One more shot

J.P. Losman (Getty Images)

With Trent Edwards expected to miss his second straight game, J.P. Losman gets another chance under center for Buffalo. With free agency looming, Sunday may be Losman's final chance to show teams he's capable of being a starter in the NFL. He'll do so against a lackluster Jets secondary...

There are no more second-chances available for J.P. Losman in Buffalo. He's used (and abused) them all up. At this point, any snaps he takes with the Buffalo Bills simply buffer his ‘bust' label. Five seasons in, Losman is still plagued by the same deficiencies that haunted him back when he succeeded Drew Bledsoe. Last week was a brutal reminder that the happy feet, overzealous overthrows and carelessness are permanent flaws that he may never fix.

With Trent Edwards (groin) doubtful, Losman is expected to start his second straight game against the New York Jets. This could be Losman's last and final audition as a NFL starter. The free agent-to-be will be playing for a contract. His time in Buffalo is up. But since the Bills have no other options – unless they wanted to throw Gibran Hamden into a pack of hyenas – Losman is the guy. Again.

And that's the one juicy subplot of Sunday's game. Buffalo's quarterback will be conducting a job interview for the rest of the league. This elephant in the room is obvious, even "inevitable."

"It's an opportunity for me personally to show that for the future," said Losman Wednesday at his press conference. "That is important. It will happen inevitably anyways. Right now I have a lot of friends on this team that I want to play well for that trust me to go out there and end this thing on a positive note."

Losman should be counting his blessings at this point.

He's been given opportunities again and again with the Bills, yet his demise sinks deeper and deeper into a Ryan Leafish funk. After last week's frightening, 16-3 defeat to Miami, Losman is now 10-22 as a starter. No question, Sunday will be his final litmus test. The Jets boast the second-to-worst pass defense in the entire NFL, allowing 251 passing yards per game. Losman squandered opportunities to exploit the 26th (San Francisco) and the 21st (Miami) ranked passing defenses. So, on a silver platter, comes the 31st. One last chance to show other teams that he can still play in the NFL.

Because last week's train wreck sure mounted some doubts.

Against a below average Dolphins secondary, Losman was 13-of-27 for 123 yards. He lost a fumble, threw an interception and was sacked four times. His pick was a costly one too. On a 1st-and-goal from the Dolphins' 3-yard line late in the third quarter, Losman badly underthrew Lee Evans on a fade in the back of the end zone. Will Allen stomached the interception with ease and the Bills never sniffed a win from there on.

Still, Losman lives to see another day… even if it's by default. Buffalo sure would love to get more game tape on Edwards to determine whether or not he's indeed their franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, the groin injury he suffered in the first half against the 49ers two weeks ago has been slow to recover. So instead of that look-to-the-future story line, the focus shifts to Losman, who has a chance to rectify an awful career in Buffalo.

New York has allowed big days to the likes of Shaun Hill (28-of-39, 285 yards, 2 TD) and Matt Cassel (30-51, 400, 3), Losman should have some open windows to throw into. The Jets do rank fourth in the NFL in sacks, having wrangled Edwards down five times earlier in the season.

It's a peculiar strength/weakness combination, but no doubt an opportunity for success.

"On paper it all looks great but on Sunday we'll find out how good their rush is and statistically if they're giving up stuff in the passing game" Losman said. "We will try to establish a run game at the same time regardless of the statistics that they have so it should be a fun challenge."

Analysis

It's really a shame.

Sunday may feel like a basketball player getting stuffed on a drive down the left lane --- trying to use his right hand instead of his left. While Darrelle Revis has been a shutdown corner for the Jets all year, a slew of cornerbacks have struggled against the No. 2 wide receivers of opposing teams. If the Bills would have practiced using that left hand more – and developed a bonafide No. 2 – Sunday could've featured a major mismatch.

Instead, Losman may be forcing that right-handed lay-up all day to Lee Evans. Hard to see Josh Reed getting separation on Ty Law. Look for Losman to struggle despite the Jets' lackluster secondary. Buffalo's offensive line has struggled protecting Edwards all year. While Losman has more mobility, he's also more accident-prone. A lot of Kris Jenkins up the middle could mean a lot of turnovers up for grabs.

Losman lacks the ability to locate second and third options on the fly --- the precise way to attack the Jets secondary. Last week, San Francisco's Shaun Hill completed passes to 10 different receivers. Hill recognized where Revis was on the field and continually located the open man. Losman, on the other hand, tends to lock in on Evans when he's not in helter-skelter mode.

Should be another long day in East Rutherford, N.J.

thdunne@gmail.com

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