Fred Jackson: ‘Manuel Can Be An Elite Quarterback’

On the one hand, the Buffalo Bills (8-6) are in a great spot. They’ve won three of four, they beat the Packers and they’re in contention for the final AFC Wild Card spot.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh (9-5) and Baltimore (9-5) have a better record than Buffalo, and Kansas City (8-6) and San Diego (8-6) own tiebreakers over the Bills.

How can Buffalo get in?

“Oh, man, I don’t even know,” Bills running back Fred Jackson said on Tiki and Tierney. “But I know the most important thing we’re focusing on is we got to continue to win. If we don’t win games, none of it maters. We just got to continue to take it a week at a time, and this week it’s Oakland. We get to travel out there. Those guys are going to be ready to play. If you look at their record on paper, it’s not one that jumps (out) at you, but they’re playing a lot better than (you think).”

Indeed, Oakland is 2-12, but both wins came at home. The Raiders have also lost five games by a touchdown or less.

Nevertheless, Buffalo is happy to still be in contention. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to play for at the end of the season.

“It’s what we compete for,” Jackson said. “You come out here to win games and to be able to still have an opportunity and be able to step on the field. You want to compete and win a game. We’re out there playing for each other. We know this business is about winning games, and if you’re not winning, everything has to be reevaluated. That goes for players and coaches. We’re out there showing we can compete with everybody and that we have a good team and that we like everything that’s in place right now.”

The Bills beat the Packers, 21-13, last Sunday, holding Aaron Rodgers without a touchdown.

“We’re doing better in all three phases,” Jackson said. “When you look last week, we didn’t put up the points we wanted to on offense, but our defense played tremendous, getting two interceptions from Aaron. We got a punt return for a touchdown. Anytime you do that, you give yourself a good chance to win a game. Our offense (did) just enough. When you play well in all three phases, which is something that we’ve been doing over the last three (or) four weeks, it gives you an opportunity to win those games.”

The Bills’ season has been especially remarkable given their uncertainty under center, as E.J. Manuel was benched in October in favor of Kyle Orton.

Will Manuel, who has 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career, ever be the guy in Buffalo?

“I believe so,” Jackson said. “I believe he has everything in his power to get to that level to be an elite quarterback, to take the reins of this team and get them over the hump. I watch him work every day. I see him talking to everybody on the coaching staff – even the defensive coaching staff – to pick their brains as to what it is that they’re trying to do to a quarterback. He’s a guy that’s hungry and thirsting for the knowledge to become an elite quarterback in this league.

“I think that’s one of the things you definitely have to have,” Jackson continued. “You have to want to put in that work to get to that next level because it’s not just going to happen. The way he continues to carry himself and is constantly paying attention on the practice field, he’s learning some great things from Kyle. Kyle’s a veteran quarterback that has been here or been around the league, so he’s got a chance to learn some stuff form him, and he’s definitely taking all that tutelage.”

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