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Kyle Orton might not be better option, but EJ Manuel played his way onto the bench

The Buffalo Bills are all out with EJ Manuel.

For the past year, the Bills were all in. Now they've had enough.

Manuel is headed to the bench, and Kyle Orton will become the team's 14th starter since Jim Kelly retired.

Orton didn't take a practice snap all summer. The Bills signed him eight days before the season opener. He started one game for the Dallas Cowboys last year. Before that, he lost his Denver Broncos starting job to Tim Tebow.

How the Bills wound up in this situation is difficult to declare.

Was it Manuel's inability to be a decent player?

Was it the front office's insistence not to enhance the QB depth chart through free agency or the draft?

Whenever coach Doug Marrone or GM Doug Whaley was asked about acquiring new quarterbacks over the past 10 months, he insisted the Bills were set with Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel behind Manuel.

Guess again.

Thad Lewis was cut. Jordan Palmer was signed and released. Tuel was released and brought back to the practice squad. They also got rid of last year's practice-squad QB, Dennis Dixon.

So the cocksure Bills signed zero quarterbacks between the end of last season and the end of training camp. And then they dumped four of them in a span of six days.

Then they signed Orton, a free-agent who suggested he would retire to get out of his Cowboys contract and didn't go to camp with any team.

But after two straight clunky defeats and new owners about to seize control of the Bills, there was little choice to make, really. Status quo could not suffice.

Marrone and his staff and Whaley are desperate to save their jobs.

Given the way Manuel has played, continuing to back him would be tantamount to accepting a blindfold and cigarette.

If Orton can spark the Bills and help them play meaningful games in December, then Marrone will look smart for making the change and perhaps return under Pegula ownership in 2015.

If the move fails, feh. The season probably would've been sunk anyway with a quarterback who seemed in over his head.

"I believe that we have a playoff-caliber team," Marrone said today after announcing Orton's promotion. "I think that we have to play better than we did the last two weeks, though."

I'm not going to call Marrone a liar. I'm sure he does believe the Bills are postseason material. But for months on end Marrone also believed Manuel's status shouldn't be questioned.

"Every player that we have, who we put out there, obviously we're all in with, at every position," Marrone said. "I think that, when you look at it, we're all in to win.

"I think that's what it comes down to at the end of the day, and we've got to do the best thing for us to win."

I'm not sold that Orton is "the best thing" in this situation.

But circumstances dictate some sort of change, and Orton happens to be the only thing.

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