The same questions Rex Ryan got after the team's first preseason game only persisted after Thursday night's one-point win over Cleveland. Which quarterback would be starting the all-important third preseason game, widely seen as the final major dress rehearsal for the starters? The straight shooting Ryan took evasive action with his answer. Why?
"Again I'm not going to make that decision until we play Indy," said Ryan in reference to the opponent for the regular season opener. "Competitive reasons or whatever, go for it. We don't need to tell them. Until the league makes us tell them we can just go right up in there and not say anything. We may know, but why would we say any different? The quarterbacks we're talking about they're all different so plan for all three of them. I think that's smart on our part."
The three-man quarterback competition hasn't had a whole lot of twists and turns, but both EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor left their head coach impressed with their performances at First Energy stadium Thursday night as each got a half of action.
"I was proud of both of those quarterbacks," Ryan said. "I thought both of them did a nice job for us."
Tyrod Taylor completed 70 percent of his passes and converted three consecutive third downs on the opening drive of the game. On a 3rd-and-7 at the Buffalo 18-yard line, he fired a strike to Deonte Thompson on his left for 13 yards. Four plays later he found Charles Clay over the middle for an 11-yard gain to convert a 3rd-and-8. Three plays after that he made good on a 3rd-and-4 on a quick hitter to Marquise Goodwin on the right side for another fresh set of downs.
His best throw of the night however, may have been his 3rd-and-4 throw to the Bills sideline to Thompson that probably traveled 40 yards in the air for a 22-yard gain and another third down conversion.
Taylor admitted that practicing against the Browns for two days gave them a good feel for how and where they could have success even without their top three receivers dressing for the game.
"Being able to practice with (the Browns) early in the week we were comfortable with our matchups outside," he said. "We knew if we had individual coverage we would take our guys over their defensive backs. Their team played well, but we just liked the matchups and coach did a good job of game planning on third downs. We didn't get specific, but he did some things where he thought we could have some success. That's what we did."
On the final third down of the drive Taylor unfortunately was sacked for a six-yard loss, which led to a long field goal attempt. His other drive to the red zone also led to a field goal attempt as his intended touchdown pass for Deonte Thompson was knocked away.
"I think Tyrod did a great job for us," said Ryan. "Statistically 7-10 (passing), which is pretty good. You can win a lot of games with that kind of percentage. We were disappointed that we never knocked it in the end zone. We had two shots of it in the red zone. He drove us down and had two opportunities in the red zone and we came up short. That was unfortunate. We missed a shot, I thought we had a chance to throw that touchdown but came up short there. Overall I was really happy with the way that Tyrod played and obviously you saw some of the plays that he can make with his legs."
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman inserted some read option plays for Taylor and called his number on a couple of plays. On a 2nd-and-8 Taylor successfully kept a read play and gained 10 yards to move the sticks. His longest run of the night was also a designed quarterback read that he kept and took for 21 yards to get the offense its second red zone opportunity.
"I liked the fade route with (Deonte Thompson) against their corner," said Taylor of their unsuccessful attempt in the end zone. "We didn't hit it like we wanted to. We got three points out of it. Those are the situations that you wish you had seven points out of."
Meanwhile EJ Manuel came out determined to make some plays. Despite an inexperienced offensive line front of him, save for center Kraig Urbik, Manuel did what he could when he was under duress. Buffalo's first three possessions with Manuel netted just 18 total yards and three first downs.
But with 7:24 left at their own 14-yard line and down a touchdown, Manuel orchestrated a 12-play 86-yard drive to win the game.
On the first play of the drive he put a 31-yard pass on Chris Gragg at the Bills' 45 for a 31-yard advance. He then hit his next three pass attempts for 10, 10 and 15 yards, with two more caught by Gragg.
On 1st-and-10 at the Browns' 13-yard line he hit Tobais Palmer with a bullet in the end zone, but the ball was raked away for an incompletion. On 2nd-and-10 he went back to Palmer, who was stopped just short of the goal line at the one.
Check out the best photos from the Preseason Week 2 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns at Firstenergy Stadium.
After a one-yard plunge by Ricky Seale on 1st-and-goal from the one failed there was a false start penalty on second down. Come 3rd-and-goal at the two Manuel was sacked and fumbled with under two minutes to play. On 4th-and-goal at the 14, Manuel saw blitz and checked out of the play at the line. He then hit Andre Davis with a pass up high where the long, lanky receiver could snare it for a touchdown.
"They all out (blitzed) us and I just tightened up the line," said Manuel. "They did a great job giving me a second and a half to get the ball out and Dre made a great catch."
That was followed by a successful two-point conversion as Manuel zipped a quick pass into RB Bronson Hill for the game-winning points.
"G-Ro and discussed if we scored which play we would use for the two-point (conversion) so as soon as we scored we dialed it up and executed it well and won the game," Manuel said.
The third-year QB finished 9-14 passing for 111 yards and a TD.
"I thought EJ had a couple of great passes," said Ryan. "When we gave him time I thought he was terrific."
Neither Manuel nor Taylor had much of a reaction to Ryan's revelation Thursday that he intends to hold on a quarterback decision until Week 1 of the regular season. They've been this patient, so waiting another few weeks doesn't seem to affect them.
"I'm just focused on getting better day by day," Taylor said. "I don't know when a decision is going to be made. That's not really a focus of mine right now. Just better myself and every time I get a chance to go out and show what I can do go out there and do that."
"Yeah that's fine," said Manuel of coach Ryan's QB plans. "Like I said just keep battling one day at a time and see what happens."