Some fan bases have it bad. There is just no end in sight to the despair and the heartbreak. At times there is a glimmer of hope, but that glimmer is so brief at times they wish they never experienced it.
Since 2000, the Bills fan-base has experienced three seasons of being at least a .500 team. In that time they’ve had 7 head coaches and 8 starting quarterbacks. One of those quarterbacks was J.P. Losman, who still lurks in the nightmares of Bills fans everywhere. In 2013 the Bills hired Doug Marrone, who had coached football at Syracuse. Marrone was 25-25 in the four seasons he coached Syracuse. Keep in mind, Syracuse played in the Big East Conference, which was pretty much the “junior varsity” of BCS conferences.
The Bills continued with the “head scratching” moves in 2013 by blindsiding everyone in the draft. With the 16th overall pick, they selected EJ Manuel out of Florida State. Even the most dedicated Florida State fans were surprised that a guy who finished his college career with 47 touchdowns and 28 interceptions would be trusted as a “future franchise” quarterback for any team. Considering Florida State won the National Championship the very next season with pretty much the same team and a red-shirt freshman at quarterback – one can understand the skepticism.
The Bills haven’t done everything wrong though. In 2011 they drafted a stud defensive tackle in Marcell Dareus. They surprised everyone in 2012 when they were able to sign free agent defensive end Mario Williams who many thought was going to Chicago or New York. Even this year they made two big splashes in the draft trading up for play-maker wide receiver Sammy Watkins, using a second round pick on right tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and signing free agent line backers Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes. Give the Bills this – they are trying. Even with the trying, the latest news of Bills head coach Doug Marrone benching second year quarterback EJ Manuel for veteran Kyle Orton must be disheartening for some close to Buffalo.
The Bills are 2-2. They were a seven point underdog visiting Chicago and won, then they crushed division rival Miami 29-10 in Buffalo’s home opener. The next week was a loss to a San Diego Chargers team that is looking like one of the best teams in the league right now, with Philip Rivers who might be playing like the best quarterback in the league, currently; and last week they loss by six points to the Houston Texans. Remember how Houston got those six points – two 50+ yard fields goals by Randy Bullock. Of course, there was the pick-6 by JJ Watt which was obviously thrown by EJ Manuel – but let’s think about this one. Manuel is still young, will still make mistakes and JJ Watt has made some of the NFL’s “elite” quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen look flat out “silly,” throughout his career.
So what exactly has Manuel done wrong to get benched? Let’s take a look at his stat line:
209.5 yards per game / five touchdowns / three interceptions / 6.4 yards per pass / and a completion percentage of 58%.
Matthew Stafford in Detroit has five touchdowns and three interceptions as well, but I doubt second string quarterback Dan Orlovsky is in heavy consideration to be the Lions’ starter. . .
So if they’re benching Manuel for Orton, Orton has to have a resume that makes this an easy decision, right? Right!? Nope. Actually Orton’s career averages, which date back to his days in 2005 to 2013 are almost the same as Manuel’s:
200.3 yards per game / 6.6 yards per pass / and a completion percentage of 58.5%.
Let’s also not forget that Kyle Orton was benched in Chicago in favor of Rex Grossman, who has gone down in history as being probably the worst starting quarterback to have ever played in a Super Bowl; and then while in Denver, Orton was benched for Tim Tebow. Yes, that Tim Tebow.
So why the move, Marrone? Why give up on EJ Manuel, who was supposed to be the future face of this franchise, for a guy who was considering retirement just this off-season? This Bills fan-base has enough to worry about after the passing of their legendary owner Ralph Wilson. The truest Bills fans have thrown ever lasting support to their hero, Jim Kelly in recent months as he battled cancer. All they want is a reason to feel optimistic. Benching last year’s first round pick for a guy well passed his prime who never was anything but average – baffles the mind.
If the Jets can stick with and make up excuses for Geno Smith, their is NO reason the Bills can’t do the same for EJ Manuel.