EJ Manuel’s last start for the Bills came 14 months ago in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was a game to forget for the quarterback.
In the span of four minutes, and on three consecutive series, Manuel had a fumble returned for a touchdown, threw a pick six, and had another interception lead to a Jags TD, as Jacksonville opened up a 27-3 lead.
Buffalo rallied but ultimately went onto lose 34-31.
The only action the former first rounder normally sees on game days are usually on 3rd or 4th and short situations, where he tries to pull the defense offside with a hard count, or execute a quarterback sneak.
He’s completed two passes for 45 yards, and fumbled once.
But, with the Tyrod Taylor benched by the front office to protect themselves from the QB’s injury clause, Manuel will lead the Bills on the field in the season finale on Sunday against the New York Jets
“I think coverage recognition is probably, night-and-day, much better,” Manuel told reporters on Wednesday.
“That’s an area where I needed to grow a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. Going against our first team defense every single day for the last fifteen, sixteen weeks has really helped me out tremendously.”
Manuel’s struggles are well documented.
Since being thrust into the starting role his rookie year, his inability to go through progressions along with inaccuracy have plagued him.
Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium could be his last in a Bills uniform.
“I don’t think this one game is going to change a lot,” he said. “Obviously, people will go back and watch the tape and think like that, but you can’t base one game off of one opportunity. I understand the opportunity, I know it’s a big opportunity for me, and I’m excited about it.”
Selected 16th overall in the first round of the 2013 Draft, Manuel is just 12-16 as a starter with 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
He started the first 10 games of his rookie year before being sidelined due a knee injury against Cleveland.
In 2014, following a 2-2 start to the year, Manuel was benched in favor of veteran Kyle Orton, who helped guide the Bills to their first winning season in a decade and finish with a 9-7 overall record.
With a three man quarterback race heading into training camp in 2015, Manuel’s fall on the depth chart continued.
Taylor won the starting job and Matt Cassel was the back-up.
However, Manuel returned to the No. 2 role when General Manager Doug Whaley traded Cassel to the Cowboys two weeks into the season.
In May the Bills declined to pick up his fifth year option. He told reporters on Wednesday he hasn’t talked with Whaley, his loudest supporter in the front office, about his future or starting on Sunday.
“I just want to win,” Manuel said. “That’s the biggest thing. At the end of the day, everybody can play in this league. Everybody can throw. I think quarterbacks are based, or you’re judged, off of winning. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”