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Bills use byzantine stat to put EJ Manuel in select QB company

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 -- 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.


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 |