If he Buffalo Bills are to make it to the playoffs for the first time this century, second-year quarterback EJ Manuel must stay healthy and be more consistent in the offense after showing flashes of brilliance in 10 games last season as a rookie.
Based on the early reports from Bills minicamp, the work Manuel did in the offseason is starting to show as offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has seen tremendous progress in last year’s first round pick based on his comments with the team’s official website.
He’s doing a very good job. He’s put in a lot of work, all the quarterbacks are. They’re understanding the system, understanding what we’re trying to get. It’s nice to see him make plays within the pocket, step up, find his check downs, throw the ball down the field a couple times. He’s really starting to get it all. It was funny, when he came into minicamp he was like, “Alright, no more new installs, let’s work on what we’ve been doing.” I think that’s a refresher for a quarterback that he knows what he’s doing right now with what we’ve got in.
After the Bills traded up five spots to draft former Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins to pair him with last year’s second rounder Robert Woofs, Manuel has some young and talented weapons with which to grow and blossom with a potent running game led by Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
However, being a great quarterback means leading the offense and showing command in the huddle and throughout practices each and every week and that’s the biggest thing Manuel needs to continue to work on between now and the start of the season in September.
“The biggest thing for EJ is just a command of the offense, command of how he runs the whole thing. I think with the system we have, there’s a lot of responsibility on the quarterback to be able to run the whole thing, getting the guys lined up and communicating with everyone. We put a lot on him from that standpoint. How he operates the offense, how he commands it, and how he picks up the new stuff has been something we’ve really strived for and he’s done a really nice job with it.”
Manuel passed for 1,972 yards on 58.2 percent passing with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions as Buffalo went 4-6 in his 10 starts.