The Buffalo Bills were riding high and circling the wagons (NOTE: I hate myself for that) after a 2-0 start to the season, but things have come back down to earth a bit after back-to-back defeats at the hands of San Diego and Houston have brought them back to .500. Now, it appears as though they’re gettin’ panicky!
Head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday that veteran Kyle Orton will lead the Bills into battle this week against the Lions instead of E.J. Manuel. Manuel, of course, was surprisingly drafted by Buffalo with the No. 9 overall pick in last year’s draft but has struggled as the team’s starter. So far this season, Manuel has completed 58 percent of his passes with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, though 2 of those picks came in Sunday’s 23-17 defeat in Houston. In Week 3’s loss to the Chargers, he also had a rather unremarkable intentional grounding penalty late in the game that resulted in a safety.
Marrone insisted that it was him making the decision to bench Manuel in favor of Orton, but that doesn’t really jive at all with the story that came out when Orton first joined the Bills. Buffalo (rather surprisingly) inked Orton to a two-year deal worth about $11 million ($2.5M guaranteed) just prior to the beginning of the season. This reportedly upset Marrone, who was apparently concerned that the signing would hurt the already-fragile confidence of Manuel, who had endured a rough preseason. For Marrone to suddenly flip and bench Manuel after just 4 games smells a bit fishy.
Nevertheless, the neckbeard is back! For fantasy purposes, this probably means you can expect better numbers out of rookie wideout Sammy Watkins, who, outside of a stellar performance in Week 2, has been largely ineffective thus far. I’m hesitant to say this boosts any of the other Bills receivers much, considering this is freaking Kyle Orton we’re talking about, but we’ll see. As you may know, the Lions boast one of the NFL’s toughest defenses.