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Buffalo Bills quickly learning about dangers of EJ Manuel as mobile QB

Posted by Erik Frenz  October 4, 2013 05:43 PM

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For the second time since being drafted in April, Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel has an injured knee. That's a pretty big problem in the short-term, as we saw that backup quarterback Jeff Tuel is wholly unprepared to carry an NFL offense in the regular season.

Luckily, the injury itself may not be a big deal, according to Bills head coach Doug Marrone.

It hasn't taken long for the Bills to see both the risks and the rewards of having a mobile quarterback run their offense.

At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, running a 4.65-second 40-yard dash, Manuel can be tough to stop when he gets his legs moving. He must also know when to stop himself.

Manuel had an operation on his right knee as a result of some swelling following a game against the Vikings. He entered at halftime and was sacked on 3rd-and-8 with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

There wasn't much Manuel could have done to prevent his first injury. He had nowhere to go, with Vikings defenders flying in from every direction, and got crushed by multiple defensive linemen. He missed the remainder of the preseason, and it was unclear whether he would be ready for Week 1 until days before.

On Thursday night against the Browns, though, Manuel simply got a little too greedy for his own good.

manuel knee.gif

Good friend Michael Schottey brings up an interesting point as it relates to mobile quarterbacks:

What's more important, the extra yard when you've already gotten past the sticks? Or are the more important yards all the yards that you could rack up in seven days when you're not sitting out with injury?

It's hard to know exactly where to draw the line in the sand.

That being said, give Manuel all the credit in the world for fighting for every single yard, and his coaching staff for sticking up for him after the injury.

"EJ's a tough kid," Marrone said. "He took a shot, he scrambled, he made a first down (and) he was trying to score a touchdown. What do you say? ‘Don't scramble, don't score touchdowns.’ What do you think?"

It's a valid point; the Bills don't want to prevent him from doing what he does best. The problem with that is, if his mobility is limited or his knee is less than 100 percent, that allows the defensive front to rush a little harder at the quarterback, worrying less about the threat of the run.

There's also the issue of a player's lack of confidence in the injured knee once they return. Look no further than Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III for a perfect example in that respect.

Those concerns will be waiting for Manuel when he returns; in the meantime, the Bills have a daunting four-game schedule ahead of them: at home vs. the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2), then they travel back-to-back weeks to face the Miami Dolphins (3-1) and the New Orleans Saints (4-0), then wrap up at home to host the Kansas City Chiefs (4-0).

Those four opponents have a combined 13-3 record.

The injury, the Bills unpreparedness for it, and the upcoming schedule have put the team in a bind.

Who is that quarterback? That's anyone's guess -- although former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is the obvious choice, at this point.

The Bills don't face the Patriots again until Week 17, so they'll likely have Manuel back by that point, but with such a daunting schedule ahead and such dire circumstances, the immediate future is bleak for Buffalo.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »


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