Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans- at least for the Buffalo Bills. 2013 draft pick E.J. Manuel will not start on opening day against arch nemesis New England Patriots, the QB healing from minor knee surgery. QB Kevin Kolb is on the injured reserve (IR) list for a concussion that happened against the Redskins, and back-up QB Brad Smith also joining the IR list due to broken ribs. Rumor has it that Kolb may not see his next football game, as the concussion may possibly end his career. Matt Lienart blew his QB shot against the Detroit Lions this past Thursday, with the Lions crushing the Bills in a 35-13 victory.
If you believe in the Magic 8 Ball and ask “Will QB Jeff Tuel start next Sunday?” you will probably get “All signs point to yes.” On Sept. 8, Jeff Tuel will make history as the first undrafted rookie QB since 1967 to start a season opener. According to Bills coach Doug Marrone, Tuel will be the main QB.
Can Tuel handle the job?
If you examine Tuel’s stats, it is not that bad. In three preseason games, Tuel is 31 out of 43 in passing for a total of 299 yards. He has thrown 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Those are respectable numbers. If you look at Tuel’s college record, the former Washington State starter did not fare as well, going 4 out of 22 in his college football career. Tuel also racked up 33 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. The good news? Tuel’s interception rate has already improved with the Bills, not misfiring into the wrong hands in three preseason games. Tuel seems to do well on short passes, something the Bills have been trying to establish these last few years.
From a psychological standpoint, I think Tuel is in a better spot than most people think. He will square off against Tom Brady and the Patriots, one of the most dominant AFC East teams for the past decade. Do the sports analysts expect Tuel to win? No. If Tuel loses, he just fulfills people’s predictions. If Tuel wins, he becomes the Bills’ unsung hero and most celebrated underdog. Tuel also has much help in the explosive RB C.J. Spiller, one of the best running backs in the NFL. If Spiller’s game is even halfway on, the Bills’ offensive line blocking well, the Bills could beat the Patriots.
What are the masses worried about? Jeff Tuel’s rookie status, arm strength, and indecisiveness.
My eyes will be glued to the television on Sept. 8 when Jeff Tuel becomes not only the first undrafted rookie QB to start a season opener, but the first rookie to win one.
Hey, I’m from Buffalo. We always root for the underdog.