Bill coach Rex Ryan was happy with the performance of the three contenders for the starting job. But his post-game comments seemed to suggest that Ryan could be cutting the competition from three to two.
Ryan told reporters that, with Matt Cassel starting the first preseason game, Tyrod Taylor will get more first-team reps and start the next preseason game. But Ryan wouldn’t comment on whether EJ Manuel will start the third preseason game.
“Why don’t we wait and we will figure it out,” Ryan said. “So we will see. [Manuel] did start the first preseason game I think, I mean our blue and white scrimmage. So every guy gets opportunities and we’ll see. But I am not going to back myself into a corner and saying I am absolutely going to start this guy. I did say Taylor would start Week Two, but I never said anything about Week Three.”
Which suggests that it could be Cassel or Taylor starting the unofficial dress rehearsal for the regular-season opener.
Ryan also declined to confirm that Manuel will be the first quarterback off the bench in the next preseason game, more evidence that he could be whittling the race down from three to two.
Still, he was happy with all three guys.
“I think pretty darn good,” Ryan said of their play. “You know, you get Cassel the veteran. He played to his strength. And Tyrod, you saw what he can do you got a little magic to him. And then EJ steps in and it’s unfortunate EJ is four-of-eight, I think, passing.”
Ryan realized that the numbers for Manuel could have been even better but for some drops.
“Four-of-eight passing and two tight ends decide they were tackles,” Ryan said. “You have to catch the ball. This is the National Football League — you have to catch the football. So I was disappointed with that obviously, that’s some big plays, run after the catch and unfortunately we don’t execute that. If that would have been the case EJ would have been six-of-eight, Tyrod five-of-eight, Cassel seven-of-eight. Tyrod missed, the only misses were all on deep routes, one of which I thought should have been caught. But overall I was very pleased with all three of those guys.”
It sounds like Ryan is a little more pleased with Cassel and Taylor; if either of them starts the third preseason game, that will be the clearest indication yet regarding Ryan’s potential plans for Week One.