Tarvaris Jackson is in and Vince Young is out.
That much — and little else — is known about the Buffalo Bills’ No. 2 quarterback spot.
Jackson’s arrival via trade with the Seattle Seahawks was made official Monday afternoon, hours after the team announced Young’s release.
Dressed in his red No. 7 jersey, Jackson took part in a few individual drills, but mainly studied the play sheet and worked with quarterbacks coach David Lee during practice in the team’s field house. Just how quickly the Bills can get him up to speed — and they don’t have a lot of time — will determine which direction the team goes Friday, the deadline to set its 53-man roster.
“It is not ideal time-wise and I understand that, but you do what you have to do,” coach Chan Gailey said. “It is not an easy call.”
Just 12 days remain before the Bills open the season Sept. 9 against the New York Jets.
Can Jackson get enough of a grasp on the offense between now and then, to the point Gailey would feel comfortable putting him into the game in case of an injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick? And if not, would the team take the unusual step of keeping Tyler Thigpen, and thus four quarterbacks (Gailey confirmed again Monday that Brad Smith is the No. 3) on its 53-man roster?
“Probably you can’t carry four,” was General Manager Buddy Nix’s answer, although Gailey struck a slightly different chord.
“You never know. We are going to do what is best for the team, I know that. It is not going to be an easy call whatever direction we have to go,” he said.
The Bills want to get Jackson at least a few snaps in Thursday’s preseason finale in Detroit.
“Let him get in the huddle, get a feel for things and see how we do it,” Gailey said. “I’d like for him to play if he can get enough in his system from now until then, which I think he can just meeting with him for the short time I met with him.”
Jackson flew in from Seattle at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night to meet his new team. The cram session started right away during an hour-long meeting with Gailey and Lee before Monday’s practice.
“I feel like I am a pretty quick learner, so it is different terminology but mostly the same concepts. I just really have to erase all of that stuff I had in my head the last six years and just try to learn this new system,” he said.
Learning the system was not the problem for Young, both Gailey and Nix said. Rather, it was a matter of consistency.
“Anytime you do not have consistency, whether it is guard, defensive end, linebacker or whatever it is, if we do not find consistency then we are looking to create competition,” Gailey said.
“That is where we are right now. We had not found the consistency that we want.”
Nix made it clear he wasn’t interested in dwelling on what went wrong for Young.
“I don’t want to get into what he can do and can’t do, it just didn’t work out,” the GM said. “Vince did everything he could. He worked hard at it and did everything we asked him to do. It just didn’t work.”
Asked later whether Young had adequately learned the offense, Nix replied: “Why do we keep talking about Vince’s problems? Vince is gone.”
As for Thigpen, his knowledge of the system is not in question. What is, is his ability to execute it.
“Obviously Tyler hadn’t jumped up there yet either consistently so we’re going to try and find somebody that will give us consistency,” Gailey said.
Jackson has one year remaining on his contract. The deal has reportedly been reworked to carry a maximum value of $3 million.
Thigpen would make a $2.5 million base salary this season if he’s kept on the roster.
The Bills will give up a seventh-round draft pick to the Seahawks, but that pick can reportedly turn into a sixth rounder if Jackson is active for six games.
“He’s a strong-armed guy, a good athlete,” Nix said of the traits that attracted them to Jackson. “He throws a deep ball well. A big, strong guy that we think can, athletically, do what we need to do.
“Maybe getting in the right place and the right system, he’ll blossom. He’s bounced around a little bit, but who knows, we’ll give it a try. We know he’s got the ability to do it.”
“As a quarterback, and as a player, you just want to feel like you are wanted,” Jackson said. “And that is all I really want so I am here to do whatever they tell me to do.”