Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel had himself quite a day Sunday.
With the team’s greatest quarterback in franchise history on hand watching, Manuel at times showed why he’s widely regarded at the team’s most electrifying prospect at quarterback since Jim Kelly slung the ball around Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Manuel completed 27-of-39 passes for 296 yards and connected with Stevie Johnson on the game-winning score with just two seconds remaining. The opportunity was set up by a nine-yard Manuel run the play before.
The late heroics offered hope that the position for Buffalo is no longer a liability more Sundays than a strength.
But along with the glory comes the growing pains—especially for a rookie quarterback in this league.
Manuel didn’t make many mistakes, but when he did they were nearly costly. After the jump, see the breakdown of Manuel’s fourth quarter interception that put Buffalo in jeopardy of falling to 0-2 on the season.
Part I: On second down and nine, Bills are lined up with three wide receivers, one tight end (right) and C.J. Spiller as the lone back. Robert Woods is split left while T.J Graham is left with Stevie Johnson behind him right.
Part II: Four receivers go out, all within seven yards of the line of scrimmage, while Spiller heads out to the left flat. You can already tell at this point Manuel is locked into Graham. Spiller is emerging as a safe, open target on the left while Johnson’s guy (D.J. Moore) is headed towards Graham after reading Manuel’s eyes, which again are locked on Graham.
Part III: Manuel throws the ball into what’s essentially double coverage, and it’s picked off by linebacker Luke Keuchly. The photo indicates Manuel should’ve dumped off to Spiller, who had room to run and therefore, ample chance to at least get close to a first down. Johnson also appears open on the right although it would’ve been a more difficult throw.
Summation: Manuel simply needs to continue working on getting through his progressions quickly and more importantly, not locking into one receiver. Bad things happened when he got a (rare) case of tunnel vision with Graham.
We’ll have plenty of more Buffalo Bills significant play breakdowns throughout the week, particularly once the Coaches Film version of Game Rewind becomes available sometime Tuesday.