- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Bills' situation at quarterback looks dire in the immediate aftermath of losing both EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb to injuries, but it is important to remember that both could still be back in a matter of weeks or even days. Things can change quickly for better or worse in the NFL, and the Bills quarterback position is no different.
With that said, the Bills do have a major problem to handle in the coming days. Just ask head coach Doug Marrone: "I'm not going to sit here and say everything is fine and dandy. It's a concern," he said after Saturday's game. Bringing in a quarterback off the street with two weeks until the regular season opener and tasking him with potentially starting that game is not a place any team wants to find itself.
Adding to the urgency of the moment is the Bills' schedule: they open in Week 1 with perhaps their most important game of the season, hosting the New England Patriots. The Bills were able to take down the Patriots at home in 2011, and played a strong first half last season before things came unraveled. Without Manuel or Kolb, it's a much tougher task. Getting either player back in time for Sept. 8 is key, but injuries aren't something that can be controlled.
Along those lines, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's master plan to dictate the pace of games is now moot, at least for the time being. The Bills will need to slow down and simplify their offense in practice for whatever free-agent quarterback they bring in. And if they have to turn to Jeff Tuel at any point, staying conservative with their play calls is the best way to protect their "other" rookie quarterback. The Bills are now in survival mode, and the most complex of Hackett's schemes are crumpled in the trash, for now.
What in the world were the Bills thinking by letting C.J. Spiller back into the game on Saturday? Sure, it was only a minor cut on his knee, but seeing your franchise running back lying on his back, grabbing for his right knee in a preseason game should be enough of an omen to keep him glued to the bench until Sept. 8. What made the decision even more questionable was that Spiller returned after Kolb had departed for the locker room. If you know your top two quarterbacks are hurt, why not do everything to protect your best remaining asset on offense? Football players will always want to play football, but it's also a business, and that was a true head-scratcher.