Training Camp is over and now the NFL season is less than a month away. There are two preseason games left and the important third one is coming up this weekend. Rex has stated all three QBs will be spending times with the first team against the Steelers. This will be the most important game with all three still pretty much even (in the eyes of the coaches) and it will determine who will more than likely start the season. After reviewing the scrimmage and the first two preseason games (thanks to NFL GamePass) I’m going to evaluate the play of all three QBs through this point.
Cassel has been the very definition of mediocre veteran QB. He is pretty accurate on passes under ten yards but anything further and he struggles since he doesn’t have the arm strength anymore. He is also the least mobile of the three which is why Rex did not play him against Cleveland in the 2nd half as he would have been sacked on every play. He’s been the worst of the three and the only reason he’s in the race is he’s the veteran and is the backup if all else fails option.
Tyrod is the best runner of the three and it isn’t even close. He’s also probably the fastest player on the field. That running ability has been shown numerous times and when teams aren’t expecting it, he’s beaten them for big runs. With Shady McCoy and a run heavy offense, it isn’t hard for people to see the potential explosiveness in the run game with Taylor at QB.
As a passer, Tyrod still has some work to do. He primarily throws short easy passes, particularly outside the hashes. So far Tyrod hasn’t attacked the middle or intermediate parts of the field. He has developed patience against the Browns as instead of scrambling, he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a nice pass to Thompson. However he still struggles throwing the deep ball. Tyrod has a tendency to putting too much arc on the ball and it leads to the ball being underthrown where the defender is able to make a play on it. There were two throws he made, one in the Panthers and one in the Browns game where he underthrew the ball and made it difficult for his WR to make a catch. The Panthers throw he threw it too far towards the sideline and his WR had his man beat and a throw aiming towards the backline would have been a TD. Pressure was all around him which might have explained his underthrow. Against the Browns, his man had the CB beat and if he aimed towards the backline, it would have been a TD, instead he threw it short which allowed the corner to put a hand on it.
Tyrod is a wow player when it comes to his running ability and he looks good on short passes. That and the extremely low expectations is why many Bills fans think he should be the starter.
Manuel has been the forgotten man in the competition (due to not being a Rex guy) and it took impressive play in the scrimmage and two preseason games fot him get 1st team reps again and rejoin the discussion. He has showed noticeable improvement since last year and having an actual coaching staff has helped too. Last year his biggest problems with inaccuracy were due to hesitation which caused him to throwing it late, or trying to aim the ball instead of throwing it. So far he has been very decisive and has yet to look overwhelmed. What has been the biggest positive is how he has handled pressure. Since college when pressured, he would do his trademark spin move. This year he has done a better job of moving around in the pocket with the best example was his TD throw against the Panthers. EJ stepped up in the pocket and dropped a dime to Thompson for a TD.
Another area he has shown improvement is pre snap reads. The greatest example was his TD against the Browns. EJ identified all out Blitz and one on one matchup on the outside. He checked into a better protection and a back-shoulder throw to Davis. That was an area he needed a lot of work and something that he learned watching Kyle Orton last year. That’s not to say he’s perfect. He still seems to struggle throwing on the run. When throwing on the run, he seems to be deciding between running and throwing and does this horrible in-between which leads to a forkball instead of a heater.
Overall, Tyrod or EJ should win the job. Both are still young and both have upside. Tyrod is a wow factor as a runner and brings some excitement from that while EJ has been making some wow plays in the passing game and been the most aggressive in that area. Both still have their warts that will need to be addressed but both at their current stage is far better than Cassell.