Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)
Some of you may know me from the BillsInsider where I write semi-regularly. Based on the feedback I receive half of you like my writing and opinions/reporting on the Buffalo Bills and half of you think I should jump off a cliff or something. Well like it or not Greg and Dave were good enough to give me permission to contribute to this site as well.
I didn’t want to simply post the same articles on both sites (although I may do that sometimes too), so I thought I’d take a bit of a different approach here. I will be doing a position by position breakdown to start with as we follow the team through the various minicamps and training camp.
Its still early in the off-season and over the next few days many teams will be cutting players to stay under the cap. As a result, the Bills are likely to pick up a few more free agents before camp officially starts and will likely cut a few of their own as well. Because of this fact, I thought I’d start off by talking about the Quarterback position as it is the least likely to undergo changes prior to the season. (Barring injuries of course)
As it stands right now, the Bills have J.P. Losman starting with Craig Nall as back-up and newly drafted Trent Edwards as the 3rd stringer. The Bills will probably bring in a 4th scrub QB for camp who has no chance of making the squad. The top three will definitely make the team however.
Many media pundits and other assorted idiots have jumped on the sensational story that the Bills’ drafting of Trent Edwards is a sign that the team doesn’t have confidence in J.P. Losman. This is essentially ludicrous. NFL Football is a dangerous sport and all teams carry 3 QB’s on their active rosters as a result of that fact. Bills fans might remember several years back where injuries to the top 3 QB’s on the Jets led to Punter Tom Tupa playing the Quarterback position. Players get hurt, starters go down, and teams need not just 1 backup, but two. Still, drafting Edwards in the 3rd round when the Bills had other needs seemed a bit surprising. Many fans felt that a corner to replace Nate Clements could have been acquired with that pick. Not likely. The Bills would not have been able to get a Corner that would have been able to contribute any more than their current stock of guys, if he even saw the field this season.
Edwards is certainly an insurance policy against injury and would have to have a spectacular camp to even break into the number two role. Lets not forget that Losman took every snap last season so there is not a lot of reason to think that either Nall or Edwards will see the field unless there is a disaster. But a disastrous situation is always just around the corner for the Bills (and every other team in the league). It’s also true that the typical NFL player only lasts 3-5 years, so its not safe to assume that Losman will be here for the next 10 years. The Bills have to be constantly planning for the future. Where would the Patriots have been if they didn’t have Tom Brady when Bledsoe got hurt? It could happen to the Bills, but lets hope it doesn’t! Nall and Edwards are both completely unproven in the NFL. Edwards has yet to even put on the pads and Nall has never taken a snap during real, regular season play. (yes, he’s taken snaps but they were all during garbage time after Favre had already won the game.)
The main reason the Bills don’t want Nall or Edwards to have to hit the field during the regular season is J.P. Losman. The kid is playing really well at this point. Sure he can always improve, but I don’t think he has that much to prove at this point. Lets look at his stats from last season:
Losman finished ranked 11th in the NFL behind Peyton Manning, Huard, Brees, Mcnabb, Romo, Palmer, Bulger, Rivers, Brady and Brunell. Oddly enough, Bills fans seem to think that Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger are better Quarterbacks who can easily beat the Bills this season. Eli was ranked 18th and big Ben was 21st. Losman’s QB rating was 84.9 while Eli was 77.0 and Ben was 75.4. Losman completed 62.5% of his passes compared to Eli’s 57.7 and Ben’s 59.7. Losman had 14 INT’s to 19 TD’s while Eli had 24 TDs but 18 INT’s and Ben had 18 TDs and 23 INTs (worst in the league!). The Only QB in their draft class who out-performed Losman was Phil Rivers who got to walk in and play with arguably the best team in the league. Its got to be easier to play QB when your running back is LT. The reality is, based on QB rating, Losman is more comparable to Tom Brady than these other clowns. Considering that Roethlisberger was playing for the defending Super Bowl champions, its particularly bad that he was one of the worst in the league last season. I have also heard many say that Eli had an off-year. Huh, when did he have an ON year? Oh right, he didn’t… But Losman is the guy with something to prove right?
If you look at Losman’s 2006 campaign, he compared with the upper third of the league despite the fact that his Offensive Line allowed him to be sacked 47 times! This will be a reoccurring theme in the offensive positional breakdowns, but in 2006 it was not a coincidence that things improved when the offensive line was reshuffled. With the talent added to the line this off-season, it stands to reason that the team should play even better. Robert Royal came on strong at the end of the season because he didn’t have to stay back and block on every play. Kevin Everett didn’t see the field because he is more of a receiving tightend and the Bills couldn’t afford that luxury last year with their poor line play. Things will be different this season. Losman will have a lot more time to throw the ball. This means more passes will go to the 2nd and 3rd receiving option because the play will actually have time to develop to that point. Not to mention the upgrades at running back. All of the Bills current backs are also good receivers.
I watched the old Bills/Oilers comeback game on the NFL network last night and a few things really stood out. 1. There were backups playing most of the key positions in that game but it still felt like the Bills had super-stars at every position. 2. Bills receivers were making huge plays despite not being particularly large/tall. They made plays by getting open, not by out-jumping the other receivers. 3. Nate Odomes is under-sized for a corner but still made huge plays. There were other things about that team that reminded me of the current Bills, but the Beer is fogging my memory.
Looking forward to a big season (at least on offense) for the Bills. Send me your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org . Which position do you want to hear about next?