How rare is it for an undrafted rookie quarterback to start week one of the regular season? As it turns out, it’s extremely rare, and if the Bills are indeed forced to play Jeff Tuel in their starting rotation against the Patriots, it will be the first time in the common draft era (1967 – present) that the scenario has played out.
Marrone: Plan now is for QB Jeff Tuel will start week 1 against the New England Patriots.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 26, 2013
Jeff Tuel will be 1st undrafted rookie QB in common draft era (since 1967) to start season opener when he starts Week 1 for Bills. (Elias)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 26, 2013
That simple fact got me wondering, can Jeff Tuel do the unthinkable and win the Bills’ starting job? The short answer is yes, he can, but let me tell you exactly what that scenario looks like.
Obviously, Doug Marrone and the Bills are hoping rookie E.J. Manuel is healthy enough to play against the Patriots. Really, he gives them a far better chance to succeed than Tuel does. For Tuel to pull off a small miracle, however, Manuel can’t get healthy enough for week one. Preferably, for Tuel anyway, Manuel wouldn’t be ready for week two either.
The next ingredient is a big upset. Wait, what’s that? Oh, right, the Bills toppling the New England Patriots in week one of the regular season would get a lot of people talking, and frankly it’s a possibility. The Patriots are as weak now as they’ve been in the past decade, and with a great performance by Tuel and the rest of the Bills, an upset isn’t completely out of the question.
Next, Jeff Tuel must win over Buffalo and the Bills’ entire fan base. With a big win against the Patriots, it would be very difficult to pull Tuel in favor of Manuel, especially if Tuel won the game for the Bills. If that was the case, expect Marrone to tell us that Manuel is still a little banged up. Once Tuel turned in a bad game, Manuel would be inserted into the top spot.
That brings us to the final ingredient of a Jeff Tuel takeover, a winning streak. For Tuel to secure the top spot on the team’s depth chart, he’d have to win a few games to start the season. That would allow him to lose a game here and there without being yanked out of the starting lineup. Following the season opener against the Patriots, the Bills play the Panthers, Jets, Ravens and Browns. Each one of those games is a winnable affair, and if the Bills could win four of their opening five games, Tuel could actually stick as the Bills’ starter.
Obviously, this entire scenario is extremely unlikely, but then again, so is the chances of an undrafted rookie quarterback starting week one of the regular season, but that seems as if it may come to pass. Maybe, just maybe, the stars have aligned for a magical run by Jeff Tuel and the Buffalo Bills.