Matt Cassel vs EJ Manuel vs Tyrod Taylor
All you have to do is look at the names competing for the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback position and you get your answer on the the team’s upcoming weakness heading into the season. In what was thought to be a two player race between Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel, a third competitor in Tyrod Taylor has been getting first team reps at OTAs. No knock on Taylor but it’s a sad state of affairs to think that a quarterback who has only thrown 35 passes in 4 seasons may be the most talented quarterback of the trio. Taylor, an inexperienced QB with excellent speed seems to be Rex Ryan’s favorite guy heading into OTAs. The Bills plan to rely heavily on LeSean McCoy and the running game mitigating the responsibilities of the starting QB. But as we have all seen quite too often in Ryan’s coaching career, the “ground beef” playing style leaves your whole offensive unit vulnerable against NFL defenses. Defenses will stack the box limiting rushing space for the Bills’ one dimensional offense.
Taylor’s emergence in this QB Battle says more about EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel than it says about himself. Manuel was the Bills first round pick in the 2013 draft but was eventually benched last season in favor of Kyle Orton after just 4 games. In 16 career starts Manuel has thrown for 16 TDs and 12 interceptions, completing 58.6% of his passes. On the surface Manuel’s numbers aren’t terrible but his inconsistency and reluctance to throw the football down the field is apparent when watching him play.”Checkdown EJ” is built like Cam Newton but plays a lot like Alex Smith.
The Bills traded for Cassel this offseason to compete with Manuel for the starting QB job. Many believe that it will be Cassel’s position to lose under the new Rex Ryan regime. Cassel comes with huge question marks as well as being substantially removed from his 24-21 three year run as a starter in New England and Kansas City from 2008-2010. Over the last four seasons, Cassel has floundered to a 9-17 record as a starter. Cassel has also thrown more interceptions than touchdowns during that span (34/30). He struggled mightily in the last 2 seasons with the Vikings which came to a head last year when he threw 4 picks in the first 3 games and was eventually replaced by first round pick Teddy Bridgewater.
The Buffalo Bills have made huge strides this offseason with the addition of McCoy, Percy Harvin, and Charles Clay to go along with wide receiver Sammy Watkins and that fearsome front seven. The hope is for the team to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 (#Wow). But first they have to figure out which QB gives them the best chance to win football games.