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Mike Martz: Tarvaris Jackson deal 'good judgment'

By Tim Graham

Don't tell Vince Young a preseason game doesn't matter. And don't think backup quarterback is an insignificant gig.

The Buffalo Bills clearly believe the role is important and are bringing in their third former starting quarterback in search of a Ryan Fitzpatrick backup they're comfortable with.

Young's two-interception performance in the second half of Saturday night's exhibition loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers might've cost him a job. It certainly caused the Bills to lose confidence in him to be their top backup.

The Bills on Sunday worked out a trade to acquire quarterback Tarvaris Jackson from the Seattle Seahawks.

A source with knowledge of Sunday's developments informed me the Bills demoted Young from his No. 2 job before the trade was finalized.

As the Jackson trade was being hammered out Sunday night, I had the chance to ask former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Martz about it.

"It's common sense and good judgment," Martz said from the Denver airport after working a game in his new role as a Fox Sports analyst. "In this passing league, when you lose that No. 1 guy, you're basically taking the air out of your team completely.

"So you want to make sure you're happy with your backup as a starter. You have to find that guy, wherever he is. Seventy percent of them will get injured. The odds are your guy's going to miss some amount of time. When that happens, you don't want to take a step backwards."

Jackson is 17-17 as a starting quarterback for the Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings. He started 14 games for the Seahawks last year. He has completed 59.4 percent of his passes and has thrown 38 touchdowns with 35 interceptions.

"He's been a little hot and cold, but he's been very good at times," said Martz, who for the past two years was Chicago Bears offensive coordinator. "His game-time experience and the fact he's played well at times is a big addition for them."

Last week, Bills head coach Chan Gailey said he was sticking with his plan to keep Brad Smith as the third quarterback and Wildcat pilot. That means Jackson probably knocked Young and Thigpen out of the box before his flight left Seattle.

Martz, the St. Louis Rams head coach when they drafted Fitzpatrick in 2005, has decades of experience in working with quarterbacks. Martz saw the writing on the wall with less than two weeks to go before the season opener.

"They feel like Tarvaris can come in and fill that role as a potential starter," Martz said. "They must be sure of that or they wouldn't make this trade. It's going to be hard for these other guys to fit on this roster.

"The Bills have made decisions with this move. Obviously, Tarvaris is going to make it."


Ryan Fitzpatrick | Tarvaris Jackson | Tyler Thigpen | Vince Young
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |