The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

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Beyoncé is going country
February 23, 2024

Connor’s Corner: Watkins shines despite quarterback controversy

Sammy Watkin’s tiptoe touchdown reception with only one second remaining gave the Buffalo Bills a much-needed victory Sunday and a sense of hope for the future amid a cloud of questionable decisions made by Bills management.

It was refreshing to see a move made in the draft actually translate to a win on Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y.  The trade up to the fourth overall pick was controversial and cost the Bills their 2015 first-round draft pick to Cleveland, but brought a game-changing talent to Western New York.

The bold move displayed a “win now” mentality that Bills fans have been longing for. The mentality also led to changes made by the Bills’ coaching staff and ownership.

EJ Manuel started the season 2-0, but was benched after two consecutive losses. Kyle Orton was named the starter in week five to give more stability to the quarterback position.

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Orton has delivered since he was given the reins of the offense. He has composed two fourth-quarter winning drives in three games as Buffalo’s offensive leader.

The coaching staff and ownership felt that it was necessary to make the change at quarterback to help secure their jobs at the end of the season, but they are hurting the long-term success of the team.

Buffalo’s management has done an absolutely dreadful job evaluating and drafting quarterbacks, and consequently that has led to restless fans awaiting the next Jim Kelly.

Bills ownership and fan base jumped the gun by putting Manuel on the bench. After allowing Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick to have multiple seasons to develop, it is easy to understand why Buffalo fans have become irritated. But it seems unfair to not allow the most physically gifted athlete of all the quarterbacks that Buffalo has claimed in the past decade to have a chance to grow at the position.

Orton is not the answer in Western New York. He is a temporary bandage that will manage games and try to limit mistakes in hopes that a dominating defense and a solid rushing attack can win games.

The only positive that came from the quarterback change is that Manuel hasn’t been taking the devastating blows that Orton has absorbed the past three weeks. The Bills are willing to let a youthful offensive line work through growing pains, but are quick to tighten the leash of a young gunslinger.

The Bills’ defense has been the main reason for Buffalo’s limited success. Buffalo’s defense ranks in the top five for rushing yards (80.4 yards per game) and top 10 in points allowed (20.3 points per game). It’s a shame that the dominating defensive effort is being wasted on a team with a struggling offense.

The Bills appear to be on their way to another mediocre season. They will be good enough to be in the mix for a wild card at the end of season, but don’t pose a threat in the playoffs. Mediocrity works in a cycle and leads to an average draft pick – in the second round for Buffalo in 2015.

Despite the overwhelming negativity of how football operations have been handled in Buffalo, it was an energizing experience to witness Watkins’ coming out party Sunday. The atmosphere at the Sondel football gathering on Sunday was exciting, and I can’t remember the last time that was the case watching the Bills.

Watkins will be in contention for offensive rookie of the year with Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin and has a chance to be the best wide receiver in Bills history.

Moving forward, coach Doug Marrone needs to name Manuel the starter to see what investment the Bills made – whether it be successful or not. The organization has stated that Manuel is the future of the Bills, but we need to find out what he is made of now.

CONNOR SONDEL

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