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Buffalo Bills mailbag: quarterback competition, impact rookies and Doug Marrone

In this week's Bills mailbag, we're discussing what Kevin Kolb needs to do to start, potential impact rookies, the ongoing Jairus Byrd contract discussion and whether or not Doug Marrone should be helping out with the offensive line.


Happy Friday, Buffalo Bills fans! Friday means mailbag day here at Buffalo Rumblings, and I'd like to thank, as always, the handful of you that continue to send interesting questions my way via email and Twitter. Here's this week's grab bag of quality queries.

Obviously everyone is talking about (EJ Manuel) at quarterback. What do you think that Kevin Kolb has to prove to win the quarterback competition this summer? - Ben

Manuel is the franchise quarterback. As soon as he's ready to play, he'll play - and his readiness this summer will play a significantly bigger role in the starting quarterback competition than Kolb's play. All Kolb can do, really, is come out and prove that he's the Kevin Kolb we've seen shine from time to time over the past few seasons; that'll give him a fighting chance. But if Kolb is Kolb and Manuel is ready to play, Manuel is going to get the nod; Kolb would almost need to be operating at an All-Pro level for that to not be the case. That's just the way things work in the league.

I saw a story on this week about rookies poised to make an impact, and no Bills were included. Should any of the Bills rookies have been on that list? - Jon

Speaking personally, it's hard to objectively argue that Daniel Jeremiah didn't put together a good list. All of those guys could have big, important rookie seasons. His not including any Bills players isn't necessarily an indication that he doesn't think highly of them; in fact, Jeremiah was one of the more vocal supporters of Kiko Alonso in the spring months. Both Alonso and Robert Woods strike me as players that, as they step into ready-made roles with enough talent and polish to produce immediately, could be on that type of list at the end of the season. I really have high hopes for Alonso in particular.

You mentioned on the podcast re-launch that you didn't think the Bills and Jairus Byrd would start negotiating until close to the July 15 deadline. Can you explain the rationale for that? - Ed

ESPN's Andrew Brandt puts it best with his tagline: deadlines spur action. Right now, still more than two weeks away from that deadline, any offer the Bills make - fair or not - will be viewed from a "if we can get that offer now, we can get more later" standpoint by Eugene Parker. If the Bills make too many such offers, they look desperate - and if the player and agent reach out, they look less confident in the player's potential market. Negotiation is something of a neurotic process. What it boils down to is this: as that deadline approaches, the window will open for negotiations to occur and a deal to get done. The only problem is that the window will close just as quickly. The days leading up to July 15 could be pretty intense (not that we'll be privy to much, if any, of it).

I remain optimistic on this front, by the way. The Bills have no reason to not pay Byrd handsomely, and Byrd is a stand-up dude. There are no good indications that he wants out of Buffalo. I would be surprised if a deal isn't completed.

One of the things that bugs me about Doug Marrone is that he's planning on helping coach up the offensive line. Chan Gailey spent too much time on the offense as the coordinator and lost focus on the rest of the team. Doesn't Marrone run that same risk with this line coaching plan? - Michael

The obvious difference here is that it's much less time-consuming to hop in on some offensive line drills than it is to coordinate an offense. Setting aside the potential distraction of it all, we should want Marrone coaching the offensive line - he's great at it, and has consistently had good lines everywhere he's gone. There is plenty of evidence already to suggest that Marrone is more involved in all facets of the game than Gailey was, so until we have more reason to worry, I'm not going to complain. Instead, let's just savor every picture of Marrone snapping a football with his visor on backwards that we can get, because that is the kind of coach the Bills have needed for years.