EJ Manuel knows the pressure is on him in 2014. The Buffalo Bills devoted nearly the entirety of their offseason moves — especially those in the NFL Draft — to fortifying every offensive position around Manuel so that the first round quarterback can succeed. In response, the Florida State product has tried working out with players who are recently coming off similar trajectories as has Manuel.
The latest such player, according to NFL.com, is San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. “I worked out with [Kaepernick] this offseason and just tried to follow his lead,” Manuel said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
That’s not a bad lead to follow, at least on the field. Kaepernick played with a leash on his game in his first season as a starter before the heightened expectations gave him more freedom on the field and in the playbook for San Francisco. Manuel faces similar struggles. Combine that with the fact that Kaepernick is a noted workout freak and you have a perfect pairing for the second year Manuel.
The Buffalo Bills ran more than any other team in football because they wanted to limit the rookie Manuel’s impact on the offense. That can no longer be the case in 2014. If the Bills want to end the longest playoff drought in the NFL, they need their second year quarterback to take a massive leap in his game. Manuel struggled with consistency both in his throw accuracy and in his decision making. If he can overcome those two obstacles, expect the Bills to challenge for a wild card spot in the AFC. If Manuel falters though, it will be business as usual for the beleaguered Bills.