Kent Dickerson asked Buffalo Bills fans this morning what they did to help the Bills beat the Chicago Bears in Week 1, that was different from their normal game day routine. I didn't change anything up on Sunday, but I did answer a question posed in my general direction by Marshall Faulk in the days prior to the game - that was a first - and it's time to do it again this week.
The easy answer here is "the Bills" - as in, all of them - but the easier answer is quarterback EJ Manuel.
To end their 14-season streak without making the playoffs, the Bills know that they are going to need to coax a consistent level of competence out of their second-year quarterback. In the Bills' 23-20 overtime triumph over the Bears, Manuel was efficient, completing 16-of-22 passes for 173 yards with a touchdown and an interception, adding another score and 19 yards on six runs.
Most importantly, Manuel kept the Bills' offense regular; the team ran for 193 yards on 33 carries, but they won't do that every week unless Manuel can continue to complement the heavy doses of run with chunk-yardage passing plays to keep defenses honest. His job won't get easier; the Bears won't have one of the NFL's better defenses this season, but the Miami Dolphins just might.