Buffalo Bills: Doug Marrone Should Be in No Rush to Name a Starting QB

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IJuly 31, 2013

Jun 11, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel (3) quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) and quarterback Jeff Tuel (8) run a drill during mini-camp at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

EJ Manuel was the first quarterback taken off the board in the 2013 NFL draft, the only one drafted in the first round. 

Kevin Kolb is a veteran journeyman quarterback, once considered to be the future of the Philadelphia Eagles, before he was considered the future of the Arizona Cardinals, and before he was traded from the former team to the latter and then allowed to walk away in free agency.

Manuel and Kolb are now both competing for the right to be the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback in 2013.

We may think we know how this story will end, but with only two practices in the books, there's no reason to pull out our "Jump to Conclusions" mat just yet.

Of course, head coach Doug Marrone would like to have an answer sooner than later, but it's a process, with a competition that has to play out on the field. Marrone said, per BuffaloBills.com

As a coach the earlier it can get done the better. I'd be a fool to sit here and say otherwise. The earlier the better, but again if you make decisions early and no one can see those decisions with the team then you wind up hurting your football team. So I’m hoping the decision and the timeline really relies on the players that are in competition and they have to separate themselves. And when you give people enough reps they will separate. At what point? I don’t know.

The competition will play out on the field, but it's never too early to start paying attention to what direction the two quarterbacks are headed.

In that respect, it looks like, at the very least, Kolb isn't doing much to help his case:

What that means for EJ Manuel is another question, but reports out of camp indicate that he was less shaky than Kolb.

In a Buffalo News video by Tim Graham and Jay Skurski, Graham said (around the 2:45 mark) that Manuel "looks pretty comfortable out there—some good things, some bad things." 

Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 SportsRadio reported in his practice notes that while Kolb "struggled," Manuel "didn't damage his case" to become the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart. He also added that, to the untrained eye, "Manuel has been the better quarterback each of the past two days."

Like Marrone said, it would be nice if the battle would end early on in camp, but that would mean that one of the aforementioned quarterbacks would have to stand out quickly and make the coaching staff's decision easy. If that does happen, though, it would give the Bills more time to build their offense around the strengths of whichever quarterback will be playing for them.

In the specific case of EJ Manuel, Marrone may feel compelled to make the decision a bit earlier in order to allow him time to build chemistry with the first-team offense before the third preseason game, which is often called a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season.

All that said, it's going to take more than one quarterback playing less poorly than the other quarterback for two days for this battle to be determined—or, at least, it should if the Bills season is going to end any better than it has for the past 13 years.


Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from the Sports-Reference.com network and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.