The NFL career of EJ Manuel has already had its share of twists and turns with a handful of moves up and down Buffalo's quarterback depth chart. On Thursday night there was another surprising change in course. Manuel was listed as one of the team's seven inactive players for the Bills game against the Jets Thursday night.
Josh Johnson, who was signed by the club on Oct. 14th, served as the backup to starter Tyrod Taylor in Week 10. Bills head coach Rex Ryan addressed the move after the Bills win over the Jets citing it as a one game switch.
"What happened was we had a short week and Josh (Johnson) knew the game plan going in and he played against this opponent before when he was in San Francisco and preparing all that plan so he knew that thing like the back of his hand," said Ryan. "He probably knew it better than Tyrod did and so that's the only reason. EJ Manuel is our backup quarterback and will be the rest of the way, but it was a short week and that's why we decided to go that route."
Johnson has a familiarity with offensive coordinator Greg Roman's playbook having operated in his offensive system in the 2012 and 2014 offseasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He also has some familiarity with the New York Jets after spending part of the 2015 preseason with the club.
Johnson, 29, has appeared in 29 games in his seven-year career including five starts.
This move comes less than three weeks after his last start for Buffalo in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor. Manuel had a disappointing first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars when he committed three turnovers in a four-minute span in the second quarter that resulted in 20 points for the Jaguars. Despite his best effort in the team's second half comeback it wasn't enough to pull out a victory.
Through training camp and the preseason Manuel had demonstrated personal improvement in his game with better accuracy and decision making. So much so that it led to the club trading veteran Matt Cassel to Dallas in exchange for a 2017 fifth-round draft choice. That moved Manuel up the depth chart from third quarterback to the backup.
Unfortunately Manuel's improved play in the preseason did not carry over to the regular season in the two starts he had to make in place of Taylor. Thus far Manuel has completed 62 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions and a passer rating of 78.5. Both games were losses for Buffalo.
Manuel is in the third year of his four-year rookie contract.