How the EJ Manuel Injury Might be a Blessing in Disguise
Okay, okay, like most Bills fans I am also drinking the EJ Manuel Kool-aid. The kid is good – perhaps really good. So why then would I consider his injury a positive? Why would I have ill-wishes to a seemingly good, quality pivot?
Let’s just get out of the way that I think the rest of the year is going to be painful – like Miley-Cyrus-at-an-awards-ceremony painful. This isn’t going to be like one of those years we have come to know in Western New York where the Bills flirt with being better than mediocre for half the year only to turn into the bumbling baffoons the rest of the time. This isn’t going to be one of those years where we have a late-season surge and “almost” make the playoffs “again”. The season is done, pack it in, but still make it to the tailgate party because if Buffalo fans know how to do anything, it’s to have a killer, kick-ass party.
So with formalities out of the way, let’s delve into what some of you are thinking is a stupid and assanine statement – the EJ Manuel injury might be a blessing in disguise.
Packing it in:
I’m sure you would agree that with EJ’s injury, we can all but pack in any chances of making the post-season – right? So, if we can acknowledge that, and the administration can understand that (though they wouldn’t admit to it this early – that’s not the point), then we can move on. There is a lot to be said for realizing one’s limitations.
With no serviceable NFL calibre starting quarterback (perhaps the closest being Ricky Ray of the Toronto Argos of the CFL – not suggesting that solution by the way) the team is just not going to put together a string of success. In fact, I would be surprised if they can string many completed passes together. Sounds pessimistic, but it’s true if you’ve watched Jeff Tuel last Thursday or Thad Lewis when he’s played in the past. It’s stab-me-in-the-eye-with-a-blunt-pin-soaked-in-peroxide painful.
By packing it in, we can look to the future – yes, this means we’re rebuilding. Still.
The thing is the Bills really could use another high draft pick this year, but if it came at the expense of a struggling E.J. Manuel then we would have major question marks remaining at the most important position on the field. In Manuel we’ve seen a QB with potential and a guy who could grow into a possible solution at that position for Buffalo. Now if he is out for 6 weeks and we lose 4 or 5 games in that time, we don’t have to worry that the losses are as a result of our QB not developing properly.
Letting the Byrd Fly:
When asked about potentially trading SS Jairus Byrd, who clearly is at odds with pretty much everyone in Western New York, Bills CEO Russ Brandon had this to say: “I don’t know where these reports come from. It’s no different than what we talked about before. Our focus is getting JB back on the field and hopefully that will be this week. We are not actively seeking a deal. It’s not a topic of conversation in our building.”
For the love of everything that is pure and holy, don’t feed us that nonsense. Either a) you’re stupid for wanting to keep him in a place that is clearly not working out as expected, or b) you think we’re all semi-conscious Lemmings. Which is it?
By trading Byrd for a couple/few draft picks, holes can be patched. The deadline is October 29 by the way – tick-tock, tick-tock…
Finding a Corner:
Yes, we have Stephon Gilmore. And yes, Stephon Gilmore has excellent cover skills when he’s not hurt. I know he’ll be back, but the point is that the position is a weak one. Not only do we not have suitable replacements when starters go down, but should be crying for a good #2. Having a great cover guy is essential – as essential as almost any position on the field save a quarterback perhaps. But, what’s the point in having a shut-down guy if the quarterback has only to look to the other side of the field have have a wet noodle covering his second best target? Ugh, the insanity. I don’t dislike Leodis to be clear. Having 6 years under his belt is always a great thing to have, especially if we’re going to be using some of these Byrd draft picks on defensive players.
Finding someone to block for whoever is behind center:
Three-fifths of the line has been good. We knew what we were getting with Eric Wood – he is one of the better centers in football. Add to him Tackle Erik Pears and things are looking good. Even Right Guard Kraig Urbik and you have the makings of a decent line. This is where things get a little thin. So with a center, a tackle and a guard looking promising, we’re short two. Cordy Glenn is serviceable enough for me, especially considering we got him at a good place in the draft. At 24, let’s give him some time. So, we’re still one guard short.
So, with our picks we found available via Byrd flying the coop, let’s go get us a stud – or at least a 2nd-4th rounder.
Lower Priority Issues: More depth at Linebacker, TE, back-up QB.
While certain issues are bigger than others, the Bills still have a lot of holes to fill and loading up on draft picks can help. Maybe we can steal another Kiko Alonso, Robert Woods or Cordy Glenn quality player in the second round.
Linebacker: As an aside, I’ve never found the right spot to mention this, but I’m disappointed we couldn’t use Kelvin Sheppard better. I absolutely hated that he played in Baton Rouge, but even I was excited for him patrolling behind the line. Anyway, yes, we could certainly use a some depth at linebacker. Having a good defensive line is only going to get you so far when you can’t round out the front 7 with quality. Kiko Alonso is a stud, and Nigel Bradham has looked good. Mario Willliams is having a monster year, and I like Manny Lawson, but I’d like a little more depth here. With the move to a 3-4 this year, its a work in progress to add that depth.
Quarterback: Can we draft about 5 quarterbacks? Please? What a year. EJ going down is a kick in the nuts, and Chad Tuel and Thad Lewis might, might get a call-up to my Saturday afternoon touch league team – if they promise not to make stupid decisions. I hate being hard on them – it’s not their fault this is happening. I was going to post their stats by the way, but there’s only so much of this B.S. we can take. Note to Bills webmaster: Please remove all quarterback stats from anyone not named E.J. Thanks.
Tight End: What does any quarterback need who is going to be going through growing pains? A reliable tight end. This behemoth is not just good for saving one’s ass while 240 of pissed-off linebacker comes on a blitz, but he can also bail the QB out of many a tough jam. I don’t have an issue with Chandler, but let’s not leave this position to Lee Smith or, gulp, Chris Gragg.
In this way the EJ Manuel injury gives Buffalo the opportunity to move their draft pick a little higher, not just in the first round, but every subsequent round. And it also allows the Bills management to make the tough decision to trade Byrd and load up on even more picks, after all it doesn’t look like he wants to be in Buffalo long term. In that way, it may just be a blessing in disguise for the long term success of this football club. I know its tough to accept another losing, non-playoff year for the fanbase, but in the end, it might just be for the best.
You can follow me, @RoryHarbaugh on twitter for your NFL needs, and the follow the site @lastwordonsport while you are at it. Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.
Football fans…check out our two partnered NFL podcasts - Thursday Night Tailgate Radio and Overtime Ireland. Both shows bring you interesting commentary, critical analysis and fantastic guests including former and current NFL players, coaches and personalities.