Is Manuel a better starter for Bills than Taylor?

EJ Manuel is starting the Bills' next preseason game. Has he been better than Tyrod Taylor this preseason?

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Is Manuel a better starter for Bills than Taylor?

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan has named EJ Manuel the starter for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, but it’s anyone’s guess if this means Manuel is the front-runner for the Week 1 starting gig, as the Bills have had a different starter for each preseason game. It seems Rex is giving each QB game-time reps with the first team before making a final decision.

While Matt Cassel looks like he is out of the race by virtue of being a below-average NFL QB his entire career, Tyrod Taylor and Manuel are works in progress with unknown potential.

Taylor was given the start against Cleveland and didn’t disappoint against a stout Browns defense.  While he was at fault for a sack, Taylor was poised when facing pressure overall, just as he was against Carolina. He actually graded better against pressure than he did without it.

Manuel showed some late-game heroics in Cleveland, as he completed a 4th-and-long TD pass with under two minutes left in the game. While Manuel has graded better overall and has posted a better QB rating than Taylor, he has done so against second-, third-, and fourth-string players, whereas Taylor has played primarily against starters and second-stringers.

Manuel has performed worse when facing pressure, especially against the Browns, where he was sacked three times, posted a 68.8 QB rating, and graded at -0.9.

We’ll see how he does in a starting role against the Steelers. It will likely determine who starts Week 1 versus the Colts.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • donnie johnson

    The Bills are probably screwed either way, right?

    • Jack

      I don’t think there is enough to go on for Taylor.

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    • Todd

      No, the Bills are not screwed either way. In fact, things are competitive enough in the NFL with few elite teams that no one is screwed. Any team that decides to play like a team has a shot. I’m not going to sing their praise. But even the Bills can have an ok year. Here’s what I see. Teams with weaker offensive lines tend to have running QB’s.Carolina Panthers serve as one example with similar o-line weakness led by a running QB that can do ok.

      Carolina and Buffalo show similarities in that both have stronger defenses; and I think we’d all agree that Buffalo’s D is stronger, especially when playing at home. Buffalo also has a stronger playmaking group as they brought in McCoy, Clay and Harvin to help bolster overall offensive depth to their existing players of Watkins, underrated Woods and the aging Fred Jackson. This crew seems, at a minimum, equivalent in talent to Carolina. That’s before Kelvin Benjamin went down. (sucks, by the way)

      Carolina still has Olsen, but has more question marks with Stewart, Funchess and not a whole lot else, with one exception. The one clear advantage for Carolina. Cam Newton. The Bills have no Cam. But they might have Cam-light in Tyrod Taylor.

      I watched Taylor play in preseason. It’s a small sample size, but he appears to have the running ability to keep him upright and the arm to make big plays. He also appeared to have some decisiveness. He also appears to offer the Bills some hope. I doubt the Bills will be competitive because I think they will turn the ball over a ton. However, I think Tyrod showed glimpses of potential; and if he can avoid throwing too many INT’s and can run a more efficient offense that uses up the clock, the league is even enough that an 8-8 record is not totally out of the question.

      So overall, I’m expecting a below average year from the Bills. However with expectations low, and talent around the QB, if the team can rally together, I’m just saying they’ve got enough there to be average.

  • pavihe

    EJ & TT don’t have the experience of Cassel. They’re more likely to turn the ball over. So, I like Cassel on our side of the 50. TT from the 50 to the 20 & EJ in the Red Zone.

    The Bill’s are deep enough in the skill positions to platoon by squad. The reasons given for not platooning are:
    Team Leadership – These 3 QB’s haven’t had the careers that sharing the role would be an insult. They just want to get on the field.
    Chemistry – This Bill’s team is so deep at Receiver, Running Back and Tight End that they can platoon by squad without a lot of dropoff. Practicing during the week with their own sets of receivers eliminates the chemistry argument.
    Matt Cassel – Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Charles Clay & LeSean McCoy
    EJ Manuel – Marquis Goodwin, Demonte Thomas, Marquis Grey & Fred Jackson
    Tyrod Taylor – Percy Harvin, Chris Hogan, Chris Gragg & Karlos Williams
    It hasn’t worked well before – The 2015 Buffalo Bills may be the exception to the rule.

    If there were ever a set of caoahes that would be willing to give it a try it would be REXOMAN.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cassel named the starter for Indy with more than a few downs from TT &EJ.

    • Izach

      While I’m not against the idea of 2 QBs 3 would be too hard, Cassel has experience but he’s shown that expletive does nothing for him he is just as bad if not worse at protecting the ball

  • skiingdemon

    Taylor is the only one with the ability to make up for their terrible offensive line and that’s the main limiting factor on this offense.

    Neither of the other QBs has a single positive trait that is comparable to that.

    I’m shocked by this move. I’m assuming they’re trying to give Manuel a “fair chance,” which is a terrible waste of the most important preseason game.

    Taylor won the job last week. This should be over.

    They will probably play Taylor more in week four to compensate, but the other team won’t play their starting D very long in that game so it’s not really the same.

    Unless Manuel wins the job this is a very foolish move strategically. Maybe ownership is forcing it. Manuel was the larger investment of the three by far. They might want one more shot to prove to fans they are right to move on from him.

    But that’s highly irrational. Even the Texans were bright enough to just make a decision already.

    • Izach

      Looks like Manuel won the job, honestly Manuel has looked better to me, sure tyrod can run and he looks just like Kap did with greg roman the first year, but EJ is athletic enough and the run game should be vastly improved with the new style offense. EJ only has to limit mistakes and I’d bet on him to do that over Tyrod.

      • skiingdemon

        I’ll say this. If I was Washington I’d be on the phone trading for EJ right now.

    • Rafael Rondon

      Terrible offensive line? What team are you talking about? They were bad last year but they look totally different this year.

  • ta111

    EJ had a perfect 158 QB rating against the Steelers. I guess we have answered that question.