The Buffalo Bills had a receiver problem on Sunday. They were missing their top two guys in Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. Their replacement lineup hardly put a scare into the New York Jets defense. Rookie Marquise Goodwin and second-year player T.J. Graham would get the starts. Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley, with nine combined receptions in their respective NFL careers, would be the third and fourth guys.
QB E.J. Manuel shook off his poor performance on Sunday and threw the ball well, but it was the receivers who helped make plays for him. Goodwin, who had 10 career catches coming into the game, led the team with six receptions for 81 yards and a TD. He looked like a veteran out there and was more versatile than expected. While he caught a long 43-yard bomb for a TD, he also helped move the chains on drives with crisp route runs.
He’s a guy that can expected to get a larger role in the offense even when Johnson and Woods return to the lineup. He’s a football player, not just a track star as was the fear about him going into the draft.
Graham added only two catches of his own, but made a very nice adjustment on a Manuel pass that was underthrown in the wind for a 40-yard TD. Graham is more of a speed threat, but with a healthy complement of receivers playing in front of him, he’ll always be a threat to get behind a defense. Hogan had three catches himself for 29 yards, but all three were converted for first downs. He’s a solid backup and a guy you don’t mind seeing getting pressed into playing time if need be.
Overall, Manuel had a great performance because he spread the ball around. Nine different Bills caught passes for him on Sunday. It was Goodwin, Graham and Hogan who led the way. The Bills desperately needed others to step up in the passing game this week, and these three guys answered the call. With Johnson and Woods expected to return after the bye, Manuel should have lots of confidence with all of his options after the unit’s performance on Sunday.