The Lingering Losman Question

Now that Trent Edwards is undoubtedly the starter in Buffalo, where does that leave J.P. Losman? Will he be a distraction this season? BFR's Marc Heintzman offers his take inside...

One question still lingering this off-season is the situation with J.P. Losman. Everyone is well aware of the quarterback controversy that erupted last season with the emergence of Trent Edwards as the Bills' starting quarterback. Some feel Losman was treated unfairly, others feel he deserves to be the backup QB because of his sub-par performance. There were calls this off-season to trade him, but he remains on the roster, and a part of the team as OTAs move into their second week at One Bills Drive.

The Edwards/Losman conundrum began in week three of last season, during the first offensive possession against the Patriots. Losman was injured after a hit from Vince Wilfork and the rookie Edwards took over, playing in his first NFL game. The Bills lost the game, but over the next few weeks, Edwards turned a lot of heads with his very relaxed and efficient play. He led the team to victory against the Jets and the Ravens, and almost upset the Cowboys in the thrilling Monday Night game in October. However in week eight, Edwards suffered a sprained ankle and Losman came back into the picture to reclaim his starting role.

Although he picked up wins against the Jets, Dolphins and Bengals, Losman played very poorly during the time when Edwards was injured. The team suffered back-to-back embarrassing losses against the Patriots and Jaguars. Losman was yanked after week 12, making way once again for the more refined Edwards. Edwards would finish out the season as the starting QB, with the team going 5-4 when he got the start.

Edwards didn't put up monster numbers or even get the team into the playoffs. However, his poise and mature play impressed Dick Jauron, who is keeping Edwards as the starting QB this off-season and into the 2008 season. Edwards was also named to the 2007 All-Rookie team at the end of the season.

Losing his starting position to Edwards was obviously a point of contention for Losman. This isn't the first time he's been stripped of his starter title. In 2005, the struggling Losman was shelved for veteran Kelly Holcomb, who was named the starter by then-coach Mike Mularkey. However, Losman rebounded from that confidence blow by turning in a much better campaign in 2006. He threw for over 3,000 yards, 19 touchdowns, and finished the season with an 84.9 QB rating, which was good for 11th best in the league.

One has to feel sorry for Losman, who continually gets demoted, and then thrown back into games, with the expectation of producing big numbers and wins. With such a roller-coaster career as a Bill, Losman will most likely have a difficult time when it comes time to sign with another team. He is in the last year of his contract with the Bills, who have made it clear that Trent Edwards is their starter, and still has yet to prove himself to other teams who could potentially sign him after the season is over and his contract expired.

Losman realized this, and requested a trade through his agent this off-season. The Bills didn't listen, and Losman remains a Bill. Some believe this will cause rifts in the locker room during what could be a very promising season for the young Bills team. Russ Brandon, the Bills' chief operating officer, has stated that they intend to keep Losman as their backup.

Keeping Losman may cause some awkwardness and unwanted drama in the locker room, but it is ultimately the best choice. Losman has to accept that he will be a backup for this season, and for the most part, he already has.

Many have viewed Losman as an immature, surfer-boy during his time in Buffalo, but he deserves a lot more credit. Losman is a stand-up guy who has taken many blows, but continues to get back up. Despite his offseason plea for a trade, Losman was present on the first day of OTAs last week. He's shown he can swallow his pride and do his part as a member of the team. It's because of this work ethic that keeping Losman will be ultimately beneficial for the Bills. I'm thinking Losman, despite being unhappy, won't cause any problems for the team in the coming season. He's said he will do his work, and be ready to perform when the opportunity arises. This is a very respectable move on Losman's part, as he could easily make the situation much worse for the team by creating a divide in the locker room.

With Losman at least content at where he'll be next season, the situation works well for the Bills. They have a solid backup QB, without having to sign an overpriced veteran or inexperienced rookie. Losman is a veteran who is already under contract and knows the team and coaches. Without a trade on the horizon, the Bills will have to hope Losman stays the respectful player he is right now, and avoid any sort of QB controversy during training camp and the upcoming season.

mdheintz@syr.edu


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