A lot has transpired since my last post. One of the hardest things for me to do is to follow the Buffalo Bills after a loss; I go in to hibernation mode in defeat; like many of you. My wife calls it a sports depression; I call it the Bills Hangover.
Many of you know what that looks like. No sports radio, no ESPN, no anything involving football. That is why I commend Brian, Matt, and the others for coming on here and pushing out article after article. I don't have the stomach for it. As you can see, it took me this long to even show my face.
One event I couldn't avoid in the two-week Hangover period: the notification that popped up on my phone announcing the benching of EJ Manuel.
Like many of us do, I took to Twitter to voice my opinion. I had all sorts of emotions running through me at the time - emotions that should've been dealt with immediately after the game. I tweeted some things perhaps I shouldn't have, and I probably should've listened to Herm Edwards: "think before you press send." However, I moved on, checked my feelings, and am now prepared to give you an opinion piece, vintage Morning Joe style.
First off, it's important to note that when the writers on this site do opinion pieces, it does not reflect the opinions of all that frequent the site. Many times I have read in the comments that some of you feel if a writer has an opinion, that someone how their opinion speaks for the entire Buffalo Rumblings community. This can't be any further from the truth. We all have our own opinions, and when we state them, we only speak for ourselves.
When Brian posted his opinion on the Manuel benching earlier in the week, I was in agreement that it was one of his best articles; however I personally didn't agree we some of his points.
I've gone on the record and said that I was never a big fan of Manuel while he was in college, nor was I a fan of the pick. However, I was on board with the decision, because this regime sold me on the belief that this quarterback needed to be developed, and it would take three years for his development. From that press conference on, I was willing to give Manuel a chance. 18 months and 14 starts later, the three-year plan that we all were sold on was cut short prematurely.
I was sold on a vision. I was sold on a plan. I was sold that the men that were in charge that had 50-60 years of combined scouting and managerial experience, knew exactly what they were going to do, where they were going, and how they were going to get there. If they believed that this was the best way to go, I believed them to be right.
I believe the benching of Manuel is bigger than what happened on the field on Sunday. His benching points to a larger problem. His benching validates the reports that were coming out of camp about dissension amongst the coaches and management. Management feels one way about the players and the best path forward, and the coach feels another. His benching proves that this staff is divided, and this coach is only concerned about saving his own kiester. This move was all about self-preservation, and not about what was best for the team. Manuel's benching illustrates that this coach and management are no longer paddling in the same direction. Instead of staying the course, this coach jumped ship, grabbed the life preserver, and gave himself a shot at landing another job once he's fired from this one.
Unlike many, I didn't look at Manuel as the reason for the team's poor play. I looked at the decision-makers. They picked this coach, they picked this quarterback, they constructed this team, and this is their plan. Manuel is just a scapegoat for the team's struggles. If I were Doug Whaley, there would be no way that I let this coach systematically undo a plan that I believed in. Nor would I sit back and watch him do a press conference where he says everyone is in agreement with his decision. The last time I checked, the phrase "all in" means that you're committed.
Lastly, I can never understand why fans will be on board with benching a developmental quarterback after 14 starts. I also don't understand why any fan would be on board with benching a quarterback who has his team at the top of the division, and is responsible for six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) and three interceptions. I get it that his numbers aren't all that great, but he did what he was asked to do from a game planning standpoint. He is a first-round pick, gifted with physical tools, and more importantly a guy that can be the face of a franchise.
I witnessed the last three Bills quarterbacks get chance after chance. J.P. Losman was given 42 games, Trent Edwards 37, and Ryan Fitzpatrick 55. None reached the postseason or made any Pro Bowls while in Buffalo, yet were given more chances than Manuel. Some fans were clamoring for Manuel's job after 10 starts and four preseason games. I don't know why. Maybe you can help me understand that. Ron from NM posed a great question in his FanPost on the subject:
Would he have gotten benched if he'd led the team back at the end? Has any quarterback with a 3-1 record been benched?
I don't know Ron, but by the looks of it, Manuel had no shot. Doug Marrone bailed on him, and many fans gave up on him before he even had a chance to prove what he was worth.
Manuel was like that boxer you see who gets knocked down in a fight, and instead of his corner giving him an opportunity to get back up and fight, they threw in the towel instead.