EJ-GenoA first round quarterback and a second round selection, both of these second year passers were taken in the Top-50 of the 2013 NFL Draft but they both appear to be at a crossroads entering the 2015 season.

EJ Manuel was selected 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills and then first year head coach Doug Marrone. He was billed as the quarterback of the future and started out his rookie season as the starter but after leading the Bills to a 2-2 record in his first four games, he left his fifth NFL game with a knee injury that would sideline him for the next 4 weeks.

The former Florida State quarterback returned to win two games over his next five but missed the last two games of the year with another knee injury, ending the season 4-6 in his 10 starts. In the off-season both coach Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley expressed confidence in Manuel progressing and being the starter heading into the 2014 season but the two-year $5 million contract Buffalo signed veteran Kyle Orton to in late August would say otherwise.

Manuel went .500% in four games to begin the year but was benched in favor of Orton after a two sack/two interception performance against the Texans in Houston. Orton has gone on to lead the Bills to a 5-3 record in his eight games with a 13-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and while he certainly isn’t the future at the position, EJ Manuel has no claim to that title in Buffalo either.

Meanwhile in New York, Geno Smith has now started 25 games in the last two years and has 32 interceptions with a 9-16 combined record in those contests. His rookie year wasn’t a complete disaster, as he managed to make it through all 16 games unscathed but did produce a 12-to-21 touchdown-to-interception ration on the season. The next off-season the Jets moved on completely from former starter Mark Sanchez after an 8-8 season with Geno under center but Smith has now gone 1-8 this season, while Sanchez has gone 3-1 in his four starts for the Eagles in relief duty for Nick Foles.

Smith has been benched in favor of Michael Vick, he has had rifts with the media and with fans but what is more troubling is the team’s inability to develop players at the quarterback position. In Geno’s last start the team utilitzed a run heavy approach and limited the second year passer to 13 attempts ina loss to the Dolphins, showing zero confidence in the former Mountaineer.

Going forward, the Jets look to be on the precipice of a complete and total rebuild from the players as well as coaches to the front office and general manager. There’s no guarantee Geno Smith will be part of the 2015 roster at this point and the same can be said of many Jet players save Nick Mangold, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.

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This supports the ultimate belief that most front office people and talent evaluators have during the draft and in player acquisition; “Take the BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE”.

Regardless of any prevailing need at a position, sometimes one particular draft class doesn’t have the answer at quarterback like in this instance. In some cases it’s just better to wait, as in the case of the Dallas Cowboys drafting Morris Claiborne sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft.

EJ Manuel is clearly going to enter next season as a backup (to Kyle Orton or some other QB) and he is under contract for the next two seasons with a fifth year option for 2017. There’s still time with Manuel but there were major confidence issues before he got pulled and it’s very iffy that Bills will even pickup that option for an extra year instead of just replace him.

Geno Smith looks to be all but done in New York, as the former 39th overall pick has been treated like a liability on the field by the coaching staff and hasn’t shown off any strengths to his game other than throwing interceptions. You can’t ever rule a player out but if Smith is going to turn himself into anything but the backup he is right now, it is going to have to happen elsewhere with only two years left on his rookie deal.

Another point to make about both team’s coaching staffs and scouting departments being on the same page. No matter how well your scouts or decision makers do their job, teams still have to find a way to develop the talent you bring into the building. The Jets have failed on multiple fronts (Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith) to develop any player at the quarterback position which puts a serious cloud of doubt over Smith’s NFL stock. The verdict is still out on the current Bills’ staff which makes us want to give EJ Manuel a small chance of success at some point in the not so distant future.

What a difference a couple of seasons can make.

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1 Comment

  1. Brandon says:

    Stick a fork in ’em, they’re done.

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