Tonawanda News


September 26, 2013

Bills' Manuel gets crash course in facing blitz


Tonawanda News — Until that happens, he understands opposing defenses are going to take the same approach against him.

"I'm sure a lot more teams are going to try to amp it up a little bit, too," he said. "So I think the biggest thing is showing that you can handle it, and that's when they'll stop doing the blitzes."

Manuel's struggles came a week after he showed signs of his potential by rallying the Bills to a last-second 24-23 win over Carolina.

In taking a big step back against the Jets, Manuel showed the tell-tale signs of inconsistency encountered by most NFL rookies. And that's raised concerns among Bills players as to how long it might take Manuel to find his footing against the blitz.

"It's hard to say," center Eric Wood said. "I think he'll rebound, though. Just working with him for the past few months, I think every time a challenge is presented, he's kind of stepped up."

Running back C.J. Spiller offered a mixed response Wednesday.

He credited Manuel for having poise, but also added: "We just have to do a better job of just calming him down."

Not all of the blame should land on Manuel, because the Bills are experiencing difficulty maintaining drives whether they're running or passing.

Buffalo has converted just 14 of 45 third down chances. And more often than not, that's been the result of having difficulty gaining yards on first and second down.

Manuel's inconsistencies have come as no surprise to Jim Kelly, the Bills Hall of Fame quarterback.

"He's getting there. He's had some tough days, but what rookie hasn't?" Kelly said.

"We all hope he'll turn out to be the quarterback we've been praying for," Kelly added. "Great kid. Great work ethic. Time will only tell. But I'm one guy who is pulling for EJ Manuel."

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