During Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone‘s conference call with media yesterday, one of the main topics was his decision to bench second-year quarterback EJ Manuel in favor of veteran journeyman Kyle Orton.
Here is what he had to say as provided by the Detroit Lions media relations department.
On why he chose to go with QB Kyle Orton over QB EJ Manuel: “Well, we just needed more production out of that position, but at the same time, it’s not all on him. We have to increase our production everywhere around him. It’s the best interest of the team and giving us the best opportunity to win.”
On being in first place and switching quarterbacks: “It’s such a short-term type of business. Our focus is on really, just like today, was let’s make sure we go out there and have a good practice and get ourselves ready and prepare ourselves for a very difficult game. We take it in that stride and as far out as we got, it’s really just a quarter of the season. We aren’t really good enough to look to see what is going on around us. We have to make sure that we’re focusing in on ourselves.”
On if he feels that there have been plays to be made with the skill players he has: “Well, obviously there’s been missed opportunities and I think that’s what you’re looking for from the standpoint of production. Again, it’s not one thing. The other positions have to pick it up too. It’s not all on him (Manuel).”
On what benching Manuel will do for his long-term development: “He’s been as good as you can, obviously, with the situation the way it is. He went out there today and he’s working his butt off. It gives him a chance now to sit back. I think obviously it’s a situation where you have to be hardened. Meaning that, people are going to doubt you and put you down. We don’t feel that way at all. We’re going to do everything we can to keep developing him into the player that we drafted. I think that a lot of that depends on how he reacts to these things.”
On if sometimes a young player needs to watch a little bit to help collect himself: “Absolutely. I can’t speak for every player, but I think that’s exactly what we needed. We just needed to take a breath and go watch it. He was thrown into the fire due to injuries and he suffered injuries, came back and obviously had a lot of pressure. We didn’t play as well around him as we could and those factors have factored in to the production. Now, he’s going to be able to take a chance to step back and be ready. He’s still one injury away from playing.”
The whole dynamic in Buffalo is interesting. With a change of ownership in process there could be sweeping changes so it would make sense for Marrone to have a sense of desperation to be able to show results.
It’s hard to believe this sudden benching is in the best interest of Manuel or the team, and even the notion that playing Orton will lead to more wins seems dubious. If Marrone’s move works, it’s hard to see how it benefits anyone in a meaningful way other than Marrone. Maybe it buys him another year or two but the long-term outlook remains bleak.