Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel was well on his way to winning the starting job — if he hasn’t already — over Kevin Kolb after two very impressive preseason games. In those games, he completed 26-of-33 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and looked much more poised and comfortable on the field than Kolb did at any point in his one game in which he played.
However, after the Bills win over the Minnesota Vikings, an MRI showed swelling in Manuel’s knee, and now he has undergone minor knee surgery — likely only a knee drain, but that’s just speculation. The general return timetable of which is about 2-4 weeks.
This has now brought up the issue of whether Manuel will still be the starter come Week 1 against the New England Patriots or if Kolb should retain it if his play improves during the next two games.
Obviously, Kolb will start those last two preseason games, but regardless of how he does, the Bills and head coach Doug Marrone would be completely insane not to start Manuel as soon as he’s ready to go, which for their sake is hopefully that first regular season game. Kolb has done nothing but disappoint in his entire career, minus a few decent games for the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. Not to mention his propensity for getting hurt, with nine being his career high for games played in a season.
No, Buffalo carefully scouted and selected their potential franchise quarterback with the 16th pick in this year’s draft, and after the success he’s enjoyed this preseason, there’s absolutely no reason they should delay his development. After all, this isn’t a playoff team, especially if Kolb is their starter.
Last year, we saw three rookies and one sophomore become starters and do more than just shine. In the right system, and with the right patience in play-calling — following the same formula those teams did — Manuel has the opportunity to do the same. Surely, it would be more than a mistake for them to do anything else in this situation.