By Tim Graham
The NFL Network's "32 in 32" series recently reached the Buffalo Bills and broke down the biggest plotlines on either side of the ball.
Analysts Darren Sharper and Daniel Jeremiah agreed on both counts: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel could be a liability in 2013, but Buffalo's defense should be significantly improved under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl safety for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, proclaimed the Bills would be better off with Kevin Kolb running the offense.
"It's a difficult challenge because he's playing with young guys around him," Sharper said of Manuel. "That's why you want to put Kevin Kolb out there to provide a little bit of that veteran leadership to kind of guide these young receivers.
"If you put a whole bunch of young bucks out there, there are going to be a lot of bad things happening, and this Buffalo Bills team does not need that."
Jeremiah, a former NFL scout, had Manuel rated as a third-round prospect in a weak QB class. The Bills made Manuel the 16th overall selection and the first quarterback taken in this year's draft.
But Jeremiah sounded eager to watch the Bills' defense live up to the expectations of a year ago.
"They look good on paper," Jeremiah said. "You look at them individually, they have a lot of talent on that defense. The biggest acquisition, though, is going to be Mike Pettine, the defensive coordinator. Coming over from the Jets, a Rex Ryan disciple, he's going to be very aggressive.
"We won't see that static look we saw on tape last year. This team is going to blitz getting off the bus, and that's going to give them a lot of energy, and it's going to get them going a little bit on defense, maybe take some of the pressure off of whoever is playing quarterback for this team."
taggedEJ Manuel | Kevin Kolb | Mike Pettine | Rex Ryan