QB Jeff Tuel got the nod as QB EJ Manuel's back up during the team's first preseason game against the New York Giants Sunday night. Tuel looked sharp completing 12 of his 17 passes for 74 yards and connected with WR Robert Woods for the team's lone touchdown of the contest.
"I just had a lot of fun," said Tuel. "Tried to stay within the system and just move the ball and just did what we've been doing all camp and it ended up working out."
Numbers aside, Tuel's command over the field and his offense took center stage several times throughout his time under center, most notably being the drive culminating in the Woods touchdown. Tuel was efficient and appeared calm in a collapsing pocket and for the most part made accurate reads down field for completed passes to four separate receivers. Now a year vested in Buffalo's offense Tuel admits his comfort level is at an all-time high.
"Just my knowledge of the system is really the biggest thing and the knowledge of the defenses and our new quarterbacks coach, Todd Downing, has really helped the room out a ton with that stuff," said Tuel, "I feel a lot more comfortable and confident with the schemes and protections so it's allowed me to take a jump."
Tuel also secured four first downs including one on a 3rd-and-1 pass to Woods. He was bailed out on another 3rd-and-6 play when he was sacked. The Giants were called for an illegal contact penalty extending the drive. After a short pass to Anthony Dixon on 3rd-and-goal from the six-yard line came up two yards short, head coach Doug Marrone chose to let Tuel and the offense go for it on 4th-and-goal from the two.
On that final down, Tuel, with the defense showing blitz, took the snap from shotgun, a short drop and hit Woods on an out to the front left corner of the end zone under tight coverage from Jayron Hosley.
"I thought it was a better catch than throw honestly," said Tuel. "It was a little behind him so I thought Robert a heck of a catch on it … Robert is a competitor and I know he wanted the ball and he'll do anything he can in his power to get open and get the ball. Some of it was progression and another was pick a side and if the guy is hot you just keep feeding him."
Tuel got the credit from Woods, however.
"He was a quick trigger," said Woods. "He was seeing it, throwing the ball and letting it go, making plays. Just confident being in the pocket with a year in for him. It's nothing new for Jeff."
As the first half of play was coming to a close, Tuel was once again at the helm of the second string offense and was staging a good looking two-minute drill drive.
After a seven yard completion to RB Anthony Dixon, the offense switched to the no huddle where Tuel completed two of his three attempted passes all of which targeted WR Chris Hogan. The Bills looked poised to put another touchdown on the board drive, but Tuel's attempted pass to T.J. Graham deflected off the receiver's chest and was caught by Cooper Taylor.
"I felt good about the ball location and felt good about the decision," said Tuel. "It was just a fluky play. The defender got a hand in there and it went straight up in the air and nine times out of 10 it's not going to work in your favor."
Head coach Doug Marrone did not want to make too much of the decision to play Tuel as the backup Sunday. Tuel wasn't caught up in the assignment either. He's choosing to focus on building off his first performance.
"I can't predict the future, but I just went out there with more knowledge of the playbook and confidence and just executed," said Tuel. "Nothing is set in stone here. It's just the rotation I guess for this week. I've just got to keep getting better to establish myself in being that second guy. But I'm not going to weigh too much into it and just look forward to the next practice and get better."