If you haven’t read Rob Quinn’s primer for comparing and contrasting the Buffalo Bills top three quarterback prospects, it’s a great read in preparation for what is likely to be the most interesting contest at training camp this year.
As Rob goes through his progressions evaluating various position groups for fans leading up to training camp, I will respond with my ‘wyobabble’ side of the equation. As you can see from Rob’s great Vines, there are strengths and limitations in terms of physical skills with each of the three quarterbacks vying for the starting job.
What sets EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel, and Tyrod Taylor apart in terms of personality, leadership style, and other behavioral factors critical to their success? These gentlemen may share some similar traits, but on the surface they appear to be quite different.
In terms of the mental aspect of the game, and specifically the role and function of an NFL quarterback, EJ Manuel might have the most difficult road ahead of the three candidates. While Manuel admitted that his game was too tentative in the past, and that he plans to just “rip it” when he gets his next opportunity, his demeanor doesn’t necessarily suggest he’s evolved much in that direction. Yet.
Huh? Under Doug Marrone’s regime, we all saw how EJ’s personal shine seemed to diminish as time went on. Along with ruining an adequately performing offensive line, Marrone’s abrasive personality was obviously a poor fit for a tadpole quarterback that needed more reassurance and less harsh criticism.
In retrospect, it appears Nate Hackett must have stood in the shadows while Marrone took a machine gun to what little swag the Bills offense had after Chan Gailey departed. It seems obvious that EJ was asked to be something he was not in terms of his style of game.
While it’s rarely productive to whine about the past, in this situation I will take the liberty to do so because helping young quarterbacks become productive in the NFL is tricky business if you’re not a “people person”. Perhaps we should have taken Marrone more at his word when he kept railing in press conferences that he knew he was “unlikeable” by many people.
Regardless, what we have now in EJ Manuel is an extremely talented young man with a strong desire to be successful. Things didn’t go well during his rookie and second year. Now he has a last shot at redemption with the Bills. How will he fare?
From a behavioral viewpoint, it’s very difficult to alter one’s basic ‘persona’. It will be a challenge for EJ Manuel to shed the ‘people pleasing’ side of himself and establish himself as a strong leader. EJ displays a strong desire for consensus when he interacts with others, as evidenced by his soft spoken approach to keeping things ‘chill’ with the media. He seems to be extremely wary of wanting to offend anyone.
Compare that tendency, with say… Johnny Football. Manziel is another QB in search of a rehabilitated image, arguably the flip side of EJ. Johnny didn’t seem to care enough about what other people think. Time will tell if his stint in rehab will help him learn to play well with others.
The point is, it’s tough to break a stereotype once it’s been made. Further, stereotypes do exist for a reason. It’s because there is data to support them, or they wouldn’t become stereotypes in the first place!
Both EJ Manuel and Johnny Manziel are going to have an uphill battle to convince people that they are more than what image has been cast of them to this point in their respective NFL careers. Can either or both do it? Of course. Will it happen? They are mostly in control of that outcome.
I’m significantly less familiar to observing much about Matt Cassel or Tyrod Taylor from watching them in interviews. Matt is a quarterback in the second tier of NFL starters, much like Ryan Fitzpatrick.
He is a polished professional, has moved around, and always seems to land on his feet. He is calm, steady and not a fire and brimstone kind of guy. At the same time, he has developed a very nice demeanor that fits in and out of various programs in terms being a starter, a mentor, and a role model for developing young quarterbacks.
While his ceiling has likely already been established, he certainly holds the ability to be at least as effective as Kyle Orton was last season with the Bills. Frankly, in my opinion this team has enough talent to succeed with a ‘second tier’ quarterback anyway.
From a mental perspective, Matt Cassel has more to offer the Bills than meets the eye. He has the ability to be a guardian of the position until the Bills next franchise quarterback is identified. However, it’s obvious the Bills would love for the real fight for the position to be between EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor.
Tyrod Taylor, now there’s our real mystery man. He blew into Buffalo piquing the curiosity of a fan base desperate for a marquee quarterback. Is he the next Aaron Rodgers after sitting behind Flacco for several years? Or, is he just another guy that will put on a Bills uniform and end up tossed in the ever-increasing pile of quarterbacks that ended up being a bust in Buffalo?
Despite my limited ability to get face time watching him, I find Tyrod to be the most intriguing of these three Bills quarterbacks. He presents himself with an aura that is a mixture of confidence with just a hint of swag. He maintains control of any conversation with the media through the use of intense eye contact.
It’s not hard to see this man has a burning passion to succeed, quietly powerful and quite impressive. He is the quarterback with the most upside potential in terms of leadership skills of the three from my vantage point.
To be fair, Tyrod comes in with a lot of potential and very little baggage. EJ has to regain the confidence of his teammates that he can push through his rocky start with the team. That may prove to be much more difficult than working on his mechanics.
In summary, each of these guys has something special to bring to the table. Each also has their own challenges that will require major work on their part to break free from the stereotypes that have been made about them. Tyrod Taylor brings the least amount of exposure, which arguably puts him in a position of piquing our curiosity the most right now.