The start to E.J. Manuel‘s career was almost too good to be true.
He turned the ball over and was sacked only one time each in each of the first two games as starting QB for the Buffalo Bills. After watching Tom Brady, one of the best ever, snatch away victory in the final seconds of his first game, Manuel produced some drama of his own in Week 2 with a dramatic last minute game-winning touchdown throw.
The numbers in the first two games were staggering for Manuel: three TDs to one INT, a near 70 percent completion percentage and a QB rating over 95 percent.
Something had to give for Manuel, and it gave in a big way on Sunday. Facing a tough New York Jets front seven, Manuel struggled to get the ball down the field all day long. He was only 19 of 42 for 243 yards and a TD. After only being sacked once in his first two games, Manuel was sent down eight times by the Jets.
In the end, Manuel couldn’t convert when he needed to the most on third down and in the red zone. Opportunities to score became field goals instead of touchdowns. The Bills blew whatever chances the defense gave them with turnovers by not being able to convert. It was as bad of a game as a quarterback can have.
There were some positives to take away from Manuel’s performance. Despite all of the pressure, he still did not throw an INT, once again showing that he is not prone to making mistakes. He also kept his head up and made plays after the beating he took, keeping the Bills within striking distance.
All in all, the performance was not totally surprising. Manuel was the 16th pick in the draft after all, so bumps in the road were to be expected. The key for Manuel will be how he bounces back. He’ll face the Baltimore Ravens at home this Sunday with a chance to prove that last week’s performance was the exception and not the rule.