Rex Ryan on 'ridiculous' Manuel criticism

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After EJ Manuel's rough afternoon in Sunday's 23-10 loss in Pittsburgh, it's a question worth examining: Should the Bills consider Thad Lewis as their starter, instead?

The New York Jets will be Manuel's next opponent, and their head coach, Rex Ryan, was asked Wednesday on a conference call with Buffalo reporters about how "some have given up" on the Bills' rookie quarterback.

"Well I think it's a ridiculous statement," Ryan said. "This young man beat Carolina. He's been... hey, put him on waivers and see what happens. That's ridiculous. Because he's only going to get better, and believe me, he's pretty darn good right now."

Bills CEO Russ Brandon confirmed Wednesday that the Bills want to keep Manuel as their starter.

"You look at it from a standpoint with EJ, he's played five games. Let's keep him on the field," Brandon told WGR 550. "He's 23 years old. He's seeing things for the first time in this league. We all know that it's far different from playing in college. So from that point of view, I'm excited about keeping him on the field and seeing where his growth is by the end of the year."

Ryan has his own rookie quarterback in Geno Smith, who has led the Jets to a 5-4 record. In 2009, Ryan's first season in New York, then-rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game, so Ryan is no stranger to the trials a rookie passer faces.

"I can promise you this: It's not easy. There's nothing easy about it, that's for sure. But you focus on the team. You don't focus on the individual," Ryan said. "Geno just has to play the position. You don't place more than that on the young man, you just go out and as a team, you have to win."

Patience with Manuel, Ryan said, is key.

"Will these young guys make some mistakes? Yeah, sure. But, they're also doing a lot of positive things, and they're both going to get better," he said. "That bodes well for us and it bodes well for Buffalo as well."