History suggest that should maybe not be the case.
Manuel will be only the second rookie quarterback ever to start the season as the Bills' starter (excluding Jim Kelly, who started upon joining the team in 1986 after starting in the USFL, which he joined after the Bills drafted him in 1983). The franchise has started six rookies at quarterback at some point during their first seasons. Those players went 2-4 and generally didn't play well.
Here are those players and how they did:
- 1963: Daryle Lamonica went 10-of-16 for 115 yards and a touchdown and the Bills beat the New York Jets, 45-14. He also rushed three times for three yards. Lamonica had seen time with the starting unit earlier in the year, sharing duties with veteran Jack Kemp. The Bills went 7-6-1 and made the AFL playoffs.
- 1968: Dan Darragh went 13-of-25 for 150 yards with two interceptions as the Bills opened the year with a 16-7 loss to the Boston Patriots. Buffalo won only one game that year.
- 1969: James Harris went 8-of-16 for 156 yards and a touchdown. The Oakland Raiders had put up 42 points by the time Buffalo scored, though, as the Bills went on to lose, 50-21. That was Harris' only start in a 4-10 season.1
- 1973: Joe Ferguson worked his way into the starting lineup by Week 3 for a Bills team whose quarterback's sole job was to get the ball to O.J. Simpson. He went 7-of-17 for 74 yards and an interception as the Bills beat the Jets, 9-7. He also gained 13 rushing yards on four carries. The Bills just missed the playoffs at 9-5 that season, but Simpson became the only player to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in a 14-game season.
- 1995: Todd Collins started one game in relief of Jim Kelly. He went 6-of-15 for 30 yards with an interception before being pulled from a meaningless season finale against the Houston Oilers. Alex Van Pelt finished the game, a 28-17 loss. The Bills won the AFC East that year with a 10-6 record.
- 2007: Trent Edwards started over J.P. Losman in Week 3. He went 10-of-20 for 97 yards and an interception in an ugly 38-7 loss to the Patriots. The Bills somehow finished in second place in the AFC East that year at 7-9.
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