By Tim Graham
Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel is coming off a shabby performance. He said he wasn't rusty.
So apparently he just didn't have what it took Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that surrendered 55 points a week earlier.
Bills observers wonder if Manuel has what it takes. But Bills coach Doug Marrone has been adamant Manuel will be a good NFL quarterback. The team's media staff this week has compared Manuel with Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton.
There seems to be a concerted effort to make sure the club rallies around Manuel.
Marrone had a favorable Manuel stat ready for today's news conference at One Bills Drive.
"To put things in perspective," Marrone said, "and I think it's important, and everyone knows he's our starting quarterback and there's no problem there ... But when you look at quarterbacks with five starts and you go back to 2000 with all the young quarterbacks, he has the third-best rating out of all those quarterbacks."
This is true, albeit convoluted and not all that relevant.
Among quarterbacks who threw at least 150 passes through their first five starts in Weeks One through Five, Manuel's 79.4 passer rating is third to Newton's 84.3 and New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith's 80.3 from the 2000 season onward.
This would not include any quarterback such as Ben Roethlisberger, who didn't start as a rookie on opening day, let alone any quarterback such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, who served as backups before taking over.
The others in Marrone's top 10 -- based on data from Pro-Football-Reference.com -- include Andy Dalton (78.7), Chris Weinke (74.0), Andrew Luck (72.0), Ryan Tannehill (70.4), Sam Bradford (66.5), Brandon Weeden (64.5) and Carson Palmer (59.6).
Manuel's three interceptions are fewest among the group, but his 150 attempts and 985 yards also were the fewest. His 56.7 completion percentage ranked sixth.
taggedEJ Manuel | Geno Smith