What the Release of Tarvaris Jackson Means for EJ Manuel, Bills' QB Situation
It's amazing how the releasing of a quarterback who never threw a regular-season pass for a team can provide so much intel about that club's quarterback situation.
Herein lies the unusual circumstance with Tarvaris Jackson and the Buffalo Bills.
Jackson, who was signed prior to the start of the 2012 regular season by former general manager Buddy Nix and former head coach Chan Gailey, was only active for one game last year despite never being injured.
Let's just say, the Jackson Era in Buffalo was exceptionally odd and, um, rather awkward.
With Jackson officially a free agent once again, it's time to examine what his release means for EJ Manuel and the Bills' quarterback situation as a whole.
Manuel wasn't drafted 16th overall to hold the clipboard and relay signals onto the field. In all likelihood, Doug Marrone wanted to start his NFL head coaching tenure with his guy at quarterback, a youngster with an abundance amount of inherent talent and massive upside.
Manuel isn't an Andrew Luck-esque finished product, but Marrone and Co. fell in love with him during the pre-draft process and believed he has the makeup to become a future franchise quarterback. Remember, they had the pick of the signal-caller litter when they went on the clock in Round 1.
The former Florida State standout has only participated in a handful of OTA sessions and was typically relegated to No. 3 quarterback reps.
But he must have shown Marrone and Hackett something they liked in his limited action.
Otherwise, Jackson wouldn't have been cut.
Manuel will benefit from not having to share practice reps with Jackson, which is a critical development. Those reps could ultimately lead to the first-rounder emerging victorious in the quarterback competition.
The more reps, the better.
Kolb was an ordinary, somewhat-blah free-agent signing many overlooked, and rightfully so.
He significantly underwhelmed in Arizona with the Cardinals after signing a huge contract and couldn't stay healthy.
(He was sacked 57 times in 15 games over the past two seasons. Ouch.)
However, he was productive when he had time in the pocket and managed to lead his team to a 4-0 record at the outset of the 2012 season.
Ironically, he was lost for the year after suffering an injury against the Bills in Week 6.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old has a decidedly strong arm and experience in the West Coast offense, which bodes well for his starting candidacy as new offensive coordinator Nate Hackett is thought to be implementing a system with WCO philosophies.
Jackson's release allows Kolb to breathe a little easier. As he's the only quarterback on the roster with any NFL experience—he's essentially ensured to make the team.
Who will start Week 1 for the Bills?
For all intents and purposes, it'll be a Kolb vs. Manuel battle in training camp, which is much better for Kolb than a Kolb-Jackson-Manuel battle.
Then again, the departure of Jackson can only do so much for the former Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller.
Chances are, if he and Manuel "tie" during their time at St. John Fisher College, the rookie will get the nod.
In the end, though, Kolb has to be at least a bit more encouraged today about his chances to win the starting gig than he was before Jackson was cut.
WGRZ-TV sports anchor Jonah Javad did a marvelous job predicting how Tuel reacted to the news of Jackson's release:
Javad (@JonahJavad) June 10, 2013
Like Kolb, Tuel played behind a downright awful offensive line over the last few seasons and dealt with injuries.
Also similarly to Kolb, the undrafted rookie has a live arm and quick release.
He's nothing more than a developmental, emergency No. 3 quarterback, but he was a long shot to make the team before Jackson was let go.
Now, he could make the 53-man roster.
If not, he's a lock for the practice squad.
Really, Marrone said it best after a recent minicamp outing:
Marrone on Tarvaris Jackson: "There's just not enough reps to do a good job evaluating. The competition (with 3 QBs) will be much clearer"— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) June 11, 2013
There's still plenty of mystery and intrigue surrounding the Bills' quarterback competition, just not as much as there was when Jackson was still employed by the team.
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