“I’m very excited to work with coach Downing,” Manuel told Buffalobills.com. “I have a previous history with him last year at the Senior Bowl.”
Last January Downing was the quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions and that staff coached the South Team at the Senior Bowl. Downing and Manuel spent the entire week together in practice, going over play calls and reviewing practice tape in preparation for the game. Manuel appreciated Downing’s guidance that week and it apparently helped a great deal as Buffalo’s eventual first-round draft choice won Senior Bowl MVP honors in the South Team victory.
Manuel said when coach Marrone and coach Hackett asked him for his thoughts on coach Downing he was quick to give them a positive review.
“I think he has a ton of talent and a lot of new edge to him as a coach,” said Manuel. “He’s a young guy as well, so I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Perhaps what Manuel appreciated most about Downing was how the former Lions quarterbacks coach maintained a correspondence with him long after Senior Bowl week had concluded.
“He kept in touch with me throughout the whole thing beyond the Senior Bowl,” said Manuel. “He checked in with me when I was going through the pre-draft process. When I saw him in the preseason last summer when we played Detroit we talked again and I’m excited he’s on our staff.”
Manuel sees the obvious benefit of having a designated position coach going into the 2014 season. He naturally intends to maintain a close working relationship with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, but he feels having coach Downing on board will enhance his chances to succeed on the field.
“I didn’t have a veteran guy to really watch and learn from last year so coach Downing will be that guy for me,” he said. “He’ll be an extension of coach Hackett. Obviously coach Hackett is still going to be my coach, but having coach Downing on the staff is going to help me out a lot.”