While some scouts liked Manuel, almost no one expected him to go in the first round, or to be the first quarterback selected, as Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, and Matt Barkley had all received more hype. But the Bills liked Manuel and decided to make him their quarterback of the future.
As for the present, however, Kevin Kolb, who the Bills signed as a free agent in March, will likely be the Bills starting quarterback going into the 2013 season.
Manuel is alluring, and he may be a very good quarterback one day, but he’s also very raw. Throwing him to the lions right away is not a good idea. That’s why the smartest thing the Bills could do is give the No. 1 job to Kolb, who has looked solid at times, despite being extremely injury-prone.
It’s easy to write Kolb off as a failure because he’s never completed a full season as a starter, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and if he can stay healthy for a full season, he might be able to put up some solid numbers.
Last season, Kolb played for the Arizona Cardinals, where he started five games before getting hurt against…the Bills (funny how that works out).
The quarterback compiled a 3-2 record if games that he started while also leading the Cardinals to a win in relief of John Skelton in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. That means the Cardinals were 4-2 in games that Kolb played a direct role in the outcome of.
Why does that matter? because they were 5-11 overall, making them 1-9 in games without Kolb. From this, it’s clear that Kolb was essential to the Cardinals success. Without him, the Cardinals floundered through the sub-par quarterbacking of Skelton and Ryan Lindley.
Had Kolb been healthy the entire season, the Cardinals might have challenged for a playoff spot, or at the very least, hovered around .500.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Kolb is a good QB so much as it means that Lindley and Skelton were unusually terrible QBs, but the fact still remains that the Cardinals had success with Kolb under center, and it’s not completely insane to think the Bills might be able to improve their offense by making him their No. 1 option.
If he can avoid making the foolish throws that plagued Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s career in Buffalo, and more importantly avoid getting hurt yet again, Kolb could turn the Bills into a decent team and save them from yet another 6-10 season.
Kolb doesn’t have a particularly impressive resume, and no fan base is going to get super-excited about bringing him in, but he may be better than most fans realize. His inability to catch on Philadelphia and Arizona can be attributed to injuries more than poor performance.
Obviously, the risk of another injury to Kolb is there, but if he does stay healthy, he could do more for the Bills than most fans realize. At worst, he’ll keep the seat warm for Manuel. At best, he might surprise some people and look like a viable option at QB for the foreseeable future.
Even if he doesn’t take the Bills to the playoffs, he might be talented enough to being them respectability.