Camps open in less than two weeks. In Buffalo there will be a lot of attention paid to HC, Rex Ryan. Rex is an attention monger, who sort of does it to take pressure off his team. Bills are coming off the first winning season in years, and expectations are high.
The fanbase is motivated by last year’s results, as well as a defense that will be among the best in the NFL. Add to that, a great defensive mind in Rex Ryan, and one can easily appreciate the enthusiasm. But, like all of Rex’s teams so far, the QB position is very unsettled; it has to be settled, in order to get to the next level, the playoffs.
Rex started his HC career with a rookie QB at the helm, and he proved that a strong defense, even with an unproven QB, can take you far. He had hoped to repeat that feat with his next starting QB, another rookie. However, that defense was not equal to the one before. The trend here is obvious, which is why he accepted the Bills job.
Returning from last year is EJ Manuel, and he is joined by Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and Matt Simms. This will be the biggest battle in camp, since none have been named starters. Let us look in to each one:
EJ Manuel – This position should be his by now. EJ was drafted in the first round, he is entering season 3. His previous HC had no confidence in him, and as a result EJ tends to play with a fear of failure. He has not showed that he can be the leader, and that may be the result of Marrone’s head games. EJ is very talented, and has all the tools to be the one. He has a good arm, very patient in his reads, which have resulted in less turn overs than you would expect. He is also mobile enough to make Rex happy. EJ has to come into camp with the attitude that the job is his, and the others are only here to support him.
Matt Cassel – Cassel returns to the AFCE after having journeyed around the league, collecting big money while living off his famous one year in New England. At 33 years of age, Cassel is more of a backup/mentor than an everyday starter. He has been declining for the last couple of of seasons. He is now a 56-58% completion QB. His mobility is limited, and his decision making is not that of an experienced QB. His OTAs were horrible, and he must step it up during camp. Cassel was signed to be the starter to replace Kyle Orton, but at this point he will be lucky to be the back up.
Tyrod Taylor – This kid is an interesting addition to the mixture. He and EJ are the same age, but Tyrod, off of the Ravens roster has far less experience. He is very mobile and precise. Taylor gives Rex the wild card, he so enjoys having, a change of pace Wild Cat QB. Apparently Tyrod was very impressive at OTAs, so much so that beat writers have already named him the starting QB. He will need to come in what that same desire to win the job if he is to beat out EJ and Cassel. That kind of competition is exactly what Rex would love to see.
Matt Simms – Rex has always loved this kid, and it is no surprise he snatched him up as soon as the Jets cut him. Matt is a smart, likable individual. He is a perfect #3, because he will not complain, but will be ready to play if called upon. Simms will not compete for the starting job, regardless of what they tell us. My guess is he has the #3 spot all reserved.
My Crystal Ball says:
Tyrod will push EJ and Cassel very hard all pre season long. EJ will have confidence and will be named the starter. The real battle will be for the backup spot. This is a vital spot because Rex will have no problem going with his backup, if EJ is failing him. IMO barring any injuries, Tyrod will be the winner, and Matt Cassel will be looking for a new job two weeks before the end of camp. Rex loves to run the WC a couple of time per game, and that role will belong to Taylor. Cassel’s CAP hit is zero if he is cut, and that certainly will be a factor as well. In the end EJ will be given his last opportunity to start and lead this team, if he fails, the Bills hopes for the playoffs will vanish, and so will he.