Avoid the Distraction

Last week, chief operating officer Russ Brandon said the Bills plan on keeping J.P. Losman. His intentions are good. A solid backup quarterback is a must. But Losman is the wrong guy at the wrong time. The Bills must move on.

Russ Brandon made a great point last week at a predraft meeting with reporters.

The Buffalo Bills chief operating officer knows the cycle: Every season teams lose their starting quarterbacks with a season-ending injury, crushing playoff hopes and sometimes prompted full-fledged rebuilding.

With Trent Edwards entering his first season as a starter, Brandon knows this frightening possibility all too well. All it takes, is one missed block and one blindside hit.

Backup J.P. Losman has publicly stated his desire to be traded, yet remains on the team. Brandon isn't budging.

"J.P.'s on this roster and he's part of this organization," Brandon said. "I've stated it a few weeks ago and I'll state it again: we anticipate him being on this team. Sixty-four quarterbacks started in the NFL last year, I think the highest in about 30 years. You need two good ones. J.P. is under contract and he's here and that's how we're approaching it."

Great point. Wrong Backup.

Losman must be dealt. Sure, the free agent crop of free agent quarterbacks is Sahara Desert-dry. There just isn't much there (unless Craig Nall is willing to give Buffalo another chance after getting a completely raw deal). Having a disgruntlement, former starter/first round pick in the shadows of Edwards. Those thick, pointed eyebrows of childish pouting could be a team-wrecking disaster.

Players pick sides i.e. Lee Evans vouching for Losman last season. Tempers become extroverted i.e. Flutie/Johnson. The media firestorm spreads like wildfire. And the entire quarterback controversy tears the team apart. To the point of no repair.

Sound familiar?

Hasn't Buffalo had lingering quarterback controversies since Jim Kelly retired more than a decade ago? It's the single-biggest reason the Bills are in an eight-year playoff drought. There has been no stability under center, but moreso, every season a two-man race (with presidential-like bite) plagues the team. Bringing back Losman simply fosters another season of "Who said what?" "Who endorsed who?" "Is he unhappy?" One egomaniac elephant in the room.

Fans have become almost desensitized by quarterback soap operas, thanks to: Buffalo trading a third-round pick in 1997 to Oakland for Billy Joe Hobert, who publicly admits he wasn't prepared to play when filling in for starter Todd Collins, who also struggles mightily...Wade Phillips starting Rob Johnson over Doug Flutie in the 1999 Wild Card against Tennessee (even though Flutie started all season)…the Bills hanging onto Drew Bledsoe too long (wasting a solid team around him)…Mike Mularkey painfully flip-flopping between Losman and Kelly Holcomb…and last season's re-insertion of Losman leading to a critical two-game losing skid in mid-season.

Move on. The Losman experiment is over. He'll be an unrestricted free agent next season. It's a near-certainly he'll hop on Rt. 219, slam the gas pedal and leave Orchard Park next off-season. Get something, anything, for him now. Most teams have locked up backup quarterbacks, but if the Bills drastically lower their asking price, they'll find a taker. If not, cut him.

Losman isn't on the same wavelength as Brandon and the front office. Buffalo has the right mindset. Backup quarterbacks are more crucial now then ever. Financially, keeping Losman isn't an issue. He's due $2 million this season.

But when the fall-back option is at the end of the sideline, on one knee in isolation – as Losman was often last year – it's clear both parties don't have similar visions. Losman wants to start. He has participated in the team's offseason conditioning, but that's hardly a sign of contentment.

The Losman Apologists are dwindling. He was 10-21 as the team's starter. In three seasons as the starter, he never found a rhythm in the pocket. Never grasped routine progressions. And never took a stranglehold of the starting spot – even when the competition was Kelly Holcomb and a third-round draft pick. His deficiencies are unbreakable: basic fundamentals. Clutching to him for one more season is false hope. Now, Edwards isn't the second-coming of Peyton Manning. But his calmness under duress and mechanical makeup as a passer allows him to focus on more advanced improvements: reading defenses.

Only six days remain before the NFL Draft, the open season for trades in a trade-unfriendly league. Buffalo isn't going to receive a third-round pick for Losman, as that would've happened already. But any second-day pick would be sufficient. The Bills can salvage the backup quarterback situation relatively easily. Draft a second-tier quarterback in the fourth or fifth round, and scrimmage through the waiver wire for a veteran. Also remember. A handful of serviceable, experienced quarterbacks will spill into the market come August (unless the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and other teams plan on carrying 4-6 quarterbacks on their roster). What's so bad about a Trent Edwards-Tim Rattay-Andre Woodson trio? The team's future, an above-average backup, and a promising rookie.

Sure beats another season full of taking sides, Obama-like verbal jabs, and a massive distraction lurking over Edwards' shoulder.

Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of the Buffalo Football Report. Contact him at thdunne@gmail.com

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