With training camp on the horizon, the open quarterback competition in Buffalo is just getting interesting. Although positional training camp battles often have a presumed frontrunner, that’s not necessarily the case this offseason for the Buffalo Bills. Doug Marrone has done an admirable job instilling a competitive attitude into the entire Bills roster, and you get the sense that when he declares an open competition for a roster spot, he means it.
Keeping that in mind, the Bills’ quarterback situation is anything but clear at this point. Through OTAs, Kevin Kolb and Tavaris Jackson saw what was more or less an even split of reps, with rookie EJ Manuel taking a minority share. This hardly means that Manuel is out of the running, though. This early division of reps is in no way indicative of what Marrone plans to do during training camp and can probably be chalked up to EJ needing some extra time to grow accustomed to the speed of the pro game.
At this point, all we know for sure is that any one of these quarterbacks has a legitimate shot at winning the starting job this fall. Beyond that, it’s all just speculation. While it might make sense to assume that Kolb and Jackson have a slight advantage due to their past experience with training camp battles, that experience is only so useful in a situation where all three players are starting from square one.
Buffalo’s coaching staff has been completely overhauled, and the team’s playbook has naturally followed suit. Although Jackson has a full year of experience with the Bills, he still faces the task of learning a new offense from scratch. For Manuel, this situation couldn’t be more ideal. If Manuel had gone to a team with a well-established coach and system in place, it would seem only natural that he sit on the bench and develop while a veteran QB familiar with the offense held the starting job. But in Buffalo, Manuel is in the same boat as the other quarterbacks, meaning that the only tools he needs to win the starting job are his athleticism, football IQ and leadership abilities. For that reason, my money is on Manuel to win the starting job in camp.