Practice Squad QB To Top Dog Act Of Desperation
By Jo E. Prout
Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone continued to court controversy this week by promoting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis from practice squad to starting team leader for the Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Marrone told WGR 550 in Buffalo on Monday. Is Marrone crazy, or crazy like a fox?
The move left second-string quarterback Jeff Tuel spinning his wheels, only days after he fared poorly in Thursday’s Bills game against the Cleveland Browns. Tuel, with few reps on a short week, came into the Browns game after starting quarterback E.J. Manuel injured his knee. Tuel threw an interception that was returned for a 44-yard touchdown for the Browns, leaving the Bills with a 2-3 record.
Marrone scrambled to find an additional quarterback to fill Tuel’s relinquished spot as second-string, considering free agent quarterbacks Pat White and, possibly, Dennis Dixon, but his sights landed on his practice squad. Lewis, an undrafted 2010 free agent traded from the Detroit Lions late in the preseason, was released by the Bills before the season started, but then added onto the Bills’ practice squad soon after.
“Thaddeus has been with us the whole time, knows the system now, has been practicing with us and traveling with us,” Marrone told WGR 550. “So at the point where we are now, he gives us the best opportunity. He has experience. He has played in games. He knows the system.”
He should know the system, but so should Tuel. Marrone described Tuel as “developing,” but said he wants to see what Lewis has to offer.
Some observers have said Marrone is depending on Lewis’s minor experience playing against the Bengals while practicing with the Browns, but with the nature of evolving teams, Lewis’s minor experience cannot compare to Tuel’s work with Buffalo in the preseason and the last five games this year.
Lewis appeared on the John Murphy Show on Monday.
“I’ve prepared like I’m the starter week in and week out, even though I was helping out,” Lewis said then. “Hopefully, I can transition this week to being the starter.”
Tuel is not the first Bills player to make mistakes on game day, and he is not necessarily mistake-prone.
“I know the playbook, I know the system and I’m comfortable in it,” Tuel said after the Browns loss. “It’s just going in there and executing it.”
For now, Tuel will have to keep watching film and learning the playbook with fewer reps as he stays in position as Buffalo’s secondary quarterback. Lewis has a week to prove that Marrone is clever, and not crazy. Right now, Marrone just looks desperate.