The Buffalo Bills won a thriller over the rival Miami Dolphins this past Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. It marked the first career win for Thad Lewis as a starting QB in his third try. He’s now 1-1 on the season with a tough-luck OT loss to the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals to go along with Sunday’s win.
Compare that to E.J. Manuel‘s 2-3 record in his first five games as a starter in the NFL, and people have already begun to talk about whether or not there is a QB controversy brewing in Buffalo. I’m here to say that all of that talk is ridiculous.
First off, despite Lewis narrowly missing being 2-0, Manuel’s two losses (that he finished) have come with a combined nine points, including a two-point loss to the 5-2 New England Patriots on opening day. It’s hard to put the loss to the Cleveland Browns on Manuel since they tied the score just a few plays after his injury and generated no offense after he left the game.
Coincidentally, his two wins came with a combined score of nine points as well so Manuel has been every bit as competitive as Lewis has been in the lineup.
So why is Manuel such a better option? For starters, his pocket presence is miles ahead of Lewis’. Through 4.5 games, Manuel was sacked 13 times, intercepted three times and put the ball on the turf three times, twice giving it to the other team. In only two games, Lewis has nearly matched Manuel’s totals. He’s been sacked nine times, intercepted once and put the ball on the turf twice, losing it once.
Manuel also played behind LG Colin Brown, who is no longer on the team, and Lewis has played behind Doug Legursky, who has upgraded the position. It’s important to note that while Manuel has started two more games than Lewis over their careers, Lewis has been in an NFL-coached offense for the past three seasons.
That brings me to the biggest factor that distinguishes the two QBs: while Lewis is likely showing how good he could be at an NFL level now, Manuel hasn’t even scratched the surface of his ceiling yet. Right now, Lewis looks like a formidable back-up in OC Nathaniel Hackett‘s offense, and that is an important asset to have, particularly with Manuel injuring both his knees in his rookie season.
Besides, I think it would be best to pass better judgment on Lewis as a starter in the league after the upcoming three-game stretch that he will certainly be starting QB for. He faces the 5-1 New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Sunday, then the Bills host the 7-0 Kansas City Chiefs.
They end the three-game stretch playing the 2-4 Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in a tough atmosphere. I think Bills fans should wait and see how Lewis reacts to these tough situations before we anoint him anything.
Truth be told, Lewis has been extremely fun to watch over the last two weeks. It remains to be seen whether he can keep it up or not. Regardless, unless he works miracles in the coming weeks, he’ll only play as long as Manuel can’t — and that’s the way it should be.