Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Buffalo Bills [Print without images]

Friday, January 3, 2014
Bills positional review: Quarterbacks

By Mike Rodak

Back in September, we broke down the Bills' 53-man roster, position-by-position. Now that the Bills' season has ended, we'll review those grades:

Position: Quarterback (preseason grades)

SNAP COUNTS
EJ Manuel -- 59.8 percent
Thad Lewis -- 30.7 percent
Jeff Tuel -- 9.6 percent

DEPTH

Preseason take: Head coach Doug Marrone seems to have little problem going into the season with just two rookies at quarterback, saying he will take on the role of a veteran tutor, but that could be a recipe for disaster. The Bills, of course, planned on having veteran Kevin Kolb to help Marrone, but Kolb is now sidelined for at least this season with a concussion. If nothing else, the Bills want to use this season to develop their rookies, so it's understandable that they wouldn't want to take reps away from either quarterback. But it's tough to say there is good depth at this position. Grade: D

Postseason review: In retrospect, the decision to keep just two quarterbacks may have backfired. When Manuel was injured in Week 5, the Bills had to turn to Tuel, who couldn't lead Buffalo to a win over the Cleveland Browns. That led to Thad Lewis being promoted from the practice squad and taking over the No. 2 role. General manager Doug Whaley may have put it best Monday: Lewis was "serviceable" in his four games as the fill-in starter. The Bills could have benefited from having a better option behind Manuel, so this grade was accurate.

RELIABILITY

Preseason take: Manuel's left knee will be a hot topic early in the season. If the rigors of playing in NFL games causes the swelling to recur, then the Bills will be in trouble. Tuel has stayed healthy throughout the preseason, which helps in this category, but in general, the Bills are putting all their eggs in one basket by relying on the two rookies. Grade: D+

Postseason review: In the end, it was both of Manuel's knees that were a hot topic. He sprained his right knee after taking a hit against the Browns, and in Week 15, the swelling in his left knee recurred, ending his season. Tuel stayed healthy, but Lewis bruised his ribs in a loss to the New Orleans Saints and missed his next start. Any direction they turned, the Bills were in trouble. This grade should have been lower, perhaps even an 'F.'