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.
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.