Tyree Jackson vs. Chad Kelly is Ali vs. Frazier

As far as Buffalo preseason quarterback battles go, the second half of Thursday's Bills-Colts matchup might be worth sticking around for

Joe DiBiase
August 07, 2019 - 1:45 pm

Photo: Mark Konezny - USA TODAY Sports


More often than not, the National Football League preseason is a drag. It's too long, you hardly ever see the starters, and the second halves are generally filled with players you've never heard of before.

The Buffallo Bills will open their preseason against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night at New Era Field. One thing that can make the preseason interesting is young quarterbacks, and the Bills-Colts matchup will feature two young quarterbacks that each have a curiosity factor. 

The Colts will not be playing Andrew Luck, who is trying to recover from a calf injury in time for the regular season. Backup Jacoby Brissett, who's actually performed decently well in Luck's absence in the past, will likely play a good chunk of the first half.

After that is when it could get interesting for those in attendance and watching on TV. 

Indianapolis has two other quarterbacks on it's roster. Phillip Walker is an undrafted, third-year pro who has spent most of his first two seasons on the Colts' practice squad.

The Colts also have Chad Kelly. Yes, the nephew of Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. The former Denver Broncos and Ole Miss quarterback is currently battling to make an NFL roster for the 2019 season.

It'll be interesting to see what type of performance Kelly puts up on Thursday night. He'll always be a curiosity to Bills fans, just because of who his uncle is.

It's also interesting to see if Kelly could put some pressure on Indianapolis to make a tough decision at quarterback. Kelly battled his way to becoming the backup quarterback in Denver last season. He very well could have started games, if he hadn't been arrested on Halloween and then released from the roster. The Broncos were not competing to make the playoffs, and only veteran Case Keenum stood in Kelly's way between himself and the field. He blew that opportunity.

If he flashes some of the same things that got him to being the Broncos backup, maybe Kelly could make the Colts' active roster with Andrew Luck banged up.

If Kelly doesn't put on a show Thursday night, and the rest of the preseason for that matter, he may very well be out of shots to make the NFL.

It's not a coincidence that the team that gave him this shot is coached by Frank Reich. Even Reich hasn't shied away from that connection. 

As for the Bills, I'm so glad that Tyree Jackson is the third quarterback instead of Derek Anderson, just for the sake of making the preseason interesting. Jackson will be a reason for Bills fans to stick around into the second half. His size and athleticism would've been reason enough to be curious, but to add on top of that, he went to the University at Buffalo. 

Jackson has, at best, had an inconsistent training camp, and has done nothing to make anyone think that he could overtake Matt Barkley to be the Bills' backup. Could that change in the preseason? From what it sounds like, Jackson would have to light it up, beginning to end to make that a possibility. 

More realistically, Jackson is fighting to be the Bills' developmental quarterback, who could one day take over for Barkley as the backup. The Bills should want that to happen.

Jackson's strength's and weaknesses are similar to that of starting quarterback Josh Allen. In an ideal world, you'd like to have a big-armed, athletic quarterback that you wouldn't have to change the offense for, if Allen ever went down with injury. Jackson could one day be that. Thursday night against the Colts could be our first real look at how close he is to being that guy. 

You normally have to try a little to find things to watch for in the NFL preseason. It shouldn't be that hard for Bills fans in the first preseason matchup, when they'll be seeing plenty of Jackson and Kelly playing quarterback.

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