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Concerns About EJ, Disappointment with Marrone - 11/11/13

There has been a lot to be like about what Doug Marrone has done so far with the Bills franchise. But I did not like what I saw Sunday in Pittsburgh.  There have been reasons to be encouraged about what EJ Manuel could be someday for the Bills. Sunday in Pittsburgh was the first time I was discouraged. 

I have really like Marrone's approach of trying to change the mindset of the franchise from one that accepts losing to one that expects to win.  When you look at a 3-6 record heading into this game people that weren't paying attention could make the knee jerk answer of "same old Bills"  But if you watched you knew that was not the case. Sunday against the struggling Steelers, they were the same old Bills and Marrone contributed to the malaise. His decision to punt early in the 4th quarter on a 4th and 4 from the Pittsburgh 36 sent a message that his team was not ready to compete.  The excuse that he was playing the field position game rings hollow.  You are down by 2 touchdowns and are desperate for 7 points. Your struggling quarterback is in a 4th and very manageable 4 yards to go and needs to show he can make that play.  Sending Brian Moorman on to the field screamed "Dick Jauron" loudly to the fans (and maybe to some of the players also)

I know EJ Manuel had been off the field for a month, but on Sunday he played like a guy taking snaps in the NFL for the first time. Manuel was passive, indecisive and scattered in the pocket  He seems afraid to go through his progressions and look down the field. The one time he actually did take a shot deep he threw into triple coverage and the Steelers picked it off.  I stress that I will not judge Manuel long term based on one game, especially when he is coming off four weeks in the coaches box. But this is the first time long term concerns about EJ's ability to play well in the league have creeped into my mind

Marrone has been positive and upbeat this entire season, no matter how disappointing the losses  He needs to be that guy again now with six games left in what appears to be another losing season. He has veterans in that locker room that were convinced the losing would stop and he needs to keep them with the program He needs a more aggressive appraoch to the gamme like he showed in previous weeks   He also needs to take off the gloves a little with Manuel and get him to play with more passion and less patience  Yes the Bills used a first round pick on EJ and it would be stunning if they looked elsewhere next year in the draft. But we know the old saying is that NFL stands for "Not for Long"  More of the Manuel we saw Sunday will force them to look at all options. I am still convinced Marrone is the man to get that done. I am in need of a lot more convincing from  Manuel that he is the guy too

Mike Catalana


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