Bills have interim coach and interim starting QB: EJ Manuel

AP
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Aside from having an interim head coach in Anthony Lynn, the Buffalo Bills also have an interim starting quarterback: EJ Manuel.

Without going into detail, Lynn called it ''a business decision'' to start Manuel in place of Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo's season finale against the New York Jets on Sunday. Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention.

Lynn, who doubles as the team's offensive coordinator, also revealed on Wednesday that he had little - if any input - in making the quarterback switch made a day after Rex Ryan was fired.

In first saying it was ''our decision,'' Lynn later said he ''wasn't in the room,'' when the decision was made. He then added he can't speak for general manager Doug Whaley or owner Terry Pegula.

As for whether he had a preference over who starts, Lynn said the team wants to gauge its depth at quarterback with Manuel being the next in line.

The switch continues to raise questions over Taylor's future beyond this season.

Despite signing a lucrative five-year extension and restructuring the final season of his contract in August. The Bills can opt out of the deal after this season, but it's unclear if they would still have that flexibility if Taylor sustains a long-term injury.

Manuel is 6-10 as a starter, and completing the final year of his contract since being selected in the first round of the 2013 draft.


Bills, Tyrod Taylor is strictly business, but Fournette and McCaffrey is not?

So, our lesson for today — and, apparently, for the rest of eternity — is that businesses making business decisions are just fine. People making business decisions are selfish, greedy traitors.

Today’s proof: the Buffalo Bills, who are just being smart with their money by reportedly benching their starting quarterback for their final game. Not like those sellouts Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey … who are benching themselves for their final games.

Everybody recognizes this, don’t they? All these decisions are being made with future financial considerations in mind. One decision gets a knowing nod and shrug. The others rain hellfire on them, condemnation of their heart, guts and other body parts. (More on that later.)

By sitting Tyrod Taylor for Sunday’s Jets game, the Bills eliminate the risk of him getting hurt and having to be on the hook for some $27.5 million, his 2017 salary which is guaranteed for injury.

They don’t want to be this year’s 49ers, who were committed to Colin Kaepernick after he underwent two operations last year because of his injury guarantees. They’d rather be Washington in 2015, when they made sure Robert Griffin III didn’t set foot on the field for the same reason.

It’s just business. (“Not personal," as the former CEO of a certain family-owned business once noted.)

But, as every athlete at every level finds out the hard way, when the players start treating it as a business, the world starts lecturing them about it really being a game.

Thus, Fournette and McCaffrey aren’t given the luxury of treating their sport like a business and protecting their future earnings.

After all, the Bills can’t appeal to Taylor’s loyalty to the team if he gets hurt and they just don’t want to pay him what he’s due. The Bills take care of the Bills and can’t wait around for someone else to take of them.

Heck, in this instance, if reports are true, they're taking care of themselves so much that they fired Rex Ryan on Tuesday largely because he thought benching Taylor — for any reason, not just that one — was bad.

"I don’t think it’s in the best interest of our team, you know, not to play Tyrod," Ryan had said the day before.

The Bills' reply: " 'Our' team?"

Here’s what makes this so much fun, though: This Bills-Jets game is meaningless. No playoffs spots are on the line. Ryan isn’t even coming back. Interim coach Anthony Lynn’s fate won’t be decided by this game — and if it is, the Pegulas, the Bills owners, should have their team taken from them.

It's as meaningless as … a college bowl game that won’t decide the national championship. Like the Sun Bowl that McCaffrey is skipping, and the Citrus Bowl that Fournette is skipping.

To borrow a phrase, it’s not in the best interest of Team Fournette or Team McCaffrey to play.

The guarantee for the top running back picked in the 2016 draft, Ezekiel Elliot, No. 4 overall, was $24.5 million. Mighty similar number to what the Bills would risk by playing Taylor, isn’t it? And nobody’s going to draft them there and pay them that if the worst happens.

Just as the Bills have to look out for themselves, so do these two mini-corporations better known as “elite players.”

Which makes some of the reactions to McCaffrey and Fournette even more fascinating — including one, reported by Bleacher Report’s Michael Freeman last week, by an anonymous NFL front-office official who called the players “selfish p——s."

Makes you wonder what that nameless official would say about the Bills.

Probably not that. Because ... it’s just business.


Bills to start EJ Manuel in Week 17, which might say something about Tyrod Taylor's future

The Buffalo Bills didn’t want to start Tyrod Taylor at quarterback in Week 17, so they found a coach who would bench him.

Rex Ryan said Monday he was planning to start Taylor. On Tuesday he was fired. On Wednesday, interim coach Anthony Lynn said EJ Manuel would start at quarterback in place of Taylor. These events are likely connected.

“It was a business decision,” Lynn said, according to the Bills’ Twitter feed. “We want to look at the depth of our quarterback position.”

The first part is undeniably true. The second part is not. Manuel has struggled whenever he has had a chance over his four Bills seasons, and is not the long-term answer as the starter.

The problem is the Bills would owe Taylor $27.5 million in March if he gets hurt in the finale and can’t pass his physical. The Bills have an option on Taylor in March and that would be the amount of his 2017 base salary, according to the Buffalo News. Maybe the Bills will keep Taylor in 2017 at that staggering price anyway and just don’t want an injury to force their decision now. However, it seems to indicate they don’t want to pay Taylor all that money in March even if he’s healthy.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Taylor is not back with the Bills. Taylor has been up and down this season, taking a step back from a surprising 2015 season. The Bills’ new permanent coach will presumably have a say in Taylor’s future, and at least he won’t have Taylor shoved upon him due to an injury guarantee. And that’s a lot of money to pay for a quarterback who is good but not great.

The move to bench Taylor is prudent. It also seems to be an indication the Bills will be looking for a new coach and a new quarterback after this season ends.

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