Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Quarterback Quiz: Buffalo Bills

The next part of my quarterback analysis continues with the Bills.
Buffalo Bills (7-9): Trent Edwards

Signal-calling duty in the frigid north New York football mecca this year was split between fourth-year starter J.P. Losman and rookie Trent Edwards, and as the season wore on, it became more apparent that the Bills were looking to Edwards as their primary QB. He started Week 4, 5, 7, and 8 (the Bills had a bye in Week 6) before missing the next four weeks due to a wrist injury. He returned to finish the last five weeks of the season for Buffalo, and his performance showed that he's still a rookie and has a lot left to learn -- he completed 22 of 36 against the Redskins, 11 of 23 against the Dolphins, 13 of 33 against the Browns (in the impromptu "Snow Bowl") 9 of 26 against the Giants, and 16 of 30 against the Eagles. Trent's final numbers on the year were somewhat serviceable, but by no means stellar: 7 TDs against 8 INT, 1,630 passing yards and a 70.4 passer rating. This was a change for the highly regarded prospect, who was a three-year starter at Stanford and racked up passer ratings of 110.29, 139.01, and 120.55. He's never thrown for a great number of yards -- his high was 1,934 set in junior year -- and he's had trouble raising the TDs higher than the picks -- his ratios were 9 : 11, 17 : 7 (again during his junior year) and 6 : 6 (his last season was curtailed by a broken foot after only seven games).

His collegiate career suggests he can develop into a decent frontline starter, but not a star -- he was taken in the third round and his Stanford record was 10-20 (then again, the Cardinal isn't exactly, say, the Gators or the Buckeyes in terms of NCAA programs). Edwards was, however, rated as the third-best quarterback available in the draft (behind LSU's JaMarcus Russell, taken by the Raiders, and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, taken -- finally -- by the Browns) suggesting that the class might have been a bit thin that year. (Then again, neither Russell nor Quinn have had a chance to prove themselves in a consistent role as NFL starter yet, and all three are still young). If you wanted to learn more than you ever wanted to know about Edwards, you can read his Stanford questionnaire here.


What have you learned since coming to Stanford?
"There are a lot of overachievers." (Yes, Trent, there are. That's why they go to that school).

Least favorite food:
Asparagus. (I hear you).

If you had to cook all your meals, you'd survive on:
Scrambled eggs. (Not much of a foodie).

Ten years from now, I'd like to be:
Happy. (There are worse things to aspire to).

The best advice I received was:
Never go to Cal. (Spoken like a true Stanfordite).

J.P. Losman, the Bills' other QB option, finished 4 TD/6 INT/1,204/76.9, and is still young at 26, but has expressed a desire to be traded since he's unhappy in Buffalo. There has been some dissension in the ranks since Losman was originally and unquestioningly cemented as the Bills' starting quarterback (per statements from management) and then was abruptly relieved of his duties midway through the year, angering both him and other teammates. Statements from Losman's agent seem to indicate that his prospects for remaining in Buffalo are dim; if they don't trade him, he'll leave, and is frustrated with the lack of support he received from the team.

An unhappy player isn't the player you want to count on, and so the Bills may be forced to go QB-hunting in the draft again this year. They took Edwards last year, in 2007, and their only other internal option for a backup if Losman leaves is third-stringer, seventh-round pick Gibran Hamdan, who's played in exactly one game since 2003 and has exactly one completed pass to his pro-career credit. The situation isn't resolved, they may want to keep Edwards, or they may want to see what they can get in the draft -- if they trade up picks again, and depending on who falls where, they can have access to a talented 2008 class that includes Brian Brohm of Louisville, Matt Ryan of Boston College, Chad Henne of Michigan, Colt Brennan of Hawaii, Erik Ainge of Tennessee, John David Booty of USC, Paul Smith of Tulsa, Sam Keller of Nebraska, Matt Flynn of LSU, and Andre Woodson of Kentucky. Of course, at 7-9, the Bills aren't bad enough to get their crack in the draft until after woeful showings such as Kansas City, St. Louis, Atlanta, and of course the luckless Dolphins get to pick, so they'll have to see what's left for the taking.

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