Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone gave a long explanation on Monday for how practice squad quarterback Thad Lewis became the team’s starter for their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
From the Bills official website:
“At that point it was a process of trying and going out and getting the best veteran possible that had the ability to play and win, that was the best fit for the team. At that time, right, wrong or indifferent we went obviously withKevin Kolb. The next situation that came in was how many you go to camp with now. Now you’ve got a young quarterback, obviously we liked Jeff Tuel and we had Kevin Kolb with us. So the situation went back to how do we develop the young quarterback, how fast do we bring him along? So we went to camp with three. Again, if someone was to tell me you were going to have these injuries, I would have went to camp with four, but that’s difficult to know because obviously our goal was developing the quarterbacks.
“Obviously what happens is Kevin gets injured, EJ is in and really develops faster than we expected in that short period of time. Now we’re in a decision of, “Hey, this guy is going to play. He’s going to be our quarterback.’ Then we get an injury to EJ and that’s where Jeff had been playing and playing very well. Jeff at the time that Kevin Kolb was injured and EJ was injured, was the only guy that knew the system of what we were doing, that’s why we didn’t play him in the Detroit game. So what we did was we went out and brought in two veterans in our opinion. Even though Thaddeus might have been a younger guy, Matt Leinart has been around longer and really put them in a tough situation. To come in here and play on a short week and go in there. We made a decision to go with obviously Thaddeus. We were fortunate at that time that Thaddeus had practice squad eligibility.
“What we didn’t want to do if you look at it from the standpoint of Jeff Tuel, the way he played in the preseason and you look at his numbers, really outside of EJ probably played as well as any young quarterback in the league. What we didn’t want to have happen is someone go ahead and take away our young developing quarterback from under us. So we made a decision to go with two on the roster, with EJ and Jeff. Then having Thaddeus on our practice squad. So in doing so we’re working the reps going in and then I think what happened the other night is obviously an injury occurs to EJ, we put Jeff in there which is a tough situation.
“I think you always look at yourself and I brought Jeff in and spoke to him, ‘Hey it was a tough situation, it was a short week, very difficult to go in there. We feel that you’re a good young developing quarterback. We’re very excited about having you’ and Jeff’s response to me was, ‘Coach I appreciate it, but my job is to go in there and win the game.’ That’s the way he went about it. So I talked to him about the next process after that is obviously at first what you want to do is you want to make sure at any position, never mind obviously the quarterback one also, is you go out and you say ‘Ok, is there anyone outside that is out there that’s better?’ I think you’re doing that with every position all the time.
“You want to look there to see if anyone is better and then what we did is we went out and we had conversations with some quarterbacks. Again you’re involved with Russ Brandon, Doug Whaley, myself, Jim Monos, Nate Hackett obviously are involved with what we’re trying to do. Then all of a sudden all of this stuff starts going out. You’re going to this person, talking to that person.
We wound up bringing in two quarterbacks for a workout. I think that was well documented. We brought in Pat White and we brought in (Dennis) Dixon. We brought them in for a workout, at the end of the day we worked them out and we thought after working them out, which was the best available to us at the time, we thought it was best to us to move on and play with Thaddeus. Thaddeus will start. What happened today was this has been going on, obviously a long thought process.
“I’m one guy that tries to make sure that as soon as I get information I get it out. The decision was going through the night, sleeping on it, waking up this morning. I had a team meeting, I wanted to make sure that they knew as soon as I knew, as soon as the team found out then after that I was fortunately or unfortunately I had a media session that I was planning on not answering that question unless I was asked. I was asked that question and I just shot him straight. Scott (Berchtold) didn’t know about it until I came out of the meeting, Russ and Doug and myself, we knew about it prior to that meeting.
“Then I had to get with the players because I really showed up two minutes late to the meeting because I was still talking to Thaddeus and I wanted to talk to Jeff. Whether it’s right, wrong or different, I’m trying to give you guys a time frame of the process of everything we’ve done.