'09 Rewind: Missed opportunity

Despite a herd of weapons out wide, Buffalo's quarterbacks struggled all season. We continue our position-by-position review of the Buffalo Bills with the QBs. Trent Edwards failed to take a step forward. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't much better. And maybe the team has a silver lining in Brian Brohm. Analysis inside.

The Good: Not much. Trent Edwards never ascended into a franchise quarterback and Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't much better. But there were moments. Fitzpatrick, unlike Edwards, displayed a willingness to unwind downfield. His name will grace Buffalo's record books for many years after completing a 98-yarder to Terrell Owens over a backup Jaguars corner. If nothing else, Fitzpatrick justified his role as a lifer veteran backup. A start here, a start there. While he clearly has a low ceiling, Fitzpatrick should stick in Buffalo as new-age Kelly Holcomb. His final appearance against Indianapolis, albeit against reserves, warrants the No. 2 job. Fitzpatrick showed above-average velocity in a blizzard, a quality every Buffalo quarterback needs.

Also, Buffalo's midseason pickup of Brian Brohm could turn into a steal. With a full offseason to digest a new scheme, expect Brohm to compete for the No. 1 job next season. There are not many UFA options this spring and the odds are against the Bills finding a new starter in the draft. Brohm is the ultimate wild card. In college, his ability to read defenses was beyond his years. His confidence was shattered in Green Bay. But now, he's back. Do not be surprised if he evolves into Buffalo's starter.

The Bad: So many weapons, so little production. Forget that Terrell Owens will forever symbolize selfishness in professional sports. The guy can play. Even at his age, T.O. has the size, speed and athleticism to take over games. That never happened in Buffalo. The reason? The quarterbacks. Sure, injuries railed the Bills an epidemic rate. Buffalo's offensive line crumbled into a batch of leftovers. Thus, the 46 sacks.

Still, with adequate quarterback play, this offense could have been dangerous. Several coaches would kill their salary cap for an Owens-Evans-Reed trio. Their complementary skill-sets should have driven defensive coordinators into straight jackets everywhere. Instead, the status quo continued in Western New York. Whoever was under center couldn't get into a rhythm, as the Bills' passing game finished 30th in the NFL. Now the team is left wondering — yet again — which direction to go under center. This season was one, prolonged missed opportunity on offense.

The Ugly: 2009 was designed as Trent Edwards' coming-out party. Remember? Russ Brandon texted Edwards about T.O. before signing the receiver. Lounging in a Stanford hotel room, Edwards gave the signing and thumbs up. Coaches installed a no-huddle offense for Edwards' smarts to take over. Heck, he even had two sturdy backs behind him to lean on. Seemingly every move was made in Edwards' interest. This was his make-or-break season. In year three, he needed to take a defiant step forward — stay healthy and produce.

Edwards did neither. One month into the season, it was already clear that Edwards was finished.

Sad, yes. Edwards is a stand-up guy. Even through his September fade, he kept his head up. Admirable. But unless the Bills hire an offensive-minded head coach that still harbors hope in Edwards, the fourth-year pro is probably done in Buffalo. Two concussions have wrecked his confidence. He rarely waited that valuable split-second for receivers to make their breaks downfield, instead settling for ultra-safe underneath routes. Didn't matter if it was 1st and 10 or 3rd and 13. Knee-jerk checkdowns have defined Edwards' career. Maybe the concussions are to blame. Who knows. Because early on, we saw shades of Joe Flacco. Edwards displayed a bulletproof demeanor in critical situations — see: '07 win at Washington, '08 win at Denver.

But unlike Flacco, Edwards is wildly inconsistent. And now, he may be expendable. In three injury-filled seasons, he has thrown 24 touchdowns and 25 picks. That's more than enough evidence to move on.

Grade: D+



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