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Rich Gannon on EJ Manuel's start: 'That is what they need in Buffalo'

EJ Manuel and Geno Smith
Rich Gannon, who will work Sunday's game for CBS Sports, shared his thoughts on the Bills' EJ Manuel and the Jets' Geno Smith.

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills had their choice of any quarterback in this year's draft class.

They identified EJ Manuel as their man and were comfortable enough that nobody else would take him that they moved back in the draft order before taking him 16th overall.

Sunday at the Meadowlands, Manuel will duel the New York Jets rookie many draft analysts expected to be the first quarterback off the board, Geno Smith.

Rich Gannon will work Sunday's game for CBS Sports and shared his thoughts on both quarterbacks.

On EJ Manuel:

"Last year we got spoiled with some of the young rookie quarterbacks coming in and playing so well -- RGIII, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck. E.J. Manuel has handled himself well and in a difficult situation Week One against the Patriots and in a tough one against Carolina last week, but they found a way to pull it out.

"They've been patient with him in terms of the game plan. They've tried to scale it down and really focus in on things he does well. He is a guy that can make every throw and is a terror when he runs the ball because he's a lot faster than his frame would indicate.

"He's off to a terrific start. This is what they need in Buffalo: production and consistency at the quarterback position. He can handle the role of being the face of the franchise, which is amazing."

On Geno Smith:

"Is he really ready to play right now? The answer is, 'No,' but necessary with the Sanchez situation. He has his weaknesses and makes some poor throws, but he's very athletic and he gives the Jets a chance to win.

"You have to take the good with the bad with some of these young players. He has some play-making ability. He is mobile and going to force defenses to account for his duel-threat capabilities with his ability to run, particularly out on the edge. But he clearly has a ways to go to learn a very complicated system that Marty Mornhinweg is going to run in New York."


EJ Manuel | Geno Smith
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |