|EJ Manuel gets strip sacked in a preseason game against the Bucaneers. James P. McCoy/Buffalo News|
As preseason football draws to a close Patriot fans are reflecting on how great Jimmy Garoppolo has looked in the pocket or Dobson’s breakout performance in the Giants game and can relax as a feeling of optimism washes over them.
That is not the case for Bills fans as they have previewed their team only with a feeling of melancholy enveloping their football soul. Unfortunately, that is a feeling Buffalo fans have become very accustomed to over the years. It all starts with their 2013 first round pick EJ Manuel. The former FSU quarterback’s preseason statistics have not been pretty, 50-of-82 passing (60.2 percent) for 517 yards (6.30 YPA), one touchdown, three turnovers, and six sacks taken. Things got so bad in the Buccaneers matchup the Bills fans started booing their own team. Marquise Goodwin responded to the aggravated fans on Twitter saying:
Looks like we will have to play against our own "fans" this year. Same ones booing prolly the first in line for autographs. Smh #FEWDM
— MARQUISE GOODWIN (@flashgoodwin) August 24, 2014
Some may say that the preseason doesn’t mean much, in fact the Patriots last year lost to the Lions 40-9 but still went on to claim a 12-4 record. However, the Bills are a franchise that is desperate for any moral victory and such preseason numbers give rise to expectations of yet another mediocre season for the franchise. Expectations are also high for Manuel to succeed this year because of the team investing so heavily in wide receiver talent. Buffalo has used a second round pick on Robert Woods, a third round pick on Marquise Goodwin, and gave up this year’s first round pick, next year’s first round pick and next year’s fourth round selection for Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. Such an investment in Watkins may not pay off this year because Watkins has re-injured his rib in their most recent preseason game against the Lions.
Personally, I believe Buffalo fans should take it easy on Manuel. Yes, they are likely to have yet another season under .500, but consider his situation. He is only in his second year, his receivers are also young, and he was injured so often last year he only played 10 games. Manuel is too early in his career for fans to be so down on him, though I suppose when your team hasn’t appeared in the playoffs in the current century it is justifiable for dejected fans to vent their frustrations.
Manuel is unquestionably the starter, but if he continues to struggle coach Doug Marrone could look to another quarterback to lead the team. Whoever that may be it won’t be Jordan Palmer who was just cut today.
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