The last two times the Patriots played against a young running QB, it didn’t go well. First came the week 6 game against the Seahawks, when the legendary combo of Bill Bellhicheck and Tom Brady got run over by a series of play actions and rollouts, as the elusive Russell Wilson threw for 293 yards and three TDs to come back from a 23-10 Patriots 4th quarter lead. Then came the week 15 game against the 49ers when Colin Kaepernick made the Patriots’ defense crumple faster than Mark Sanchez running into his own receiver’s behind. Kaepernick ducked and dodged New England linemen, throwing for 221 yards and 4 Tds while also tossing in 28 yards on the ground, as the 49ers defeated the Patriots, 41-34. Today at 1 PM, rookie QB EJ Manuel has a chance to follow in their footsteps and upstage the heavily favored New England Patriots.
Manuel may not yet be as polished as Kaepernick or Wilson, but he certainly has the talent. Besides, the same could have been said last year of those two quarterbacks, neither of whom were deemed worthy of being drafted in the first round. And sure, EJ is coming minor knee surgery and has yet to actual pass to premier wide receiver Stevie Johnson in a live game, but the speed and spontaneity that the new Bills offense brings can make up for rust and inexperience.
New Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone has a history of utilizing the pistol and the run-and-gun, and after a pre-seson of training, these packages may be on display today. As lineman Vince Wilfork has stated, The Patriots’ defense’s focus will be on Pro Bowl Bills running back CJ spiller throughout the game, which could allow for deadly play actions from the Bills offense. EJ manuel has the same ability to move out of the pocket and throw with accuracy that Wilson and Kaepernick do , and the Patriots, as evidenced by last year’s aforetmentioned games, aren’t suited to handle that style of play. While the Bills receiving core isn’t overflowing with talent, but never doubt Stevie Johnson, who’s athleticism can much up with any cornerback or safety in the Patriots secondary.
With EJ Manuel still very much unproven and the Patriots being the Patriots, New England is of course the odds on favorite to win, if not dominate this game. But if Spiller can get the ball rolling on the ground, and Manuel subsequently effectively use Marrone’s packages, we may be seeing a closer game than once thought, perhaps even a Buffalo victory.