Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- One year into the EJ Manuel tenure of quarterbacking for the Buffalo Bills some believed they saw all they needed to see and were ready to move on. The decision makers at One Bills Drive were not among them.
Following the end to his rookie season, the first-round pick told reporters that head coach Doug Marrone informed him that he would be the starting quarterback heading into the 2014 season.
"I do know I'm the leader and the quarterback right now of this team," Manuel said, likely throwing water on the fire some have built for the Bills to consider drafting another young quarterback. "You know, with that being said, I'm going to continue to work hard."
Buffalo's first-year signal caller didn't have an ideal season by any means, but showed some flashes and promise at times throughout his inaugural campaign.
"I would say it's a great season to learn from. Obviously you're going to have ups and downs as a rookie, being a young guy in a new system and things like that," Manuel said, reflecting on 2013. "For me, I'm just looking forward to the 2014 season. Really just honing in on all the things I did well and just trying to fix the things I did not do well."
General manager Doug Whaley gave his vote of confidence in the young quarterback as well.
"What I liked about him were the games when we needed him most in crunch situations, he gave us a chance to win. And that to me is a very high mark of a characteristic you look at for in a quarterback," he said. "Things he needs to improve on I think will come with time. You've got a young guy that's getting a lot of things thrown at him defensively, offensively, coming to be the savior of a franchise. So that's a lot of pressure on a guy. I think he's stood in front of all that pressure and performed admirably. Does he want to get better? Yes. We think he will get better. We know he will get better."
In his 10 starts, Manuel had a 4-6 record, throwing for 1,972 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. When tucking the ball to run, Manuel collected 186 yards, two touchdowns and fumbled the ball six times, losing three of them.
Often times being known as a bottom-line business, to most success in the NFL comes down to merely wins and losses. The young quarterback is still encouraged by how he got to his win-loss record.
"Even though the record is 4-6, my record as a starter from start to finish is 4-6, I think there is at least two or three games that we could have won. We put ourselves in position to win and we didn't," he said. "I'm always going to be positive with myself. I'm still a young guy, so, I know there's a lot more room for improvement and I expect to improve."
Despite some of the naysayers, Manuel believes he can become the quarterback the Bills were hoping for when they made him their top pick last April.
"I’m very certain. I’ve had some good games, and like I said there’s a lot I can take and build from," the rookie said. "I don’t really know who’s questioning things, but as far as me, I’m just continuing to get better. I’m just going to hone in and focus in on this offseason and get better."