Bills coach Doug Marrone has raved about rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. Still, Manuel will be handed nothing in his first NFL season.
G.M. Doug Whaley recently joined PFT Live to discuss, among other things, whether the starting job is Manuel’s to win, or Manuel’s to lose. Whaley emphasized that the best man will play.
“I think what we decided, and I think [Marrone] promotes it, is competition
throughout the whole team,” Whaley said. “And I will throw in those three guys in there and see the competition makes everybody rise to the occasion and whoever takes the bull by the horns and wins the job that will be our guy and we will rally behind him and go into the season and expect for the best.”
Whaley said the team feels no pressure to give Manuel the job, based on his arrival via the 16th pick in the draft.
“I think what we’re going to do is, we’re going to do what’s right and necessary
to accomplish our goal,” Whaley said. “And if EJ is the guy, we’re going with EJ. If it’s Kevin Kolb, it’s Kevin Kolb. Or Tarvaris Jackson. I think once you start putting undue pressure on people then expectations are risen and I think it hampers the
ability of the player to achieve his utmost ability.”
In our view, even if a team plans to install a first-round quarterback as the starter, there’s value in making the rookie believe he won the job. Overcoming a pair of veterans gives the rookie a little extra confidence entering the season, and confidence could be the difference.
But it’s also important that the rookie not look over his shoulder. A competition that lasts too long implies that it was close, which could make the rookie think he’s on a short leash.
Thus, in our view, it’s Manuel’s job to lose. With the five-year plan yielding at some point to a three-year plan and then giving way at some point to a win-now-or-risk-getting-fired plan, anyone who picks a quarterback in round one needs to be ready to use him. Otherwise, the team should have picked someone else.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!