The quarterback position for the Buffalo Bills was one of flux this season, and their 6-10 record reflects such.
Through 16 games, the Bills started three different quarterbacks, who combined totaled one career NFL start before the beginning of this season.
Rookie EJ Manuel ultimately won the starting role after Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion and was placed on injured reserve. Manuel had his ups and downs, managing to execute a comeback win over the Carolina Panthers in week two, but displaying horrible outings against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Manuel has already been given the nod for the starting role next season, and his health remains the biggest concern for the Bills moving forward.
Manuel was injured three times this season, counting his injury in preseason. All three injuries were knee-related. Manuel relies on his mobility, which would be hindered if knee injuries become chronic.
Jeff Tuel showed promise in the preseason, but crumbled when he had his opportunities in the regular season. His atrocious play against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football forced the Bills to make a move, activating Thad Lewis from the practice squad. Tuel would later get a full start under his belt against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, but will long be remembered for his interception that was returned 99-yards for a touchdown. What made that play even more painful is that Stevie Johnson was alone in the back of the endzone, and Buffalo was leading at that point.
Lewis was arguably Buffalo's most consistent option this season. He went 2-3 as a starter, beating the Miami Dolphins both times. He also took the tough Cincinnati Bengals to overtime. Lewis proved he can be a reliable backup for Manuel moving forward and will not lose a game if he needs to play in relief of the young starter. Lewis impressed the coaching staff with his attention to detail and how prepared he was to play just a week after being activated from the practice squad. He also proved that he would take chances down the field, and was able to connect on a few. However, his downside this season was his awareness in the pocket. Too many times he allowed the ball to be stripped from him while looking for an option down the field.
When a team starts three quarterbacks with limited experience, a losing record is almost inevitable. Buffalo was able to remain competitive, despite being inconsistent at the most important position on the team. Given the circumstances, each player played decent, and should use this season as a learning experience moving forward.
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