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Ballad of the Unknown Quarterback

In addition to a strong arm, decent mobility and a degree from Duke, internet research reveals that Buffalo’s new quarterback displays a rapier-like tongue when involved in political debate:


Oh. We Want Marangi’s overstaffed research department tells us the above clip is not, in fact, Thaddeus Lewis, who makes his first start for the 2-3 Bills this afternoon against Cincinnati, but Thaddeus Stevens, who apparently did something or other important enough to get himself portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in some movie.

So we go into today’s game unsure of the new quarterback’s stance on the equality of man.

Or much of anything else about him.

Even his height is in question.

FOXSports lists him at 6-foot-2.

Yet the Buffalo News says he’s almost two inches shorter, which offset a productive college career in the eyes of all 32 NFL scouting departments before the 2010 draft.

He went undrafted largely because he’s only 6-foot, one-quarter inches, and he’s not an elite athlete by NFL Draft standards.

We can’t even be certain whether to refer to him by his given name, or the abbreviated version.

“You can call me either. My preference is Thad,” he told Toronto Sun columnist John Kryk.

Since he’s giving us the option, though, we’re going with Thaddeus, due to its greater rhyming-headline potential.

Unlike E.J. Manuel, whose thoughts and preferences have been explored in depth from the moment the Bills selected him in the first round of April’s draft, right up through the moment he sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, Lewis is a pretty blank slate.

His NFL experience involves a meaningless season-ender against Pittsburgh on behalf of the Browns last year, and a little more than a half in an exhibition this summer — less than a week after signing with the Bills.

No one can possibly predict how Lewis will look today against Cincinnati’s defense, whichheld New England to six points and ended Tom Brady’s streak of games with a touchdown pass at 52.

The best-case scenario involves C.J. Spiller being healthy enough to share a heavy workload with Fred Jackson, while Buffalo’s defense stymies a Cincinnati attack that has managed 19 points and a single touchdown over the past two weeks, keeping Lewis as irrelevant as possible.

This being the NFL, though, he will have to make at least a few plays for the Bills to have a chance at reaching .500 today. And, with Manuel out for at least a month, Lewis will need to do significantly more than that to keep even delusions of contention alive until Halloween.

You would think he can’t possibly do worse than Jeff Tuel, whose nightmarish quarter-plus in Cleveland forced Lewis’ promotion from the practice squad. If you have any doubt that starting a guy who was not on the active roster a week earlier is Doug Marrone’s best option today, please watch the following, starting at the 4:40 mark.


(And if you have any doubt that Tashaun Gipson went for Manuel’s knee, or at least was not especially unhappy about having damaged it, start at the 4:14 mark, paying special attention to Gipson’s reaction. There is really not a legitimate reason to celebrate stopping a quarterback after he scrambles for a first down on third-and-8.)

But Lewis could turn out to be even more inept than Tuel, showing why St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit were all willing to let him move on. Or he could be a revelation, flashing the skills that led all of the above and Buffalo to give him a chance.

Until the Bills and Bengals kick off, he is whatever you want him to be.

Whether he proves to be a competent-or-better quarterback or a reason to rip the Bills for their handling of the depth chart, Thaddeus makes for a great story.

At least until some time shortly after 1 p.m. this afternoon.

David Staba has written about the Buffalo Bills, among other topics, since 1990 for a variety of outlets, including We Want Marangi since way back in 2012.