In a potential sign that the Bills intend to keep all three of their quarterbacks, or at least a sign that coach Rex Ryan has not learned much about quarterback development since his time in New York, Buffalo will start EJ Manuel on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Manuel, the team's 2013 first-round pick, is the third starting quarterback the team has used this preseason following Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor.
There are two ways to look at this declaration, neither of which will mean much for the immediate future of the Bills' offense:
- Ryan promised a fair shake to every quarterback and wants to appear a man of his word. Manuel, despite some struggles, did not get a preseason start to showcase his ability with first-string wide receivers against a first-string defense. This is due diligence and might introduce us to a more determined and focused version of Manuel.
- This is a disaster. The third preseason game is a time for clubs to start introducing a regular practice schedule and to start prepping for actual opponents. If the Bills have yet to truly make up their minds, Ryan will be no better off than he was with a Geno Smith/Mark Sanchez competition, or a Smith/Michael Vick competition.
We've been on record as saying Manuel deserves a fair shake, so this should not be taken the wrong way. Kudos to Ryan for really stringing out the evaluation period.
However, we've seen this backfire spectacularly before.