We should have seen this coming.
Buffalo's season wouldn't be complete if it wasn't tainted with a quarterback controversy. Sean Avery needs a juicy suspension. Grant Hill needs a debilitating injury. The Oakland Raiders need a messy coach/owner scuffle. The New York Knicks need a pouting millionaire.
And the Buffalo Bills need utter dysfunction at the most important position in sports.
On Sunday, the Bills will be forced to re-open the quarterback-controversy door --- a coach, a fan, a franchise's worst nightmare.
With Trent Edwards missing his second straight practice with a groin injury Thursday, all indications say J.P. Losman will re-re-re-take the helm at quarterback. Before it was Drew Bledsoe. Then Kelly Holcomb. Then Edwards. After going through most of last season and all of this season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Edwards, Losman will probably get another crack at starting against Miami in Toronto Sunday.
Seeing No. 7 – again – under center has to make Buffalo fans throw up in their mouths a bit (if the anti-tailgating, anti-fun ground rules of Toronto's pregame "festivities" aren't enough). While Edwards' injury is of course out of the team's control, seeing Losman as the starter is just another chapter in the running comedy that is the Buffalo Bills Starting Quarterback. Down in Nashville, the Titans vulture washed-up Kerry Collins off the waiver wire and go 11-1. Across the state, the New York Giants invest the farm in Eli Manning and are in line to capture their second straight Super Bowl.
There's an infinite number of ways to land a winning quarterback to direct a winning team. Since Jim Kelly retired 11 years ago, the Bills have struck out in nearly every manner: heir apparent (Todd Collins), pricy trade (1st rounder for Rob Johnson), off-the-streets flier (Doug Flutie), old wily backup (Alex Van Pelt), another pricy trade (another 1st for Drew Bledsoe), a draft-day trade (J.P. Losman), cheap veteran pickup (Kelly Holcomb) and the third-round sleeper (Trent Edwards).
When will it end? Not any time soon.
Sunday is a job interview for Losman. The '09 free agent wants to start again, and it probably won't be in Buffalo (unless of course the Wade Phillips Era is reincarnated, where knee-jerk reactions to one-week breakouts rule supreme! Poor Flutie). The can of worms will still open with each Losman completion.
You can hear the overzealousness now. Could he be the guy? Maybe he's the man after all!
Please. Game's over. The jittery pocket presence and JV-level route progressions are unbreakable flaws. Whichever team takes the bait in March will find this out.
Losman is 10-21 as a starter and still has the attention span of a squirrel in the pocket. But with another start comes another set of questions. If he plays well against the Dolphins – which is likely considering Miami's 25th ranked pass defense and Losman's historic success against the Fins – Losman will at least become legitimate again. And the Bills will need to consider sitting Edwards the next game, and maybe the next after that.
In short, this could get ugly.
Edwards sure hasn't done anything to quiet his critics lately. In his last six games, he has five touchdowns, eight interceptions and a passer rating of 73.03. And oh yeah, Buffalo has lost eight of its last eight games. If Edwards hadn't strained his groin muscle last weekend against San Francisco, head coach Dick Jauron would have rode this tsunami out the rest of the season. Such abrupt ebbs and flows were expected from the second-year Edwards.
But this is getting old. For more than a decade the Bills have been stuck in a liberal "wait and see, give him a chance" mode. Poor managerial decisions and even poorer play on the field has whipped the Bills into the Detroit Lions/Oakland Raiders heap of perpetually bad teams. Move over, Arizona.
Oh yes, Losman will thrill us all with an 80-yard spectacle to Lee Evans. Geez, such a bomb might even make those upper-class fans set down their martinis to partake in high-fives.
But don't be fooled. Losman isn't the answer – just like Collins, Johnson and Bledsoe he is another lemming walking off the plank. The true tragedy is that a week without Edwards as quarterback is passing. Sunday will be another week without knowing if Trent Edwards is the true franchise quarterback for this team.
Russ Brandon and Dick Jauron need to see Edwards fight through his dry spell. Turk Schonert needs to keep toying with his quarterback in his offense. The receivers need to keep gelling with Edwards within that offense. Playoff hopes are vanishing, but December is crucial to deciphering the Real Trent Edwards.
Instead, the punch line continues. Buffalo's starting quarterback changes yet again.