Sources: Bills to be cautious with Tyrod Taylor, plan to start EJ Manuel in Week 17

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Buffalo Bills are planning to bench Tyrod Taylor in their regular-season finale against the New York Jets and start EJ Manuel at quarterback, league sources have told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan and his brother, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, on Tuesday, less than three days after being eliminated from postseason contention with a 34-31 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Buffalo also named offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as Ryan's interim replacement for Week 17.

After Ryan made it publicly clear Monday that he intended to start Taylor in Week 17, the Bills management had a decision to make, sources told ESPN's Jeff Darlington. Buffalo could allow Ryan to coach against the Jets for his "revenge game," which was the original plan in recent weeks, or fire him to avoid the potential risk of an injury to Taylor.

Ultimately, management felt it was wise to fire Ryan now, keeping Taylor off the field, because of the injury guarantees that would be owed to Taylor if he was hurt and could not pass a physical March 11 -- the day when he'd be owed guarantees valued at $27.5 million.

The team also does not want to take any chances with Taylor's health, especially after Oakland's Derek Carr and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota suffered season-ending leg injuries in Week 16.

"EJ (Manuel) playing is strictly for injury reasons in Tyrod's deal," one Bills source said. "We already know who EJ is, and Cardale (Jones) is not ready."

So while the Bills already made the decision to fire Ryan before Tuesday, they ultimately just pushed up that date, hence the somewhat untimely announcement that caused many players to learn about the move via Twitter, in order to get Manuel ready for Week 17.

Taylor, 27, passed for 3,023 yards, 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions this year in his second season as the Bills' starting quarterback. He also rushed for 580 yards, the most in the NFL among quarterbacks this season, and six touchdowns.

But Taylor's statistics declined in multiple areas this season compared to 2015, including completion percentage, rating, QBR and yards per attempt.

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