Moving Forward: Edwards ready to take charge

The BFR continues its training camp positional previews with a look at Trent Edwards and Buffalo's quarterback situation. With Turk Schonert calling the shots, Edwards should prosper...

Quarterbacks 2007 Stats

Trent Edwards: 151-for-269, 1,630 yards, 7 TD, 8 Int.

J.P. Losman: 111-for-175, 1,204 yards, 4 TD, 6 Int.

It's not a matter of statistics.

It's a matter of substance.

Trent Edwards wasn't overly flashy in his rookie season. Take away a home blowout win against Miami, and his line reads: three touchdowns, eight picks. But he proved to be the anti-Losman.

Reel back that Washington game.

Five days after the shocking death of Sean Taylor, Edwards had the awkward task of playing the villan against Washington. With 56 ticks left, and the Bills down 16-14, Edwards drove Buffalo 60 yards for a game-winning field goal - highlighted by an ice-in-the-veins 30-yard gun to Josh Reed in traffic.

In three seasons as the Bills' starter, Losman never could find a rhythm. He was often jittery and unsure in key situations, and stumbled to a 10-20 record as a starter. If Buffalo recovers an onside kick against Dallas, than Edwards would have started 5-0 as a NFL quarterback. That's the bottom line. Wins and losses. Edwards is the team's best shot at return to the playoffs.

During the Bills' minicamp sessions, new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert has molded Buffalo's offense into a new identity. He's infusing bits and pieces of Sam Wyche's Cincinnati Bengals teams. Schonert was a backup on those high-flying offenses, learning behind Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason.

In Year Two, Edwards will not be Esiason. The up-tempo, downfield offense that Schonert wants to develop will take time. But at least he isn't waffling. Steve Fairchild teased Bills fans last year at training camp with a hybrid of the St. Louis Rams' Greatest Show on Turf. But when push came to shove in the regular season, Fairchild's play-calling fell into run-run-pass-punt predictability.

Schonert is adamant that while Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and Buffalo's rushing attack will be its strength, he's going to take shots into the secondary.

"We will throw the ball down the field,'' Schonert promised. "We're not just going to be a dink-and-dunk offense. We have some explosive guys.''

Schonert is toying with possibilities never thought of before. Roscoe Parrish not in the slot, rather on the outside. Josh Reed motioning and operating in the slot. And get this – a fullback in the backfield.

Edwards hasn't taken this opportunity lightly. He showed up to off-season workouts much bigger, stronger and in a comfortable command of the offense. Losman has kept a low-profile, so at least for now, the locker room remains content. Quarterback controversies have consumed the entire franchise for the past decade. The Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson, Drew Bledsoe/J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb/J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards/J.P. Losman debates ripped locker rooms, the fan base and kept the Bills out of the playoffs.

First and foremost, Edwards must take unquestioned control of the offense in training camp. Keeping Losman around is risky. Several veterans – like wide receiver Lee Evans – have been Losman supporters. Are the Bills asking for yet another exhausting merry-go-round under center? Maybe. But don't count on it.

Edwards seems to have the thick skin to deal with the immense pressure he'll face this season. Lynch's hit-and-run scandal and the seemingly inevitable move to Toronto have whipped the Bills franchise into turmoil. A calming presence is needed to right the ship – a role that suits Edwards perfectly. He isn't easily rattled, and possesses veteran-like fundamentals to absorb the Xs and Os of the position more quickly. Losman – on the other hand – lacked the basic route progressions to evolve mentally.

A lot hinges on rookie James Hardy.

Arguably the offense's biggest Achilles heel in '07 was the lack of a receiving threat opposite of Lee Evans. If the 6-foot-6 Hardy can start immediately and force defenses to get out of Cover 2 defenses, Edwards should be effective against man-to-man defenses. His intermediate efficiency will eventually make Buffalo's two-dimensional from there.

Grade: B

A fast start is key. Look at the Bills' schedule. Seahawks, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams, Cardinals, Chargers, Dolphins, Jets. A 5-2 start is very, very realistic. And it boils down to No. 5. If Edwards can exploit the poor NFC West pass defenses, the Bills will join the playoff discussion early. Look for him to be solid, if unspectacular. And that's all the Bills' revamped defense needs to work with.

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