Buffalo Bills Validate E.J. Manuel Pick with Performance Against New York Jets

By Nicholas Crimarco

Before the 2013 NFL Combine, Geno Smith was almost the consensus No. 1 quarterback. There was even talk about him going No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs before they traded for Alex Smith. None of the 14 QBs that threw at the combine were very impressive, including Smith, but he still had the best day out of all of them

When the NFL Draft came around in April, Smith was still supposed to be the first QB taken. However, the Buffalo Bills traded back to 16 knowing that they could get the guy they wanted to play QB. It wasn’t Smith, instead it was E.J. Manuel out of Florida State.

Smith, on the other hand, slid all the way down to the second round where he was selected by the New York Jets. This signaled the end of the tenure of QB Mark Sanchez, even though the Jets allowed him to compete for the starting job. After Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason, Smith was named the starting QB.

Manuel beat out Matt Leinart, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel to win the starting QB job for the Bills. He never really had competition for the job and was in control from day one. Manuel suffered an injury in the preseason and the Bills named Tuel the starter for the first game, but Manuel made a quick recovery and was able to play.

Both the Jets and Bills were thought to be two of the worst teams in the NFL going into the season. However, both teams have been competitive behind their rookie QBs. Manuel missed a couple of weeks with an injury, but the Bills are 3-4 when he starts. Smith has played in every game and the Jets are 5-5 when he starts.

Although the Jets are ahead of the Bills in the standings, Manuel has played much better than Smith and that showed on Sunday. Manuel has six TDs and four INTs passing and has rushed for one TD on 117 yards. Smith has thrown eight TDs and 16 INTs and has rushed for 172 yards and three TDs.

The turnover-prone Smith was benched in the game Sunday after throwing three INTs and completing only eight of his 23 passes. Manuel on the other hand went 20 for 28 with two TDs and zero INTs. Manuel is looking like a game manager with tremendous upside, while Smith is looking like another Mark Sanchez and is proving that Buffalo made the right choice when they took Manuel over him.

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