After missing out on the Josh Freeman sweepstakes, the Buffalo Bills made the decision to name Thad Lewis their starting quarterback while rookie E.J. Manuel recovers from an LCL injury. That choice, however, was not the right one.
Following Manuel’s departure from last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns, the Bills were forced to go with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel as their man under center. The unproven, inexperienced passer floundered in his NFL debut as the Bills blew a lead and walked away with another notch in the loss column.
Despite his poor performance, Tuel is the guy who should be getting the start in Week 6.
Tuel is an intriguing young passer who has the potential to develop into a quality backup/spot starter for the Bills. Possessing an underrated arm, solid accuracy and a good head on his shoulders, the undrafted rookie still has a lot to learn about quarterbacking in the NFL. Letting him sit on the sideline, though, isn’t going to help his development.
It’s also hard to judge Tuel based on one game where he was unexpectedly thrust into the lineup against one of the best defenses in the league. He might have struggled, but it’s understandable considering he’s an undrafted rookie who’s only five months into his NFL career.
Apparently, though, the Bills saw enough to let Lewis leapfrog Tuel.
Lewis, acquired from the Detroit Lions back in August, has spent the first five weeks of the Bills’ 2013 season on the practice squad. Throughout his three years in the league, he’s been with four teams and played in only one game – a Week 17 start for the Browns in 2012.
During his only NFL appearance, he played fairly well, completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception while earning an 83.3 passer rating.
Still, he has basically as much experience as Tuel does and was behind him on the Bills’ depth chart only a week ago. Lewis is a fringe NFL talent and, despite being touted as an athletic quarterback, is an overrated runner. He doesn’t take risks and consistently settles with check downs instead of making throws down the field.
As risky as it may seem, starting Tuel would have been the better option for the Bills. He proved during the preseason that he can make NFL throws, and deserves a second chance to show that he can lead Buffalo to a win.
Instead, Lewis will start for the Bills against the Cincinnati Bengals. Don’t expect him to hold down the No. 1 role for long, though.