Move to Kyle Orton Shows Doug Marrone is Panicking

The Buffalo Bills announced on Monday afternoon that EJ Manuel would not be starting this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Instead, it’ll be nine-year veteran Kyle Orton. Orton, owner of a 35-35 record as a starter and a 58.5 completion percentage, was signed at the end of the preseason to a two year, $11 million contract.

The sudden change seems to have answered a great number of fans cries after watching Manuel struggle the past two games with accuracy issues. These same fans are quick to point to the two straight losses on Manuel for failing to convert open throws, which has stalled the offense at critical junctures of the game.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Doug Marrone is panicking by benching EJ Manuel. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

While the move certainly appeases some fans, I see the change to Orton showing head coach Doug Marrone is currently in crisis mode, and trying to salvage his job.

What shocks me the most is that after spending the entire offseason backing EJ Manuel and going out to get him weapons to utilize, the coaches are now abandoning ship and trying to save their jobs. They even went as far as hiring a quarterback coach, who at this point has not been heard from.

If they were this quick to pull the rug out from under Manuel, then why did they spend so much time defending him? This smells like a cop out. It’s amazing how quickly Marrone and company have quit on Manuel.

In the last two games the offense has failed to produce, which has led to the team losing close games. Yet instead of learning from mistakes, like not having Manuel throw the ball 40 times, the coaches have instead thrown the red flag on the quarterback they all felt confident in 48 hours ago.

Most fans have chided Manuel for not looking down-field and throwing to his receivers, but when the play calls are set for screen plays and short routes then those shortcomings are on the offensive coordinator, not the quarterback,

It’s become quite clear that Nathaniel Hackett is in over his head as a play caller. His predictable screens and situational unawareness haven’t put the offense in good down and distances.

As for Marrone, this has to be a final attempt to hold his job. If that’s the case, it shows Marrone isn’t cut from a tough enough coaching cloth to make it in the NFL. The best coaches have to have confidence not only in what they are doing, but also in their players, especially the quarterback he hitched his wagon to.

Let’s not forget Manuel was the first quarterback selected in the 2013 draft. They could have taken anyone, and opted to choose a quarterback that had all the physical tools and not enough mental success. That’s a fault on the front office and coaching staff for not recognizing those weaknesses and trying to cultivate proper tendencies, mechanics and mindset early on. Instead it’s festered into year two and they still aren’t doing anything to help the young quarterback.

If Orton loses the next two games and the Bills fall to 2-4, then perhaps the next change should involve Doug Marrone being fired and replaced by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. If that happens, it’ll be Marrone’s fault, not Manuel’s.

About Jason DeHart

Jason is a UB alum with over six years of media experience including his time as the student voice for the UB Bulls football & basketball teams. He currently resides in Delray Beach with his wife and currently works for CBSSports.com as an online video producer. #billsmafia4life

9 Replies to “Move to Kyle Orton Shows Doug Marrone is Panicking”

  1. This article shows a lack of understanding about the difference between ‘fault ‘ and ‘panic’. This is a mature move by a coach who has decided right now that in order to win, he need more from the QB. Watkins, Woods and Goodwin also need to develop – they can’t with EJ. They, along with CJ/Fred and M Williams represent way more immediate upside than patience with EJ will bring in the short term. I just wish they had did it in 2nd quarter versus the Texans.

  2. Good article but go back to the Bears Game when they won, that wasn’t because of Manuel’s play, look at the pass Woods caught that he had to jump way up and catch a ball thrown behind and well over his head and EJ averaged 7 yards a pass, to be fair that could be play calling but he does check down a lot as well. The accuracy issues can be fixed but when you have defense making opposing offenses 1 dimensional right now and playing well enough to the make the playoffs you can’t give up on the season, when the rest of the division is not that good right now either. The change was needed. Even in the 19pt win against the Dolphins , Carpenter got them 15pts, and a special teams TD by spiller. The Texans knew what EJ was going to do , Watt stopped pursuing Manuel because he sniffed out the check down and was right there for the pick 6. Then with 1 minute left and the Bills driving he throws where two of his WR’s are and 3 defensive backs surrounding them, if he wanted to take a chance deep he should have known pre-snap that Sammy was 1v1 on the left and once the play started the safety committed to EJ’s right side where he threw it. These are things he can correct and have a promising career but right now with a defense and special teams playing well, and WR’s getting wide open , they needed this change. From what I have seen the WR’s are doing their part to get open but then have to work even harder to catch passes that shouldn’t be hard for an NFL QB to make to an open reciever. If Orton plays terrible there are worse QB’s to have to go back to then EJ.

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  5. There is one comment I agree on in this whole artical and that is Hackett’s play calling or his offensive scheme hasn’t been the best but if you have watched the same Buffalo Bills as I have then it’s obvious that the weak link is at the QB position. Something had to be done and at least Marrone has balls enough to make the change. He is by far the best coach we’ve had for years. I totally disagree with your artical completely.

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  7. It’s funny that fans don’t think this is a panic move…..what else is it. It was a panic move to sign Orton…..a panic move to get Sammy Watkkns…..just a dumb move to get Bryce Brown, who hasn’t even dressed for a game, let alone contributed in any way. They picked the wrong QB 4 times so far……Orton will make lucky #5. Signaling the end of the Doug Marrone project.

  8. Interesting article but some what faulted. EJ was a project when he was drafted. He was not a legitimate 1st round pick. I contend it was Buddy Nix who panicked when he made the selection. Doug Marrone has done what any “manager” would do, and that is show support for your only option at the time. Does this mean EJ can not become an asset to this team in the future? Certainly not, but he needs time to develop. Lets remember the original plan was for Kolb to be the starter and for EJ to jump in when he was ready. When that plan failed they tried to make the best of the existing situation. I’m not ready to say EJ is a bust as it’s way to soon in the process, and I’m willing to wait it out. Also keep in mind of the situation of the entire front office. When this plan was implemented RCW still owned the team and I’m sure everyone felt a little more secure. Now all bets are off as no one knows for sure which the wind will blow. GoBills!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. The author fails to mention EJ Manuel was a 6 round reach and has shown zero progress toward being an NFL quarterback. The real story here is why did Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley reach 6 rounds for a quarterback the year before one of the deepest QB drafts in recent memory then double down on their mistake by giving up the farm for Sammy Watkins. Just another example of why the Pegulas need to fire Russ and Doug.