Manuel or Kolb: Who deserves to start for the Bills?
For the Buffalo Bills and new Head Coach Doug Marrone and the rest of his coaching staff, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to bring this team back into the playoff picture. It all starts (and may possibly end) with the QB competition between free agent signee and NFL veteran Kevin Kolb and rookie QB and first round draft pick EJ Manuel. Each quarterback has certain aspects of their games that would make any Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator jump at the chance to take them under their wings Let’s break down what each QB has to offer and what the coaches will more than likely be looking at this offseason.
Kolb has been around the league for years now, and has shown success when given the opportunity. With a solid offensive line, the right play-calling, staying healthy(for more than just a handful of games), and the time to make accurate throws and correct reads, Kolb is one of the better QB’s at getting the ball out of his hands, accurately, quickly, and even deep down field. While that hasn’t been seen since Kolb’s arrival in the desert in Arizona, Marrone and company must have seen the potential there, or they wouldn’t have brought him in to compete for a starting job and let Ryan Fitzpatrick walk so easily. The difference between Kolb and Fitzpatrick is Kolb has proven he can win close games and throw the ball deep down field. Kolb has an excellent work ethic and is a good communicator both on and off the field.
The coaches will have a hard time finding things not to like about Kolb, but he does make poor decisions when under pressure. Rather than holding onto the ball and taking a sack, he tends to make errant throws that to interceptions and, in some cases, cost his team the game. Kolb needs to work on his decision-making while under duress, and he should have plenty of time to straighten that out with Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine’s new hybrid, fast paced defensive scheme. Perhaps the biggest issue that has plagued Kolb throughout the years has been his health, which was primarily due to the fact that his offensive line was atrocious in both Arizona and Philadelphia before that, causing Kolb to take an excessive amount of unnecessary sacks, which led to some pretty serious injuries. Buffalo will afford Kolb the opportunity to display his talents properly, with a much better offensive line than either of his two former employers, and if he stays healthy, the sky is the limit for him.
In the case of EJ Manuel, there are far more intriguing aspects to his game than Kolb. There have been nothing but positive things spoken of Manuel since the day he left (and while he was at) Florida State to pursue an NFL career. Buffalo’s offensive lineman Zerbie Sanders praised Manuel prior to the Draft and said that he would be successful no matter where he ends up in the NFL. Many people have said that Manuel is a natural leader, both on and off the field. He played through many different injuries, including a broken leg, while leading his team to victory in several Bowl games. His heart and determination are through the roof, and his leadership skills will help when the team has their backs against the wall. He was known for making speeches not only in the locker room, but on the sidelines as well, to help try to boost the team and pump them up for the remainder of the game.
Manuel carries himself in a professional manner everywhere he goes; whether it’s in the meeting room, on the field, in front of a microphone, or anywhere else you may find him. He has a strong-arm and great pocket presence, and some draft nicks had Manuel as their highest rated QB on the board prior to the Draft. The Bills were so confident they could get Manuel later in the 1st round that they traded their 8th overall pick to the St. Louis Rams in order to move down eight more spots to take him. Some people said the Bills reached for Manuel and that he’s too raw, while others think he’s the difference maker the Bills have been missing behind center since the Jim Kelly days. Manuel is a constant student of the game, asking questions and trying to learn new things whenever possible. Now that Tarvaris Jackson has been released, Manuel will get his fair share of first team reps, and will be able to shine in the spotlight.
Like Kolb, Manuel made some poor decisions when under pressure. He needed to work on carrying the ball when running with it, and has already corrected that prior to the Bills drafting him. Manuel is willing to do whatever it takes to be a winner and help his teammates get better. His deep ball accuracy is surprisingly better than people give him credit for, and his ability to extend plays will be similar to the way Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Washington’s Robert Griffin III navigate through defenders trying to take them down. Manuel has already stated that he’s grasped the offense and it’s similar to the West Coast style offense Jimbo Fisher instilled at FSU. Manuel is out to prove to the world that he is ready to make it in the NFL and be a difference maker right now.
Whoever wins the starting job out of mini-camps will certainly not be handed the job like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, and JP Losman were. Marrone and his staff are willing to do whatever it takes to get this team back into the playoffs now, and they won’t make a decision until they’ve looked at all the tapes and gone through all the plays. This time around with the Bills, it feels different. The players believe in what the coach is trying to do with the team. And the fans are starting to buy into it too. If everything goes according to plan, it’s not going to matter who’s behind center, because that person is going to deserve to be the starting QB of the Buffalo Bills. Hopes and expectations are high in Western New York.
New York native Doug Marrone will not disappoint a fan base that has been waiting almost a decade and a half to make it back into the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills will once again be relevant in the NFL, and not just this year, but for years to come. So buckle up, football fans. We’re rounding the home stretch for the season to start. And it can’t come soon enough.