- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Buffalo Bills' quarterback play.
Rewind: Thad Lewis completed 19 of 32 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in just his second career start. Not too shabby. The Bills went into Sunday's game confident in Lewis' ability to run the offense, and while he didn't light up the scoreboard, it was a solid performance against a typically stingy Bengals defense. His critical mistake, however, came in the third quarter, when he fumbled while trying to scramble on third down. Coach Doug Marrone said Lewis was trying to "do too much" on the play, which led to a Cincinnati touchdown.
Fast-forward: The Bills travel Sunday to face Miami, and two things could be working in Lewis' favor: First, he'll likely have top receiver Stevie Johnson back, giving him another option outside. Second, the Dolphins' defense is middle-of-the-pack and doesn't feature as strong a front seven as the Bengals, who sacked Lewis five times this past Sunday. The Dolphins' best pass-rusher, Cameron Wake, is still working his way back from injury, which should help give Lewis some breathing room in the pocket.
Is there any drop-off? One of the hot topics last week was whether there would be any drop-off in play from E.J. Manuel to Lewis. The early returns suggest there will not be. While Manuel, obviously, is who the Bills want at quarterback in the long term, there are drawbacks to starting a rookie. Those are mostly eliminated with Lewis. The Duke quarterback doesn't have the same physical abilities or ceiling as Manuel, but he appeared more accurate on his throws and was more willing to drive the ball downfield Sunday.
Prediction: The wild card here is Lewis' foot injury, which left him in a walking boot following Sunday's game. The Bills feel confident Lewis can play, but watching him walk around the locker room Sunday was painful. He couldn't take a step on his right foot without grimacing. It's hard to believe that will clear up fully by Sunday, so the expectations for Lewis against the Dolphins are lower here. If his mobility and ability to plant off his back foot are hampered, his overall performance will follow suit.