Wednesday January 7th, 2015

Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley has been telling coaching candidates that poor coaching led to quarterback EJ Manuel's disappointing play, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reports.

Manuel, the team's first-round pick in 2013, was benched after four games this season in favor of Kyle Orton. Manuel finished the season with 838 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 58 percent of his passes. He posted similar stats in his rookie season, and Whaley believes the coaching staff was to blame for his lack of progress, according to Carucci's report.

After Bills coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract last month to become a free agent, Whaley said he wants the team's next head coach to focus on Manuel's development.

But Whaley apparently thinks Manuel’s struggles, which led to his benching after only four games last season in favor of since-retired Kyle Orton, have had more to do with coaching than the player. Whaley is, according to an NFL source, conveying those thoughts to the candidates that he and the rest of the Bills’ hierarchy have interviewed for the team’s head-coaching vacancy.

• Report: Rex Ryan has interviews lined up with Bills, CBS

The 32-year-old Orton retired after going 7-5 as Buffalo's starter. He completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,018 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Buffalo lost two of its last four games and finished with a 9-7 record, missing the playoffs.

- Paul Palladino

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