Eric Wood made an appearance on the Nick & Nolan Show and shared some audioof a conversation he had with EJ Manuel in March from his own podcast , What’s Next with Eric Wood. In that conversation, they both discussed the importance of providing a veteran presence in the QB room for a young player’s development. Specifically, Manuel brought up the dynamic he saw first hand as a backup to Patrick Mahomes while with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“[Mahomes] had a chance to learn,” said Manuel. “He had a chance to sit. He had a chance to watch how Alex came to meetings, how he talked to his teammates, how he addressed the coaches. How he said ‘hey I like this play, hey I don’t like this play’.”
Manuel went on.
“I feel like when young quarterbacks get that opportunity to learn from an older dude... When you have a guy who kind of takes him under his wing and doesn’t mind showing him the ropes a little bit, that goes a long way.”
Wood then asked Manuel how much he specifically thinks that lack of veteran leadership early on affected his career trajectory.
“Once [Kevin Kolb] got hurt, then I remember, okay now it’s me and Jeff Tuel, who I love, but we’re both rookies,” said Manuel. “We just have no experience. And then we got Nathaniel Hackett who had no experience in the NFL as being an offensive coordinator. Quarterback coach, we didn’t have one, so I guess Nate kind of encompassed that as well as the OC. And then you had coach Marrone who was a first-year NFL head coach. I look back at it, I’m not blaming anybody. I would never [blame them]. ... As far as when I looked at my other friends who were rookie quarterbacks, like Derek Carr and Pat Mahomes, other guys that had that infrastructure kind of there to help them grow; I didn’t have that. ... It definitely hurt the trajectory.”
Manuel added how injuries didn’t help his situation either, specifically when he tore his meniscus in the preseason.
Wood chimed in with his own perspective on the ideal backup QB situation for a team with a young QB at the helm.
“A great backup quarterback in the NFL is a guy who takes his role as the backup and he wants to do everything he can to help that starter,” said Wood.
In a followup interview about the conversation, Eric Wood specifically addressed the the current backup QB situation for the Buffalo Bills with Josh Allen and Matt Barkley.
“Josh and Matt Barkley have a great relationship,” noted Wood, who is now the color analyst for the team’s radio call of games. “You can tell when Josh comes to the sideline he’s looking to Matt. Matt is giving him guidance. Matt is helping him with some pre or post-snap reads. And I think right now you’re happy with what you have in the quarterback room and the direction it’s heading in Buffalo with those two guys there. Because if Josh Allen can make the same progress in Year 2 to Year 3 the way he did from Year 1 to Year 2, you’re going to really like the product you see on the field this year.”
While both Manuel and Wood acknowledge there are many variables that contribute to a QB’s success or failure, including Manuel and Allen, it’s also obvious that the dynamic the 2020 Bills have with Barkley and Allen is far better than many possible alternatives.
You can follow me on Twitter @NickBat and look for episodes of “The Nick & Nolan Show” podcast on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network.