EJ Manuel: "I'm still learning"

Posted Dec 11, 2013

The Bills quarterback talks about rebounding after last's week game and facing the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road.

QB EJ Manuel

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Q: What was your takeaway as you sat and watched the game film from Sunday?

A: It was disappointing. I was obviously disappointed after the game, but when I watched it on film, I did some uncharacteristic things. Forcing the ball, a read on one of the interceptions where I could have just moved up in the pocket and taken off and ran. Another where I just kind of didn’t really see Stevie coming open, I just kind of trusted my third step and got the ball out of my hand and he wasn’t there. He got mugged up and that’s when the guy came back and caught the ball. Beside the turnovers, I think there still was some good in the tape. Things that we can build upon, but nonetheless, not to score a touchdown and to only get two field goals throughout the whole game, that’s extremely disappointing as a quarterback of this team. We have to do tremendously better this Sunday.

Q: Coach Marrone said that he might have to not give you as much (in the playbook). Do you think that’s necessary?

A: I don’t think that’s necessary, but just depending upon what defense we go against, I know Tampa did a lot of different things as far as what they do (with) the Tampa two, the cover two. We haven’t really faced that a lot this season, but that’s not an excuse, you have to be able to adjust. This is the NFL and defenses are going to throw different things at you, so it’s just a part of my maturation, just getting used to defenses being totally different every Sunday. I’m not going to make the excuse saying just because they were a little different, that’s why I threw four interceptions or that’s why we didn’t score any touchdowns. I just really have to bite the bullet on this one and just move forward to this next game.

Q: The game aside, do you feel week to week that you are making progress?

A: I do, and it may not show when you have a performance like that, but I think in the big picture of everything, I’m still learning how to prepare for a game every Sunday, how to prepare for the nuances between each defense, and just how to get your body right when you’re playing down south when you’re playing up north, whether it’s going to be a cold or a hot game and hydration, so it’s a lot. It’s everything that goes into getting ready to play a football game, and as a professional, so I just have to continue to chip in and chip away at it.

Q: As a team, can you talk about the importance of a strong finish now to sort of verify that there has been progress?
A: Definitely. That’s our main goal right now, and we’ll kind of see where things end up at the end of the season, but if we could finish with these three wins I think that would give us a great taste going into January and going into OTAs in the spring, so that’s our main goal.

Q: When you see a team like Tampa playing cover two and man under, what do you do to attack that kind of defense?
A: Well I think the biggest key is to take off and run. A lot of times when they have two deep safeties and they’re playing man under, the quarterback is really the catalyst to break that thing, so instead of trying to sit in the pocket and try to, I guess pinpoint defenses apart, sometimes just using my natural ability. And like I said in the first, one of those interceptions I could have just taken off and gotten 10 or 12 yards and gotten down, so I just have to learn from it, bite the bullet and move forward.

Q: What are your thoughts on Stevie and just how are you and him are synched up?
A: My thoughts of Stevie is (he’s) a very versatile receiver. First off, he’s a guy who you can rely on to get open; he’s a guy who’s going to make the huge catch for you. And that’s what we’ve been getting from Stevie. In that past game, he made a great catch down in the seam, a very tight catch, I think there were two or three guys right on him. He caught it and almost scored, but Scott had gotten in his way or something like that, but those are the things that Stevie brings to the table for us as an offense. We want to continue to amp him up and get him as many touches as possible.

Q: What about his personality? He takes a lot of heat too. How do you see him as that kind of a person?
A: I think we all take some heat. Especially with the way our season is going and has gone this far, so I think Stevie does a great job with it. Not allowing the outside pressures, the outside things that people are saying about him, whether it’s positive or negative, let that fluctuate how he plays on Sundays. I think that’s just a part of him being a professional. He’s a veteran in what we do as a team, and he’s one of the guys we look for in our offense to make big plays for us.

Q: How confident are you that you guys can grow given one more offseason?

A: Oh yeah, we can definitely grow. First off, having a true offseason. As rookies, myself, Woody, Marquise, Kiko all of us as rookies, we really want to finish this thing strong because we know we’re going to make a huge push in the offseason. But we really need to hone in on these three games right here and show that we can make some more progress towards the end of the season.

Q: I mean you, specifically you and Stevie…

A: Yeah, I think we’ll have plenty of time to be able to work out together and definitely be on the same page as far as throwing the ball. Yeah, that’s a given. As a quarterback to a receiver, you’re going to have that relationship definitely in the offseason.

Q: Any thoughts on Jacksonville’s defense? How would you characterize them?
A: (They’re) a very good defense. These past I think five games, they’ve flown around, and I want to say they’re 4-1 in the past five. They’ve done a good job stopping offenses, flying around. They have some young guys in the secondary, but you can tell they’ve gotten better throughout the year. I think it’s going to be a very good matchup for us, and we really need this game though. I think it’s very adamant for me to definitely be prepared to know exactly what they’re going to do on defense, and if they throw in some wrinkles, be able to adjust to that. I’m really looking forward to getting another game under my belt and kind of flush this one away.

Q: What do you think is the biggest hurdle for you to jump coming down these last three weeks?
A: Just to finish. I think that’s always the way you want to go into a season, whether we were looking forward to the playoffs, or whether we’re just finishing these last three games out, you need to finish the season strong because you’re moving forward into another season after that. I think that’s the biggest thing for me, but to be specific, I think it’s just winning games. Especially these last two I think we have on the road, in Jacksonville and in New England, so to obviously show that we can win on the road, show that I can win on the road as the quarterback for this team, and not let those outside forces, as far as the crowd or anything, get me flustered or anything like that and just go out and make plays like I would here in Buffalo.

Q: How fine is that line of being aggressive and pushing the ball down field but then learning to take what they give you?
A: I think it’s just a matter of understanding when it’s time to do it and when it’s time not to do it. Say if you’re on the 30 and you’re in field goal range right there, there’s no reason necessarily to force something down and get a turnover when you already have three points. If you can get a first down, you’ll get even closer to getting a touchdown, so I think it’s just understanding the situations of each play within the game.

Q: How far are you in that process of taking ownership of the offense?
A: I don’t really know how to grade it to tell you an answer, but I think I’m very in depth with the offense. I meet a lot with Coach Hackett after practice, and I think that helps me to really get an understanding of what he wants when he calls a certain play versus certain coverage. That’s the biggest thing, I’m an extension of the offensive coordinator out there on the field. I’m just a guy who makes the plays and facilitates the ball to guys, but he’s calling the plays, so if he and I are on the same page, that’s going to help me out a lot more, and I won’t have to think as much, just go out there and let it rip and make plays.

Q: Right now, are you just leasing it, just sort of trying it out before you can have full ownership of it?
A: Yeah just truly amp it up? I think that’s going to come as I continue to grow within the offense. You want to advance that as fast as possible, but I’ve shown what I can do in a game like the Jets, then you have a game like I did on Sunday this past Sunday, so you have to combat it and continue to play. It’s going to happen, so you just have to roll with the punches.