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Sunday, December 8, 2013
Bills may 'cut down' offense for EJ Manuel


TAMPA, Fla. -- It's time to take a step back.

That was the message from Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone after rookie quarterback EJ Manuel had his worst outing of the season Sunday, throwing four interceptions in a 27-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I think we've been giving him more and more. Now it's a point of where you have to re-evaluate that. He's been going fast with his progression and now we just have to look at it and get him started again," Marrone said. "It's not starting over -- don't get me wrong -- [but] we've got to look to see what we can do and probably cut down what we're doing."

Buffalo's EJ Manuel
EJ Manuel struggled against the Bucs, throwing four interceptions while taking seven sacks.
It's been an up-and-down season for Manuel, characteristic of most rookie passers, but his performance away from Ralph Wilson Stadium has been consistently poor.

Manuel is 0-5 in games played outside of Buffalo, while his completion percentage dips from 65 percent at Ralph Wilson Stadium to 53 percent at other venues. However, the 16th overall pick in April's draft downplayed location as a factor after Sunday's game.

"I'm not going to say because I'm not at the Ralph I played bad, or because we're on the road [I] played bad," he said. "Just didn't do well today. Very, very, very frustrating for me. But it's still a learning curve and just have to move on."

The Buccaneers sacked Manuel seven times Sunday, but that still wasn't the most the rookie was taken down this season. The New York Jets sacked him eight times in Week 3.

"We didn't do a very good job up front at times," coach Doug Marrone said. "You saw us having to escape the pocket. I think that's very difficult."

Center Eric Wood, however, was defensive about his unit's performance after the game.

"Bad, but you show me any offensive line that played good when you're down 21 points in the second quarter," he said. "I'd love to see it."

A reporter later followed-up, asking if Wood thought an offensive line couldn't play well, down three touchdowns.

"It's pretty tough," Wood responded. "You let a talented dffensive line tee off on you, play after play, they're going to get home. You have to be able to ... if you're not close, and you gotta do obvious passing downs -- first, second, third down -- they're gonna get home. That's how it generally works."

To Wood's point, a big part of the problem for the Bills' offense was their inability to keep second and third downs at manageable distances, a result of an ineffective running game that gained 67 yards on 22 carries.

What wasn't the problem, Wood noted, was crowd noise. It was hardly a hostile environment for Manuel and his offensive line.

"Crowd wasn't a factor today," Wood said. "Shoot, you couldn't tell who made a good play, there was so many Bills fans down here."