the throw in and Luke Kuechly made a nice play intercepting the pass. Manuel had Johnson open on the outside in single coverage, but he never looked beyond Graham. Despite the two turnovers, Manuel more than made up for it two drives later. Down six and without any timeouts, Manuel showed that same calm and poise he did in Week 1 on the final drive. First a quick out to Johnson for seven yards, Manuel hit Spiller and Jackson on consecutive short dumps over the middle for 12 and 14 yards, respectively. Manuel showed off his athleticism two plays later, narrowly avoiding a sack while maintaining his balance and turning what would have been a devastating play into a short gain. A pass interference penalty wiped away an INT on the next play and set the offense up on inside the Carolina 15 yard-line. Manuel scrambled for nine yards before crashing out of bounds with: 06 seconds on the clock. The offense followed Manuel’s cool lead, really making the game winning TD look incredibly easy. With pressure coming in Manuel’s face, he flicked his wrist and hit the wide-open Johnson in the corner of the end zone for the game winning TD. Pandemonium ensued and a star was born in Western New York. Manuel was inconsistent on Sunday, frustratingly so at times, but ultimately took another step towards becoming the franchise QB the Bills so desperately need.
Week 3 - What a difference a week makes. After “rocking the Ralph” in Week 2 with a dramatic game winning drive against the Panthers, Manuel was absolutely befuddled by the New York defense. Manuel opened the game with three straight incompletions and after completing a one-yard quick out to CJ Spiller, it was two more drives before Manuel completed another pass. After a scramble to open the team’s 5th drive, Manuel finally connected with a dragging and uncovered Robert Woods on a nice touch pass for 29 yards. The struggles continued, however, two plays later as Manuel dropped back to pass on 4th down but didn’t handle the pressure well and eventually took a sack. The next drive opened as the previous one closed, with Manuel taking a sack. While he was able to complete his next two throws, Manuel clearly played it safe and the Bills were punting after three plays. The 2nd half looked very much like the 1st as Manuel struggled mightily with his consistency, completing two short throws but missing the important one on 3rd down. Stevie Johnson ran a quick out at the marker, but the throw sailed wide and Johnson couldn’t make the catch. Manuel dropped back to open the next drive, but as was the case too frequently, he was sacked. Fred Jackson ran a wheel route on 2nd down and Manuel made a nice throw to pick up 17 yards. Finally the Bills used Manuel’s feet to their advantage as they ran a naked boot on 3rd and 1, with Manuel picking up 19 yards on the run. As he has done all season, Manuel underthrew an open TJ Graham down the sideline but was saved by a pass interference call. Manuel missed on his next two throws, forcing the Bills into a FG try. After getting tremendous field position to open the next drive, Manuel and Johnson just missed connecting on what more than likely would have been a TD. Johnson got inside the coverage on a quick slant, but Manuel’s throw was redirected by LB DeMario Davis just before it reached the WR and it fell harmlessly incomplete forcing the offense to settle for their fourth FG try. The next drive opened with what was probably one of Manuel’s better throws of the game on a 23-yard connection to Johnson. Johnson ran a little out and up and Manuel put perfect touch on the throw allowing Johnson to run beneath it. It appeared Manuel tried this same touch throw on multiple occasions, whether by design or skittishness, but this was his only completion. The following play Manuel was sacked again as he stepped up in the pocket, but struggled to reset himself for the throw. These same struggles, with resetting, were evident throughout the game and one of the main reasons Manuel struggled with the pressure all evening. The Jets brought constant heat and when Manuel wasn’t getting rid of the ball, he was caught trying to get into a position to throw and often it resulted in a sack. A bad drop by Graham kicked off the following drive, but numerous mental breakdowns by CB Kyle Wilson had the Bills moving down the field. Manuel threw a poor pass to a slanting Johnson, but he made a nice diving catch to pick up 14 yards. Two plays Manuel went back to Johnson for 14 yards on a hitch, throwing a nice ball just over the reach of zone defender. After hitting Scott Chandler over the middle for nine yards, Manuel went right back to his TE for the Bills lone TD of the day. Chandler was able to work behind the coverage and was left uncovered as the two ultimately connected for the 33-yard touchdown. Manuel went back to his favorite target in Johnson on the two-point conversion; throwing a nice dart in the back of the end zone to tie the game. Unlike the first two weeks Manuel couldn’t build on the TD drive as he completed only five more passes over the next four drives and the Bills never threatened again. After looking decisive and comfortable to open the season, Manuel couldn’t have looked more the opposite with each dropback. His decisions were always one extreme or the other. Too quick (when he recognized the pressure) resulting in countless spot throws that sailed out of bounds. Or, too delayed (when he didn’t recognize the pressure) resulting in eight sacks and numerous other pressures. Manuel looked lost at times, skittish at others and nothing like the quarterback from the first two games of the season.
Week 4 - With the Bills placing a heavy emphasis on establishing their rushing attack from the outset, EJ Manuel was quiet early on as he efficiently ran Doug Marrone's up-tempo offense, gassing the Ravens. As Baltimore began to stack the line of scrimmage in an effort to stymie the Bills' ground game, opportunities presented themselves for Manuel. The rookie's lone touchdown pass came off a beautifully executed sleight of hand play fake as Manuel drove the football between the hashes to a streaking Robert Woods. The single high safety, responsible for deep third coverage, bit hard on an underneath crossing pattern. With Woods getting inside the cornerback covering him, Manuel dropped it perfectly into Woods' arms, displaying great touch and velocity. Manuel could have added a second touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson, who was wide open after a double move, but an onrushing defender forced Manuel to release the football quicker than he would have liked, and the pass fell harmlessly incomplete. Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett hadn't utilised the read option too often in the first three weeks, but there were several called runs for Manuel against Baltimore. The coaching staff will surely not be happy, however, with Manuel's awkward slides. In the third quarter, Manuel floated a perfect pass to the back corner of the end zone for Woods, who bobbled the ball and failed to gain control and get two feet down; after being called a touchdown, the decision was reversed on replay. Regardless, Manuel's ball placement and touch were immaculate. Despite all the positives for Manuel, there were arguably as many negatives. The first of Manuel's two interceptions came on a tipped pass as he attempted to zip a five-yard pass into Stevie Johnson. The receiver allowed the ball to hit his hands, and it flew into the air for a grateful Daryl Smith to pick off, so the blame rests more with Johnson. The second interception was on Manuel; failing to set his feet on an ambitious deep ball down the middle of the field, the pass was underthrown and the cornerback in coverage had only to turn around and allow the ball to come to him. Manuel showed good poise and accuracy throughout, but it is clear the Bills are not ready to 'unleash' him yet as a passer.
Week 5 - A true shepherd’s pie on Thursday night for Manuel; as it was a little growth mixed with some regressive tendencies and finished off with a huge heap of dumb. Not getting to air it out until the 2nd drive, Manuel opened the drive with throws on four of the first five plays. After a safe throw to Scott Chandler on 1st down for five yards, Manuel got a little lucky on his next completion. Stevie Johnson flashed across the middle on a shallow crosser and Manuel’s throw was off target as Johnson could only get a hand out to deflect it. The ball caromed a second time off a defender before Chandler made a circus catch and turned the tip drill into a 20-yard gain. Manuel completed two of his next three throws, all to Johnson with the latter a nice 13-yard strike on a quick slant. The drive stalled, however, as Manuel booted off play action on the very next play and was hit immediately coming out of the roll. The offense sputtered over the next five drives as Manuel only completed four of his next nine throws and only one for more than 10 yards. It didn’t help that Manuel’s favorite target, Johnson, was forced out of the game with a back injury. After posting 10 points on the first two drives, Manuel and the offense didn’t score again the rest of the half. Manuel opened the 2nd half with his longest completion of the game, a nice back shoulder zip to Robert Woods for 24 yards. Manuel looked to continue that momentum the following drive as he opened with a 13-yard completion to Woods. Unfortunately the downfall was coming as Manuel inexplicably took two brutal hits, the latter of which ended his night. Facing a 2nd and long, Manuel was forced outside and looked to scramble but was chopped down by Buster Skrine’s helmet to his thigh. Learning nothing, Manuel again was forced out of the pocket on the next play. Using a nice block from Fred Jackson to reach the marker, Manuel inexplicably stayed in bounds as DB Tashaun Gipson was bearing down. Gipson went low and delivered a RGIII vs Ngata type shot to Manuel’s leg. Clearly in pain, Manuel eventually walked off the field under his own power, but it wasn’t long before he disappeared into the locker room never to return. It truly baffling and just plain dumb decision by Manuel; the Bills never recovered in what as a very winnable game.
Week 10 - There’s rusty after a four-game layoff and then there’s whatever Manuel was on Sunday in Pittsburgh. With only two completions, and neither over five yards, in the first three drives, Manuel’s early rust was evident. Throwing from the goal line on the first possession, the rookie rushed a fade to Stevie Johnson and badly overthrew him. Had Manuel been more patient, Johnson would have had a great chance to score, as he broke free of the coverage at the line of scrimmage. Reassuring that Manuel made the correct read of single coverage, but the throw needed to be much better. Manuel’s rust continued to show the following drive, as his lone throw of the drive was well behind Johnson and his WR was forced to make a play on the ball merely to break up a potential INT. Another three and out followed, with Manuel again struggling as he threw well wide of Johnson on a short pass on 3rd down that should have resulted in an easy 1st down. The former Seminole appeared to find some rhythm on the fourth drive, connecting with Johnson for 23 yards (the Bills longest play on the day) on a short toss. Two plays later Manuel booted right off play action and delivered a very catchable ball to TE Chris Gragg in the flat, but the rookie dropped the easy throw. The drive stalled with two more incompletions and Manuel struggled to get much else going the rest of the half. Normally one to pick up his play out of halftime, Manuel only looked more befuddled and skittish on the Bills first drive of the 2nd half. After a quick completion to Marquise Goodwin for seven yards to move the chains, Manuel was late trying to hit Johnson on a curl and almost turned the ball over with an INT. Dropping back to throw two plays later, Manuel was hit with a horrible case of happy feet, never settled and by the time he finally made the decision to escape the pocket he ran into a brutal shot from Lawrence Timmons to force a punt. Manuel opened the following drive with his best throw, hitting Johnson on a quick hitter off play action for 20 yards, but again the drive stalled with some questionable play-calling and an incompletion. Facing a 3rd and one, Manuel threw an quick out to Goodwin, but the throw was just a bit wide and the WR was unable to make the diving catch. Spanning the next two drives, Manuel missed on all three of his throws including another curious decision to pass on 3rd and very short that had Manuel rushing another pass to Johnson where the WR had no time to work his route and get downfield. Just like the other rushed throw, the ball sailed well over Johnson and had no chance of being completed. Adding injury to insult, Manuel lost his favorite target on the day, as Johnson appeared to tweak his groin on the incompletion. Manuel finally completed a pass two drives later, but unfortunately it was to Steeler DB Ryan Clark. The QB maneuvered well to avoid the edge rushers and stepped up and to his right, but both looked lackadaisical in his mechanics and showed no urgency on the pass. Goodwin was working vertically, but the ball was underthrown and inside where Clark was providing help on the coverage. Hesitant to pull the trigger the following drive, Manuel took consecutive sacks and the offense went three and out for the third time. Down 20 and the game’s outcome well at hand, Manuel took advantage of a slacking Steeler defense to complete 10 (of his 22 total completions on the day) of 13 throws on the Bills final drive and resulted in the team’s lone TD. Gragg appeared to take off early on the play, but by the mercy of the officials was able to curl up just beyond the goal line as Manuel hit him for the two-yard TD pass. Not many positives to be found on Sunday, Manuel did show the wherewithal to slide whilst scrambling in the open field early in the game and never appeared hindered by his knee
Week 11 - After such a horrific showing in his first game back in Week 10, Bills fans have to be bursting with joy after what they saw from Manuel in his second game back against a defense that befuddled him in the first meeting between Buffalo and New York. Intent on playing it safe early with the swirling Buffalo winds, Manuel’s first throw didn’t come until the 2nd drive. Manuel and Marquise Goodwin connected for 10 yards on 2nd down with QB setting a nice screen to CJ Spiller for nine yards two plays later. Nearing midfield and facing a 3rd and one, the offense took a bad false start penalty and Manuel’s throw was batted down at the line effectively killing the drive just as it appeared to be gaining momentum. Manuel responded well, however, working the short throws and the offense down the field on the next drive. First a quick out to Chris Hogan for 11 yards followed by another seven yards to Goodwin on a hitch. Manuel underthrew Goodwin two plays later on a shot down the field, but still managed to place the ball where his WR could get his hands on it before it fell incomplete. The former Seminole went right back to the short game, connecting with Hogan for the second time on the drive for 12 yards, this time on 3rd down. Another 10-yard completion put the offense in 3rd and short, but would have to settle for a FG after Manuel’s throw to Lee Smith sailed well over the TE’s head on the short pass. The QB continued to throw confidently on the following drive, completing his next four passes before setting up the big play. After the punting unit was able to draw the Jets offside, Manuel made them pay with a short sneak on 4th down to extend the drive. Three plays later the rookie unleashed one of his uglier throws, but TJ Graham made a great adjustment on the severely underthrown ball and walked into the end zone with a 34-yard TD. On the play Manuel did a nice job recognizing the immediate pressure coming on his right and was able to uncork it before getting hit, but the fade to Graham seemed to hang in the air longer than Phil Mickelson chip shot. Dee Milliner had his back turned on the throw and when Graham hit the brakes to adjust, Milliner carried right into the end zone. All alone, Graham merely made one cut inside before sauntering in for the TD. Manuel wouldn’t drop back again until two drives later, narrowly missing another TD pass. The Jets brought pressure, but Fred Jackson blew the rusher up, which allowed the QB to sneak to his right outside the pocket. Manuel was forced to put the throw on a line to cut through the wind and Hogan was unable to adjust quickly enough to make a play on the pass. Not looking as sharp out of halftime, Manuel and the offense were forced to punt on consecutive possessions despite a really smart play from Manuel on the latter of those possessions. Trying to get the handoff to Jackson on a stretch run, Manuel couldn’t reach his RB and quickly made the most of the busted play as he booted off the “fake” and turned what could have been a disaster into a productive run. The drive stalled, but the quick action of the rookie QB didn’t go unnoticed. Finally facing some adversity with the Jets cutting the lead down to 10, the QB responded abruptly and brutally. Starting on their own 17, Manuel’s first throw was a deep fade to a streaking Graham down the sideline. The ball was perfectly placed on his outside shoulder and Graham hauled it in for a 40-yard gain. Manuel dropped back on the following play and again attacked down the field, this time on the opposite side. A perfect throw, Manuel precisely dropped the dime out in front of a streaking Goodwin and as he was able to run under the throw without breaking stride and waltz in for a 44-yard TD catch. The offense did nothing over the next two drives, but again sprung back to life after another New York score. Facing a 3rd and nine, Manuel threw a dart to Scott Chandler as he ran a crosser and the TE was able to turn the catch into a 31-yard gain. The throw was Manuel’s last and led to three more points going on the board.
Week 13 - The rookie giveth and the rookie taketh away. For the first time in weeks Manuel and the Bills offense were out of the gates quickly, but the rookie was inconsistent and when the running game stalled Manuel wasn’t able to sustain enough through the passing game to keep the pressure on the Falcons. Using the big play from the rushing attack to get deep into Atlanta territory, Manuel used his legs first on his first official dropback to get the Bills on the board. Booting right off play action, Manuel continued to fade right whilst waiting for a receiving option to open up before finally taking off for the front corner of the end zone. Angled out of bounds, the rookie went horizontal and made a tremendously athletic play to clip the pylon for the three-yard touchdown run. Manuel’s first completion didn’t come until halfway through the 2nd drive, connecting with Stevie Johnson on a shallow crosser for 15 yards. Three plays later, Manuel and Johnson connected again on a seven-yard slant that set up another Buffalo rushing TD. The following drive was a struggle as Manuel fumbled a snap to put the offense well behind the sticks and then nearly threw an INT on 3rd down with a late throw to Marquise Goodwin. The former Seminole methodically worked down the field on the next drive, completing four of his first five throws (none longer than 10 yards), but missed on his next three as the offense was forced to settle for a FG. After two straight three and outs, Manuel opened the 2nd drive out of halftime with a 15-yard strike to Johnson. The QB continued to throw on the drive with three straight passes, but questionably threw a deep fade to Johnson on 3rd and short forcing another quick punt. Manuel’s lone passing TD came on the next drive as he threw a screen to Fred Jackson on 1st down and the RB turned the short throw into 21-yard TD pass. Another quick three and out followed, before Manuel connected with Robert Woods on his longest throw of the game on the Bills final scoring drive. Not the greatest of throws in terms of his WR’s health, but the QB did a nice job to drop the pass in-between the coverage for a 33-yard gain. The throw took Woods into the coverage and he paid for it for with a brutal hit. The offense was in the end zone and the lead a play later, but couldn’t muster enough to ever put the Falcons away. Two straight drives with a seven-point lead, two straight three and outs. Manuel nearly threw another INT forcing a throw into Chandler before finishing the first of the two drives off prematurely with another not close fade attempt to Goodwin on 3rd down. Manuel took a bad delay of game penalty the following drive before safely dumping the ball off to Jackson on 3rd and long. A position in which Manuel appears to thrive, he took over at his own 20-yard line on the Bills final drive of regulation with a little over a minute to work with. After gaining nothing on 1st and 2nd down, Manuel connected with Chandler for 23 yards on 3rd and 10. Three plays later, the QB hit Johnson on 3rd down on a shallow crosser that would have taken the Bills into FG range, but a Johnson fumble on the play killed the drive. Manuel and the Bills were the first to receive possession in OT and again the rookie seemed poised for another successful drive. With Chandler working the seam, Manuel delivered a perfect ball against really tight coverage to Chandler for 22 yards, but again the defense was able to get a hand on the ball and knock it loose ending both Manuel’s day and the Bills Calista Flockhart-like playoff chances.
Week 14 - Former University of Idaho Head Coach Robb Akey once said after returning in 2008 from a 70-0 drubbing by the University of Arizona: “Well, at least the plane didn’t crash on the way home.” One would expect Manuel and the Bills to have a similar sentiment after their trip to Tampa Bay on Sunday. After a shaky start to open the game where Manuel only completed one of three throws for four yards, he found brief success the following drive. A 10-yard completion to Stevie Johnson opened the drive and two plays later the offense was deep into Buc territory after Manuel connected with Scott Chandler for 15 yards. Two plays later, however, the QB took the first of seven sacks on the day and put the offense in a tailspin it never seemed to recover from. After a quick three-and-out that included two sacks and an incompletion, Manuel opened the next drive with consecutive positive plays. A nice scramble for seven yards kicked the drive off and the rookie QB hit Johnson for 11 yards on the next play. Manuel tried to connect with his favorite WR two plays later and actually delivered a very catchable ball, but the throw deflected off Johnson’s hands and popped into the air for an easy INT by LB Lavonte David. Gifted the ball right back, the rookie QB continued the spiral as he returned the favor to Tampa Bay after one short completion to Robert Woods. The blame could certainly be placed on the WR on Manuel first INT, but the second was all QB. Trying to hit TJ Graham as he worked towards the middle of the field, Manuel misread the coverage from Johnthan Banks and compounded the misread by throwing late. Banks was playing inside the coverage the whole way and that made for an easy INT when the errant throw fluttered and was behind the WR. Manuel should have never thrown the pass given the coverage and was only made worse by his poor throw. Whilst he didn’t turn the ball over the following drive, the struggles continued. After having another pass batted down at the line of scrimmage on first down, Manuel completely missed reading a blitzing Darrelle Revis on 3rd down and took another sack on the way to another three-and-out. Manuel’s best play of the game came on the following drive, but sadly was just an athletic throwaway that prevented another sack deep in Bills territory. Manuel worked off play action, but ultimately fled the pocket as Gerald McCoy came bearing down. Manuel couldn’t escape the DT and with him wrapped around his legs, Manuel smartly side-armed the ball out of bounds just before he hit the turf to prevent the huge loss. The Bills and Manuel showed some life with the first drive out of halftime, but were unable to avoid another drive-killing sack. After three runs and a defensive pass interference penalty, Manuel and Johnson connected on the Bills longest play of the game. Manuel’s throw on the post was high, but Johnson was able to elevate and make the 31-yard catch despite being brutally sandwiched between Mason Foster and Dashon Goldson. After two more completions on the next two plays, Manuel killed another drive by trying to scramble instead of stepping up into the collapsing pocket and ran right into a sack from DE William Gholston. The rookie’s day only worsened the following drive, just as the offense had worked inside the Tampa 35-yard line. Appearing to target Johnson, Manuel badly missed and threw the ball right into a sitting Mason Foster’s arms for his 3rd INT of the game. Just as he did in the 1st half, Manuel’s INT was followed with another on the next drive. After two short completions, the QB made a nice move to escape the pocket and buy some more time, but his throw took Woods right into Revis’ waiting shoulder. The ball popped out and Lavonte David was again in the right place at the right time as he snatched it out of the air. The offense appeared to find some semblance of life the next drive out as Manuel connected with CJ Spiller on what looked like an 83-yard TD pass. However, a questionable holding penalty took the TD away and the drive, and game, fizzled away.
Week 15 - There’s a good chance Manuel had to be feeling a little ‘here we go again’ early in Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, but he managed to ride out the early struggles and eventually get the passing offense settled. Manuel was gifted great field position on the Bills opening drive, but after overthrowing Robert Woods in the end zone Manuel’s constant struggles with his mechanics really showed through on 3rd down. TJ Graham was open on the in-breaking route, but the rookie never quite settled in the pocket whilst making the throw and the pass skipped off the turf five yards in front of Graham. The following drive was even worse as Manuel opened the drive missing Stevie Johnson badly on a quick bubble screen. After a nice scramble for 13 yards on 3rd down, Manuel and Johnson missed two plays later on the same screen pass. Still searching for his first completion, Manuel found it the following play as he tried to hit CJ Spiller on a screen pass. Paying no heed to the defense and with his mind clearly made up, the rookie lofted the throw to the spot he expected Spiller to be. However, his RB had been wiped out by one of his own O-linemen and LB Geno Hayes easily picked the soft toss off. With his first “completion” behind him, Manuel finally found one of his own WRs the following drive as he hit Johnson on a bubble screen for four yards. For the first time in months, Manuel finally kept on a read-option and picked up a 3rd on the two-yard run. Three plays later, Manuel connected with TE Scott Chandler deep down the middle of the field for a 27-yard gain, but another shoddy throw on an attempted screen three plays later killed the drive. Manuel and the offense were backed deep into their own territory two drives later, but the QB finally settled as the offense put together their longest drive of the game. Using a play-action fake, Manuel connected with Woods on a deep out for 20 yards. Two plays later, he went back to the run fake and hit TE Chris Gragg for 28 yards as worked across the middle of the field. An iffy defensive pass interference penalty extended the drive and Manuel took advantage. Woods curled up just before he reached the end zone and the rookie put the throw right on him for a seven-yard TD pass. Manuel only completed one pass on the next drive, again coming off a play fake as he hit Woods on another deep out for 16 yards. As the offense moved inside the Jaguar 10-yard line, Manuel called his own number on 2nd down and followed his FB through the middle of the line on a QB draw for an eight-yard TD run. Just as Manuel and the offense struggled early in the 1st half, they experienced similar struggles early in the 2nd half. After a quick three and out to open the half, Manuel opened the next drive with an eight-yard completion to Chandler. After five straight runs, the rookie dropped back on 3rd down but couldn’t connect with Johnson on the quick throw. Pressure forced Manuel to get rid of the ball before he wanted and Johnson wasn’t even out of his break before the pass was on him. Manuel completed his next three throws on the following drive, but disaster struck on his fourth dropback. Not sensing the blindside pressure and lacking urgency, Manuel took a shot from blitzing S Winston Guy and fumbled the ball away on the hit. The fumble allowed the Jaguars to tie the game, but Manuel and the offense quickly bounced back. After connecting with Woods on a deep in for 20 yards, Manuel threw his best pass of the game the following play. With Marquise Goodwin streaking vertically, the rookie put the ball right on the WR’s hands but Goodwin couldn’t hold on as Winston Guy delivered a brutal shot. Manuel continued to utilize the play fake as the drive resumed, hitting Frank Summers in the flat for 11 yards, Woods for 18 yards two plays later, again the following play as he picked up seven yards on a scramble and finally finished the drive off three plays later with the game winning one-yard TD pass to Summers after faking to Jackson in the backfield. With a lead and sticking to the coaches’ promise of scaling things back for the rookie, Manuel didn’t attempt another throw on Sunday.