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(Photo: Joed Viera/Syracuse.com)
The Outkick NFL Past Preseason Hype Series will consist of separate posts that examine preseason hype generated by a specific player, coach, or team based on a single performance or a collection of performances during the NFL preseason (Check out previous posts: Jake Delhomme 2010 and 2008 Detroit Lions)
EJ Manuel faced an uphill battle the moment he was drafted. When the Buffalo Bills picked the Florida State quarterback 16th overall in the 2013 draft, it was deemed a reach by the majority of pundits and experts and did not sit well with some of the fans. The Bills, who haven’t had many competent quarterbacks since Jim Kelly retired in 1996, went out on a limb and Manuel had work to do to sway the public’s opinion about him in his favor.
In the first game of the preseason, a 44-20 win over the Colts in Indianapolis, Manuel gave people something to talk about. He played the entire first half, going 16-of-21 with 107 yards and a touchdown. On his final drive, during which most of the Bills starters were playing against the Colts backups, Manuel went 9-for-10 for 68 yards and a touchdown. Here’s some chatter from during and after the game:
— Carley McCord (@CarleyMcCord) August 11, 2013
EJ Manuel led the Bills on 68 yard drive for a TD before the half. Went 9-9 running the 2-minute drive. STUD. #TheFuture
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) August 11, 2013
Warren Sapp: That 2 minute drill should convince vets that EJ Manuel may just be the one.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) August 11, 2013
Manuel continued to impress in the next preseason game against the Vikings, where he went 10-of-12 for 92 yards and a touchdown in three series during another Bills win. Some more chatter:
If EJ Manuel isn't named the starter tomorrow morning…I don't know what the hell Doug Marrone is doing.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 17, 2013
EJ Manuel lookin like this years Russell Wilson.. #NFL
— LaMonica Garrett (@lamonicagarrett) August 17, 2013
Warren Sapp on NFL Network: EJ Manuel has command and control of this offense like no rookie I've seen.
— Natalie Pierre (@NataliePierre_) August 17, 2013
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) August 17, 2013
EJ Manuel #nuffsaid
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 17, 2013
Unfortunately, Manuel injured his knee against Minnesota and had to sit out the rest of the preseason. He finished the preseason on a high note, and won the starting job over Kevin Kolb, whom the Bills signed in the offseason. Manuel started the first five games of the 2013 season, leading the Bills to a 2-3 record, and showed some positive flashes, including a great fourth quarter comeback win over the Panthers in Week 2. However, a knee injury in early October, sidelined him for five weeks. In 2014, he was benched after the fourth game and never won his starting job back. By 2016, he rarely played and was not re-signed. Manuel is currently the backup quarterback for the Raiders.
Fred Segal is an attorney from West Palm Beach, FL. He operates the popular Freezing Cold Takes twitter account (@OldTakesExposed) which highlights, among other things, hilarious unprophetic and inaccurate takes and predictions.