EJ the Rookie Arrives
Updated: Monday, September 23 2013, 11:27 AM EDT
This past Monday Doug Marrone was asked if quarterback EJ Manuel had "arrived" yet? Marrone answered with the word "no" 6 times. Marrone knew even before the Meltodown at the Meadowlands the truth about his first round draft pick from Florida State Despite the home provided poise and the fortunate game winning drive, EJ was, in every true way, a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Young Erik James Manuel put a confirmation stamp on that fact on Sunday against the Jets just in case anyone wasn't sure.
Manuel had never faced the pressure that Rex Ryan threw at him on Sunday and he responded like a guy who had no idea what to do. Keep in mind, EJ is not the first QB, rookie or veteran, to answer that way when faced with heavy pressure. But the difference with Manuel is that this was the first time we saw him in those circumstances and the first time he played a road game in the NFL. He was unsure where to go with the ball on his early reads. He was unsure when to take off and run with it when he felt the heat He was unsure when to throw the ball away to avoid a sack. He was a lost, unsure rookie trying to learn on the fly.
I want you to pay attention to the way Marrone responds to all questions about Manuel. He said it after the close loss to the Patriots on opening day. He said it after the big comeback, emotional win over the Panthers. And the coach said it Sunday after the ugly loss to the Jets. Marrone said he has high expectations for EJ and he will hold him to that. Of course that sounds different after a win than a loss. But in the long run, that consistent high bar will pay off for EJ and the Bills.
We say Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and RG3 ruined it for all rookie quarterbacks based on their play in 2012. But have you watched the Niners and Redskins so far this year? Both those immensely talented players have looked more like rookies this year more than they ever did last year. For Bills fans I want you to keep something in mind as you watch EJ play his way through this season. Have all the opinions that you want, but try not to draw long term conclusions. It will take a full year or more to figure out what the Bills have with the young man from Florida State, It might even take longer One thing we do know about EJ Manuel and that is that he has arrived. He has arrived as a rookie quarterback in the NFL and many times that is very hard to watch