Remember last week when I wrote about hating preseason football? Yea, this is precisely why. While the Buffalo Bills escaped Week 1 of their preseason unscathed, in Week 2 they weren’t so lucky…
I was driving home yesterday when I got a notification on my phone that said “EJ Manuel to miss final two games of the preseason due to knee injury.” The game the night before was blacked out on TV and I wasn’t in attendance (I was actually on a date – yea I’m that cool) so I didn’t get to see any sort of play that would indicate EJ had any issue with his knee whatsoever.
From the highlights I saw on TV and from reading game recaps and Twitter reactions, all I had heard was about another stellar performance from number 3. I even went as far as to declare the Bills’ QB competition kaput.
After watching tape of last night's game I think it's safe to say there's no longer a "QB competition" on the #Bills
— Bradley Gelber (@BradleyGelber) August 17, 2013
Then it happened. Overnight something went wrong and EJ’s knee swelled up causing the doctors to declare that “minor surgery” was needed. This operation would sideline Manuel for 2-4 weeks, which put even a Week 1 regular season start in jeopardy. Perhaps it was the Football God’s flexing their hatred muscles for Buffalo. After-all, days earlier Tom Brady hurt his knee as well and was back on the field the next day… Doesn’t that just make you hate New England even more?
Regardless, I turned to Twitter to launch into a full on mope-fest with the rest of my Bills brethren. It’s what we do, something goes wrong with one of ours teams and we declare that the world is ending, or in the case of Twitter, indulge in a masochistic rant encapsulated with the #BecauseItsBuffalo hashtag. EJ got hurt, it’s football, it happens, but because we’ve been waiting for our savior at QB (for what feels like longer than Ralph Wilson has been alive,) we’re extra sensitive when it comes to Mr. Manuel. He has played well in two preseason games after coming off a strong training camp, so in the mind of a Bills fan OF COURSE something had to go wrong. It’s as natural as peanut butter and jelly.
Despite the fact that EJ was only slotted to miss the preseason, fans weren’t shy about voicing their concern. As Mr. Buffalo Wins wrote about himself after the news broke on Saturday, people were in a full on panic. To me that was expected, as I said, it’s what we do. The part I found more surprising was how fans suddenly turned against the also recently injured Kevin Kolb. As I scrolled through my Twitter-feed people were taking shots at Kolb left and right. From more in-depth insults to just the straightforward “HE SUCKS!” It appeared as though Bills fans had congregated at town hall, grabbed their pitchforks and torches and taken off into to depths of night to chase the guy out of town.
I’m certainly not here to defend Kolb. I haven’t gone back and watched all of his game day tape from his years in Arizona and Philadelphia. I didn’t attend all of his sessions at training camp pre-mat injury. I can’t sit here and tell you his timing is off with his WR’s, or he falls away from his throws. What I can tell you is that the guy has played one half of one preseason game… That’s it. I understand he brings with him a checkered past, just as most veterans do, but this is a new team, a new offense and new coaches. Players change in new surroundings and even if he’s the same guy he was in Arizona, maybe give him a full preseason game before you blacklist him.
The injury to EJ also does wonders for crowd favorite Jeff Tuel. The undrafted, third-string QB is now pretty much a certainty to remain on the roster. Jay Skurski from the Buffalo News reported on Twitter that: “Marrone says that Jeff Tuel is in the competition to be the starting quarterback, not just to make the roster.” If EJ didn’t break the Internet by getting hurt, Jay certainly did by dropping that tidbit of info. Fans have been clamoring since training camp for Tuel to get his turn in the spotlight and if Kolb is as god-awful as most of you seem to believe, perhaps it’ll be “Tuel Time” in the 716 sooner than later.
At the end of the day none of this really matters. EJ should be back by the time games count and while he may be a bit rusty and his chemistry with his receivers may perhaps suffer a bit; it isn’t the end of the world. I think most of us would rather EJ take the proper time to rest and recover rather than rush back out there just to quell our nerves. Then again if something does go wrong and Manuel isn’t able to start Week 1, it’s worth pointing out Kolb was 1-0 vs. the Patriots in 2012… #BecauseItsBuffalo
Tweet of the Week:
Christmas come early this year boys!
Usually the Bills wait until the first *regular* season game to crush our hopes
— Kevin Pritchard (@BfloBlog) August 17, 2013
Have your own opinion on this week’s column or a topic you want featured in next week’s column? Get at me on Twitter: @BradleyGelber