Bills: will quarterback switch result in more wins?
After a 2-0 start to the season, the Buffalo Bills slumped to successive losses; the play of quarterback E.J. Manuel, who graded out at -10.2 across the two defeats, was a major contributing factor to those performances. Even so, it came as a surprise when Bills head coach Doug Marrone opted to drop the inexperienced Manuel in favor of Kyle Orton.
Manuel has struggled throughout his fourteen games as starter, his -28.7 grade since entering the league is the second worst by any quarterback in that period. Last season Manuel had a 77.51 PFF QB rating, 29th among quarterbacks who attempted more than 250 passes, and recorded a 68.4 Accuracy Percentage which dropped to 59.4% when Passing Under Pressure. This season Manuel has graded worse in those same stats, with a 74.6 PFF QB Rating and a 68.0 % accuracy which drops to 45.9% when pressured.
Orton has played sporadically over the past three seasons, for a fair comparison it’s necessary to look at 2010, when Orton started 13 games for the Denver Broncos with a -5.2 overall grade. His career best 83.7 PFF QB rating ranked 17th among qualifying quarterbacks in 2010, while his 67.2 Accuracy Percentage, which dropped to 60.7% under pressure was similar to the numbers produced by Manuel.
Orton has more experience than Manuel at understanding NFL defenses. However there is little about his accuracy, or his career touchdown to interception ratio of 1.41 (Manuel’s is 1.33), to suggest that he is capable of taking this Bills offense to a much a higher level than Manuel; perhaps the Bills have simply lost faith in Manuel as their quarterback of the future.