Is EJ Manuel ready to be a competent enough starter for the Buffalo Bills to make the playoffs? Better question — has he even played enough for anyone to be able to form an absolute opinion on him?
Though Manuel’s entering his third season — an eternity in the NFL — he’s only played 13.5 games. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me tweet that fact on more than one occasion this offseason.
Because 13.5 games is short of a full rookie season, I wanted to see how Manuel stacked up statistically to other quarterbacks through their respective opening acts in the NFL.
Those who don’t like statistics, can always point to the phrase “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.” While I agree that numbers aren’t the “be all, end all” of any argument, to simply ignore them altogether seems to be foolish. Why discount any information when trying to learn about a certain topic?
For this study, I compiled the statistics from every rookie quarterback taken in Rounds 1 – 4 over the past decade who attempted at least 200 passes in his rookie season. (I did not include EJ’s rookie year in this chart.)
|Name||Completion %||TD %||INT %||Sack %||Yards Per Comp.|
|Robert Griffin III||65.6||5.1||1.3||7.1||12.4|
Let’s compare EJ’s NFL numbers to those averages:
|Completion %||TD %||INT %||Sack %||Yards Per Completion|
|EJ Manuel Career||58.6||3.7||2.7||7.2||11|
While every QB listed above was in a different situation as an NFL youngster, based on the numbers alone, it’s hard to argue that Manuel has been as awful as the widespread perception of him.
(Remember, Carr has already played more than Manuel. Bortles has played the same amount.)
For some further perspective on EJ’s career averages, Cam Newton connected on 58.5% of his passes, with a 4.0 TD percentage, 2.7 INT percentage, 11.9 yards per completion and 7.8 sack percentage in 2014.
Manuel’s currently entrenched in a quarterback battle with Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in training camp, and it’s fair that he has to win the job outright.
But if he does earn the starting gig, he certainly deserves more of an opportunity before we definitively label him a “bust” or “the guy” in Buffalo.