by Mario Granata
Although the general consensus has all but written off EJ Manuel, and the number of people who are coming to his defense are few and far between, there are multiple factors that played a role in the final outcome of the Buffalo Bills 34-31 defeat at the hands of the Jaguars in London this past Sunday. Let me just preface this by saying I don’t feel that EJ played a “good game”. He has many flaws in his young career from mechanics to decision-making, but as any young quarterback, he will have those and many others. Sure, it would be easy to blame him, but just like Hashtag Sports, we like to look at things from another point of view.
The Buffalo Bills travel across the pond to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Can the Bills bounce back from falling at the hands of the undefeated Bengals? Will this be the start of a tailspin for Buffalo? Will a win against the Jags boost their confidence going into the bye week?
These questions and many more will be answered on this week’s episode of Hashtag Sports.
By Paul Wanecski
Regardless of what any wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills has to say, opportunities in the passing game are few and far between. While it is not uncommon for players to mention that they aren’t involved in the offense the way that they would like, at some point those players need to see the forest through the trees. Most recently it was released that wide receiver Sammy Watkins had discussed with his agent the lack of targets he had received. Unfortunately for him, with the offense the way it is, Sammy might not see a huge increase in work any time soon.
The peripheral stats for quarterback Tyrod Taylor appear impressive. In only five games he has been able to maintain a quarterback rating of over 100, average over 8 yards per attempt (which is good enough to be tied for 9th in the league), and has lead the team to 124 total offensive points (ranked 8th best in the NFL). All of these numbers are well above expectation.
Watkins has been disappointed with how much he has touched the ball and that comes as no surprise. He, in three games, has yet to hit 100 yards receiving on the season, averaging a lean 4 targets per game. Perhaps Sammy hasn’t gotten the memo that the rest of the NFL certainly has at this point; the Buffalo Bills don’t throw the football. Currently, the Bills are ranked 27th in the league with 200.2 passing yards per game. Even with all the struggles the Bills have had with injuries, they are still ranked 7th best in rushing yards per game at 128. Clearly Watkins seems to be under the impression that the offense wants to throw the ball more. On average, the Bills are only pulling in 19.4 receptions per game, so Taylor doesn’t have a lot of love to spread around considering he is completing 70% of his pass attempts.
And that is the most interesting point about Watkins comments; he mentioned that in several years, these players (referring to Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel) could be franchise quarterbacks. In three years Taylor will be 30 years old and a free agent, as his contract will void the third year if he takes 50% of the team’s snaps this or next season. Manuel still has to have his option year exercised, which it appears is unlikely since that will put the team on the hook for over $12 million in salary for one year.
Had you told any member of the media prior to the season that a Bills quarterback would have 40 pass attempts per game, the first thing they would ask is “how much did they lose by?” The reality is this offense is built on passing the ball 25 times per game, depending on field position and clock management. They do not have a quarterback like Drew Brees (leading the league with receptions thrown, completing 35 per game) and it’s a good thing they aren’t under the illusion that they do. While players may grumble about involvement, if the team was 5-0, we wouldn’t be hearing this chatter.
The Buffalo Bills, coming off an ugly win against the Tennessee Titans will welcome the 5-0 Cincinnati Bengals to the friendly confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills have had to deal with the injury bug to some key players this season, so how do they overcome that and the Bengals to secure victory.
Ryan Lasal of Bills Fanatics will be joining the Hashtag Crew to give his take as well.
Check out the Preview of the Buffalo Bills vs New York Giants this Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium and the keys to victory for the Bills to be victorious.