EJ Manuel and the political landscape of the NFL

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So the Bills finally signed a back-up QB that has actually spent some time in the NFL and played the game reasonably well at the professional level. Don’t get me wrong, nobody is going to confuse Kyle Orton’s career with Jim Kelly’s (or Joe Ferguson’s for that matter) but, he’s a capable QB who has shown the ability to lead a team and demonstrated some proficiency at his position.

That makes him unique among the current quarterbacks on the Buffalo Bills roster.

Mr. Orton as thrown 81 TDs, passed for over 15,000 yards and has a record of 35-34 as a starter.

All this should worry one EJ Manuel. So far EJ has benefited from the politics of the NFL. He was a number 1 pick, the first QB taken in the NFL draft, and anointed as the future of his team by the GM and coach who drafted him. His roster and starting spots were assured. That’s the politics of being drafted number 1 by a new GM and first year head coach. It’s nice while it lasts. EJ might need to get ready for the other end of NFL politics. With the arrival of Kyle Orton, life could get real uncomfortable for the second year signal caller.

First, the Bills do not have an owner. That is going to change…soon. This new owner will have spent upwards of $1 billion dollars for his new toy and since he had a billion dollars laying around, he probably is very used to winning, and enjoys the whole concept of coming out on top. He is somebody who did not hire the current GM, the current coach and did not draft the current starting QB.

He most certainly knows that the team he just purchased is currently on a 14 year playoff drought and that fact is not lost on said GM and coach.

What happens when the Bills start 1-3 or 0-4, the second year QB looks no better than he did during the preseason, fans are screaming, and there is a veteran QB sitting on the bench with a resume that says he is capable of leading a team. Especially one that has not only one, but two 1,000 yard running backs, one of the most exciting rookie wide receivers this side of Randy Moss, and two other receivers capable of stretching a defense and getting open. This QB also has a defense that repeatedly gives him the ball and is routinely holding the other team to say 10-14 points and still losing.

Yep, the vet starts, the former number 1 pick sits, and all of a sudden the offense comes alive, the team starts winning, the fans are happy, the new owner relaxes and the second year QB is buried on the bench.

This is not a fairy tale. This is called life in the NFL. The arrival of Kyle Orton may have signaled the end of the EJ Manuel honeymoon period.

EJ does not have to be Peyton Manning in his second year but, the Bills open the 2014 season with four winnable games. This Bills team has as much talent (on paper) as the Bears, Texans, Dolphins and Chargers. EJ has to move the offense, take advantage of what our defense gives him, win 2 or better yet 3 of these games and give hope to the fans, and more importantly faith to the GM who drafted him and the coach who starts him.

If not, than expect to see a healthy dose of one Kyle Orton. The Bills are all in with EJ…for now. He plays like he did in the pre-season then he will feel the other side of the NFL political landscape. If Manuel does not believe that he is one or two bad games from the bench, he might want to get in touch with Rob Johnson who 15 years ago had a front row seat as he watched one Doug Flutie take his job. Johnson once was told he too was the future of the Bills, and was given $25 million dollars to convince him. That lasted right up until he started 1-3 and then watched his back-up go 9-3 and make the playoffs.

Bills fans (and a new owner) are not pleased with the prospect of a 15th year of not competing for a playoff spot.

Careful EJ, the political landscape in the NFL can change pretty quick.

  • mario

    Incorrect he’s benefited from the fact that he was a rookie last year and if you have to give up on your first round qb after less than one season it can be considered nothing but a major failure of everyone in the organization. They would all be basically confirming that they don’t know what they are doing

  • Carl Pfeiffer

    Agree, I think the Bills need to stick with EJ but, we can’t ignore that Orton is now on the squad. There is going to be pressure to turn to Orton if Buffalo starts slow. That said, EJ has all the tools and I am hoping he comes out of the gate strong. The last thing Buffalo needs is a QB controversy!

  • Falcons

    After watching EJ in the preseason he looks like he’s ready to hand the helm over to Orton now. Just terrible play, with the speed and talent surrounding him. I really hope he can find the confidence to turn thing around for himself.