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Buffalo Bills' Doug Marrone: footwork root cause of EJ Manuel's struggles

Doug Marrone didn't need to watch the film to figure out why EJ Manuel struggled so badly in Buffalo's blowout loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Following yesterday's 23-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked about the struggles of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who had his worst game as a pro in his return to the starting lineup after a four-week absence with a knee injury.

Heading into the Bills' final possession of the game, trailing 23-3, Manuel had completed 11-of-25 passes for 79 yards with one interception, three sacks taken and a quarterback rating of 35.3. He ended up completing 11-of-14 passes for 76 yards with a touchdown on that final possession, elevating his rating nearly 30 points in garbage time, but the drive did nothing to erase the memories of a horrible performance for an angry and frustrated fan base.

Marrone's response was what you'd expect - he mentioned Manuel's youth, exacerbated by his two stretches out of the lineup with knee injuries, then continued to talk the first-round pick up as a long-term project - but was candid about one area of Manuel's game that is currently lacking.

"Really at the end of the day, if you want to know exactly what happened out there, he’s going through his footwork too quick and not as slowed down to see things develop as quick," Marrone said Sunday afternoon. "That happens to young quarterbacks."

Marrone was also quick to point out that at no point did he consider benching Manuel in favor of Thad Lewis, citing Manuel's need for as many reps as possible as his rationale. Manuel's next game comes at home against Rex Ryan and a New York Jets defense that forced him into 23 incompletions and sacked him eight times in a Week 3 loss. Things will not get easier for Buffalo's rookie quarterback for at least one more week.