It was a meeting that lasted almost five hours during EJ Manuel's pre-draft visit at One Bills Drive on April 2nd. He had a full blown offensive session with the Bills brass including offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett that eventually ran over into dinner. That meeting, in which he and Hackett talked X's and O's, convinced Manuel that he would be a fit for Buffalo's offense.
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"I had a really good feel when I came up and met with Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett and Mr. Nix and Mr. Whaley and we had great conversations," said Manuel. "I think I picked up the offense that he taught me and I think we met for four or five hours and I think they see I fit best into what they want to do."
"It was probably about six (hours) before dinner," said Hackett. "I try to do it with every quarterback and try to get a feel for all of them and how they communicate with me. I think it's important to have a relationship between the coach and the player. We got started around noon and ended up going later than six o'clock because dinner was at six-thirty and I ended up having to drive him to dinner. So we ended up talking all the way to dinner too."
Marrone and Hackett have been clear in describing their offensive system as a multiple attack, which will look complicated to opponents but something that any quarterback could run provided he has a good head on his shoulders.
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"You could tell he was very excited," said Hackett of Manuel. "I think that compared to what he's done the past five years, which has been very successful for him, I think the way that we do things and the way this whole system is developed around the quarterback and it's about him becoming successful while still trying to be complicated and diverse and multiple."
"That's what I'm so excited about the multiples of this offense and it's definitely a new type of offense. It's an innovative offense," said Manuel. "It's something I'm excited to work into and learn. I feel like Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson and myself we're all at square one right now. It's a brand new offense with a brand new staff. So I'm looking forward to getting in there and competing."
Manuel also appreciated the talk he had with Hackett on the way to dinner in the car that wasn't about football.
"We had a long talk and it was more just about the off the field things. I think he was giving me a lot of wisdom moving forward and I thought, 'Hey he actually wants me to have success whether I'm in Buffalo or not.' I really respect him for that," said Manuel. "It was the same with Coach Marrone too, but that kind of stuck with me and I was hoping Buffalo was going to take me in the draft."
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Now that they have Manuel is just ready to get to work on making Buffalo's offensive system his own.
"I think the sky is the limit for what I can do on the football field and what I can continue to do as far as developing and becoming a professional quarterback," he said. "I feel that's why the Buffalo Bills drafted me where they did and I'm looking forward to getting to work with Coach Hackett."