EJ Manuel seemingly won the Buffalo Bills' quarterback battle Saturday without taking a single snap.
Kevin Kolb looked lost starting in Manuel's place against the Washington Redskins. He was hurt early, and backup Jeff Tuel did nothing to help prevent a 30-7 shellacking at FedEx Field.
Kolb went 2-of-4 for only 16 yards before he took a knee to the back of the head and missed the rest of the game. He did lead the Bills' only scoring drive of the game, but two scrambles and the handiwork of C.J. Spiller on the ground did the bulk of the work on that drive.
The defense, meanwhile, easily turned in its worst performance of the preseason. With top-two quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins on the sidelines, Washington still nearly gained 500 yards of total offense. Rex Grossman (yes, THAT Rex Grossman) went 11-for-21 for 171 yards and a touchdown, shredding the Bills' defense apart on Washington's opening drive.
Kolb can't be blamed for the defense. But the utter confusion he showed when was in was still enough to prove the job should be Manuel's when he returns from minor knee surgery. On the Bills' first drive, Kolb had ample time to step up in the pocket, maybe scramble down the middle, but instead he stepped to his right in a failed attempt to outmaneuver a Washington lineman who'd already fallen to the ground. He just is not comfortable behind center.
And Tuel, seeing his first extended action of the preseason, put to bed any talk of him becoming the No. 1 or 2 quarterback for the Bills. He did not lead a single scoring drive and threw for only 62 yards on 10-for-17, an average of 3.6 yards per attempt. He did not come anywhere near leading a scoring drive and mostly stalled the offense out. The Bills had only eight first downs.
Even more telling was Buffalo's play count. The Bills exceeded 80 plays in each of the first two games, with Manuel seeming to play well in the faster pace when he was on the field. They barely mustered half that total Saturday, getting only 47 plays off. They gained only 170 yards on those plays, an average of about 3.6 per play. And, that's right, Grossman gained more yards through the air than the Bills had as a collective.
Manuel is expected to miss the preseason finale Thursday at home against the Detroit Lions but be ready for the start of the regular season. Coach Doug Marrone better hope so, and hopefully he's seen enough to end the charade of not knowing who the starting quarterback will be for that first game.
Manuel may not be a winner, at least yet. but everyone else has solidly proven they definitely won't be.
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