In all fairness to the Buffalo Bills and their fan base, 14 years without a playoff appearance can make you a little fidgety and uneasy. That being said, fans need to cool their collective jets about E.J. Manuel and the quarterback situation.
Buffalo’s 2013 first round draft pick has looked like a rookie this year, which is astounding when you consider that he’s a rookie. Some games he’s looked dynamic, stretching the field with deep balls but being able to scramble and run away from trouble. Other games he’s been running for his life and looking less-than-stellar when throwing.
These things happen when you’re a rookie in the NFL.
The biggest complaint, however, is not about his play. Rookies are going to be rookies. No, it’s the fact that Manuel has missed extended time this season with knee injuries. That has folks understandably concerned, but we need to get one thing straight: the Bills will not, nor should they, select a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Is it a little troubling that Manuel’s knee problems have persisted throughout his rookie season? Sure, but you know why you shouldn’t be worried? Matthew Stafford had injury woes his first two seasons and turned out alright.
But again, when you’re a fan of a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 14 years and have had to cheer for quarterbacks like Rob Johnson, Trent Edwards, J.P. Losman and Ryan Fitzpatrick, you tend to get a little guarded and just a little more irrational when it comes to your quarterback. You can’t help the ‘Nam-like flashbacks at this point — they just kind of happen.
And chew on this: If the Bills were to use their first round pick on a quarterback they’d be the first team in history to use a first round pick on a quarterback in back-to-back seasons. You know why? Because 10 games don’t make a quarterback’s development. Manuel will likely grow as a player in year two even if he doesn’t look like a franchise guy. By year three, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting.
So listen to me, Bills fans: I get it. Really, I do. You can’t endure this kind of fandom and not be jumpy, but give Manuel time. Let him learn; let him get accustomed to the NFL and how the game works on this level. But don’t demand a new QB or this team will be right back to where it started 14 years ago.