There are times when I sit down at the computer to crank out my daily articles for the site rarely do I find myself without anything to discuss. The National Hockey League Playoffs are in their second round series while the National Basketball Association is already into the conference finals. In case you missed it, the Bruins took a 2-0 lead over the Rangers while on the hardwood, the Spurs sent a very clear message to the Grizzlies with a blowout win in game one of the Western Conference Finals.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators are scoreless through one period up in Canada as I type.
There was one snippet from the weekend that caught my eye and it had to do with a league whose season is still a few months away. The National Football League is in the midst of what they call their “OTA’s” or Official Team Activities and for any organization the number one goal in these practices is to remain healthy first and foremost.
What caught my eye was a statement by the first round pick of the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback E.J. Manuel said in a radio interview from the rookie symposium that “The Bills offense is easier to learn than the one I had at Florida State.” On the surface, it’s rookie making an obscure comment but there really are no such comments in the sports world today.
The fact that the Bills took Manuel as high as they did already puts pressure on the organization and Manuel himself to produce soon. Toss in the fact that this class will no doubt be compared to the rookie quarterback class of last year, but the pressure to produce for long-suffering franchise will be immense. Personally I don’t think its’ fair for Manuel or any other QB to be compared to Andrew Luck, RGIII or Russell Wilson but such is the nature of today’s 24/7 NFL.
The issue I see with Manuel’s comment is that all he does by making it is open himself up to criticism should things not go so well for him. Remember, this was seen as a fairly risky pick by the QB-starved Bills because most of the top draft experts and gurus had Manuel going in the second, third or fourth round.
Obviously Manuel has tremendous physical skills and is potentially a big-time quarterback, but the red flags on Manuel go almost hand-in-hand with his comments. While physically gifted, Manuel made a lot of mental errors at Florida State which resulted in poor decisions and turnovers. If Manuel has some real poor games to open the season, assuming he is the starter of course ahead of Kevin Kolb, then this comment will surely come back to haunt him.
New Bills’ coach Doug Marrone will be in an interesting position with regard to his quarterback as the season nears. The Bills signed Kolb with the expectation that he would more than likely be the starter with whomever they would draft waiting in the wings. Of course many thought Marrone would draft his former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib but that wasn’t the case. Kolb of course comes off a brutal stay in Arizona where he was signed to a big contract following a good showing in Philadelphia.
My guess right now is that there will be a lot of pressure on Marrone to start Manuel and he will if the pre-season determines the two men to be even, but if he isn’t picking up things as well as claims to be, the Kevin Kolb era in Buffalo will be underway.