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Buffalo Bills officially name EJ Manuel to start at quarterback

By The Sports Xchange  

Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel passes against the Chicago Bears. Interim head coach Anthony Lynn of the Buffalo Bills made it official Wednesday when he announced that EJ Manuel would start the season finale in New York against the Jets over Tyrod Taylor. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Interim head coach Anthony Lynn of the Buffalo Bills made it official Wednesday when he announced that EJ Manuel would start the season finale in New York against the Jets over Tyrod Taylor.
"That was a business decision and we want to look at the depth of our quarterback position, and we're out of the playoffs so we want to see what these other two guys can do," Lynn said, overstating the case.
Checking the depth has nothing do with it. This was all about not risking Taylor to injury, which could potentially lead to financial suicide.
Taylor, who did not speak to the media on Wednesday, is not playing because if he were to get hurt in this game and still be incapacitated on March 11 when the new league year begins and the Bills have to either pick up the option on his contract extension or cut him loose, it would cost the Bills dearly.
If an injury were to occur, and Taylor is cut, the Bills would have to pay Taylor $27.5 million, and it would all count against the 2017 salary cap.
If the Bills decide to keep him, he would be guaranteed $30.75 million (a portion of his 2018 salary would also come due), but his salary cap number would be approximately $15.9 million.
Thus, if the Bills have already decided $30.75 million for a healthy Taylor in 2017 is too expensive and he will not be brought back, sitting him was the only choice they had, and Lynn said he understands the logic.
"I'm fine with EJ Manuel starting the game," Lynn said. "For me, it's always the next man up. If Tyrod Taylor pulled a hamstring we'd be going with EJ, so that's kind of my approach."
As for Manuel, he knows he's only playing because of the business of the game, but he's nonetheless happy to get the opportunity to play, especially with free agency in his future because it's one more game he can put on tape.
"It's a great opportunity to go out there and win," said Manuel, who is 6-10 all-time as the Bills' starter since being drafted in the first round in 2013. "I think there's no better way to end this season, even though it's not what we wanted to finish, but to finish 8-8.
"Obviously, we're losing (Rex and Rob Ryan), so as a team we want to band together and show that we still have unity. For me, personally, I just want to go out there and execute and do my job."
--When a players' coach like Rex Ryan gets fired, naturally, the players aren't going to be too happy, and that was the case inside the Bills' locker room Wednesday.
"You know, I owe Rex a lot," guard Richie Incognito said. "He gave me the opportunity to come here and re-establish myself in the NFL and I shared that with him yesterday. I just thanked him for everything he's done and giving me the opportunity to come back and play.
"And yeah, I'm disappointed. Rex is my guy and like I said a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to fight with him as many ways as possible. And we just came up short."
Defensive shortcomings were the ultimate detriment to Ryan's two-year tenure in Buffalo. He came to town boasting that the Bills would lead the league in defense, but the cumulative performance over 31 games was mostly shoddy.
"We just didn't play at the level that we like to play at," said linebacker Jerry Hughes, one of the chief culprits in the under-performing group. "As players we understand that the season didn't go as we wanted it to. We know that we can play better so we understand that we've got to be better as individuals."
Ryan doomed himself with his defense, and some in-game management problems which have dogged him going back to his days in New York, but several players felt they were responsible for his firing.
"This league is all about players," Incognito said. "Coaches coach, they put you in position to make plays and you have to go out and execute. We're the guys on the field not executing.
"A lot of finger pointing can go on right now, but what players have to understand is the finger points right back at them. We're the ones that have to execute and Rex losing his job is on us."
Safety Corey Graham agreed with Incognito that the players let Ryan down.
"I mean, we're all in this together, to be honest with you," Graham said. "It goes with the coaches, with the players, everybody. No one person is responsible for this, it's all of us. We all got to go out there and play hard and when it's all said and done, we just have to find ways to get victories."
-- QB Tyrod Taylor, who is not expected to play in the season finale due to financial considerations, will finish the season with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, a 61.7 completion percentage, and a team-record 580 yards rushing by a quarterback.
-- TE Charles Clay has 18 catches for 209 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games.
-- RB LeSean McCoy has been responsible for 72 first downs, ninth-most in the NFL.
-- LB Lorenzo Alexander has slowed down lately, but he is tied for second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks. He's also tied for the team lead with 11 special teams tackles.
-- CB Stephon Gilmore has five interceptions, tied for second in the league, and the most by a Bills player since 2012. He also leads the team with 12 pass breakups.
-- QB EJ Manuel, named to start the season finale in New York, has not started since the middle of the 2015 season, when he went 0-2 while Tyrod Taylor was recovering from a knee injury.
-- RB Reggie Bush has carried 12 times this season and he has minus three yards.

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