It’s that time of the year if you’re a bad team, like the Buffalo Bills, that misses the playoffs by a mile. It’s end of season positional review time!
Over the coming days, yours truly is going to break down each position group by three factors: depth, reliability and performance. They’ll be graded on all three of these factors accordingly.
Naturally, we’ll start with arguably the most important position on any roster: quarterbacks.
The Bills entered the season with just two quarterbacks on the active roster in rookie E.J. Manuel and Jeff Tuel. Manuel, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, emerged as the starter late in the preseason despite some lingering issues with his knee. He started the season strongly before injuring his right knee (not the questionable knee) in Week 5.
Tuel stepped in during that game, played awful and was replaced as Thad Lewis was promoted from the practice squad and right into the starting lineup. He was “serviceable” at best during his four games as fill-in starter and he himself was knocked out due to injury after having his ribs bruised. Tuel got one start against the Kansas City Chiefs — another loss for the Bills.
It probably would have served the Bills better to bring in a more experienced and reliable backup for Manuel than to go with the totally unproven Tuel or the simply okay Lewis. Grade: D+
As stated above, the Bills’ quarterbacks all had injury issues. Manuel’s left knee was the question mark before the season and ended up ending his season after Week 15 when swelling returned. Before that, he battled a sprained right knee after Week 5. Lewis, his backup, missed a start due to bruised ribs.
The Bills’ quarterbacks were probably not going to score very high because of the wild range of performances from Manuel, but having their top two quarterbacks miss time due to injury lowers that score even more significantly. It’s bad enough when your guys are inconsistent on the field, but when they can’t consistently stay on the field? Yikes. Grade: F-
You don’t get to be 28th in the NFL in passing yardage per game without some highly questionable performances by your quarterbacks. Manuel completed just 58.8 percent of his passes on the year for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Like most rookies, he was erratic. He would have a spectacular game and follow it up with an absolute stinker. He has learning and growing to do, but he needs to be healthy to do that.
Lewis was about what you’d expect and it’s hard to ask a lot more from him: 59.2 completion percentage, 1,092 yards passing and four touchdowns to three interceptions. He wasn’t cripplingly bad (like Tuel was in that Week 5 game), but he wasn’t going to give the Bills much through the air. He was simply okay.
Tuel should not be anywhere near an NFL team in a starting or backup capacity. He’s a practice squad guy through and through. Grade: D