Field Goals: Backup quaterback battle

Field Goals will be a feature on different Bills topics leading up to and through training camp. If all goes well, I’ll break down the topic before offering three points to the focal point of what I’ve written. Get it? Three points…field goal…

It is the position battle everyone is going to be watching. Ironically, the position battle between Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young could boil down to who ends up holding the clipboard in 2012.

There was no secret that Young was brought in to provide better competition for Thigpen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He also represents a more viable option as a potential back up. Unlike Thigpen, Young has proven he is capable of winning at the NFL level. In fact, his play could eventually incite a quarterback controversy; that is a fact most came to accept once he was signed.

Considering that the entire team has only been playing in shorts and helmets to this point of the offseason, there isn’t much to be gleaned from how each performed during OTAs and mini-camps. The real battle will begin once the pads are on and the Bills are fully into their preseason schedule.

I’m anticipating that each will see significant time with the first, second and third-team units during the exhibition schedule. Each should get a fair shake with the second unit during practices with that performance having an impact on who has the edge entering preseason games. However, preseason games one, two and four should allow the pair to rotate through with each unit as the coaching staff makes their decision.

Young has to have the slight edge entering camp for a number of reasons. His resume all but speaks for itself , despite his struggles over the past few years. He is capable of winning games and has a versatile skillset that Thigpen just doesn’t possess.

One thing that should give Thigpen an edge is his familiarity with the offense. While Young is still learning most of the offense, this is year number two for Thigpen. While he isn’t as mobile as Young, Thigpen’s been a pupil of Chan Gailey for some time now which favors his ability to perform in this offense.

If Young is the one to claim the number two spot, I see the chances of a quarterback controversy growing immensely. With Thigpen, there is little threat to Fitzpatrick losing his job whereas Young represents a true threat.

Thigpen is certainly a capable backup, but it would see as if he instills far less confidence in his team than Young does. In addition, Young probably represents a more volatile threat to opponents. All things being equal in terms of grasping the offense and quarterbacking skills, Young would get the edge because of his explosiveness.

Wildact Factor

It is no secret that Vince Young’s bread and butter is in the running game. He had solid passing numbers in college but could instantly change a game with a long run. That has never changed and his familiarity with a read option offense (see: Wildcat) makes him that much more useful to the Bills, or any offense. However, the Bills already have a player they signed specifically for the Wildcat, Brad Smith. If the Bills decide that Young is their man, there is little need for Smith to be on the roster. Young can do just about everything Smith does but with a more realistic threat of throwing the football.

Pure Passing Skill

Tyler Thigpen didn’t win very many games when he was a starter with the Chiefs. However, he showed that he is a proficient passer. Now, last year he wasn’t impressive with the brief game action he saw. While I question is overall ability, especially compared to Young, he certainly is a more polished passer than Young is. For what it’s worth, Young’s career passing numbers are strong, it is his mechanics that pale in comparison to Thigpen.

Just Win Baby

When it comes down to brass tacks, Vince Young is the guy I want as my back-up. Young has found ways to win games no matter what kind of situation he is thrown into. He doesn’t have an ideal throwing motion and he’ll run all over the place for a six-yard gain.  But he wins and that is the name of the game. The fact that he has proven himself as a starting quarterback in the NFL makes him a much more attractive option for the Bills.

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