Loads of pending drama evaporated in thin air this past week. BCS Championship quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow announced they were returning to school, dimming the light on what could have rivaled the 1983 Year of the Quarterback. A draft class of Bradford, Tebow, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Colt McCoy would have undoubtedly cranked up the thermostat at One Bills Drive.
Instead, Stafford and Sanchez are the only top-end prospects in this year’s draft pool. Sure it’s only January --- weeks away from stopwatches and scrutiny --- but it’s worth pondering.
Should Buffalo take the bait if yet another knockout quarterback prospect falls into its lap? Yes. Enough trepidation already. Roger Goodell should be in the mysterious back room for approximately 2.8 seconds if USC’s Sanchez or Georgia’s slip to No. 11 overall.
The Bills’ propensity for complacency at the quarterback position is arguably the biggest reason they’ve officially locked themselves in the cellar of the league. It’s a position that must be re-evaluated and scrutinized every season. Some think outside the box. Buffalo hasn’t.
Denver drafted Jay Cutler one year after Jake Plummer led them to the AFC Championship, and two years after Plummer threw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns.
That same draft, Buffalo ignored Cutler and Matt Leinart. J.P. Losman’s 3,000-yard, 18-touchdown masterpiece the year prior was too majestic to disturb. Turns out, that was the only season Losman wasn’t a complete disaster. Donte Whitner’s been solid, not spectacular.
Two years ago, Brady Quinn free-fell. Yes, the Bills filled a gaping hole at running back with Marshawn Lynch. And yes, Lynch is the team’s best offensive weapon. But think big picture. Buffalo may have may bypassed a Next Generation quarterback in back-to-back drafts. On the other hand, running backs are replaceable objects you can buy anywhere these days.
See the pattern? For whatever reason, Buffalo’s front office maintains blind faith in subpar quarterback play. It’s been a recurring theme ever since Jim Kelly retired. This season, the Bills must explore the possibility of making a big-splash change at quarterback. In truth, the offense’s problems lie at receiver where the current talent makes Lonnie Johnson and Quinn Earley seem like perennial Pro-Bowlers.
But just because Trent Edwards isn’t horrible doesn’t mean the Bills shouldn’t draft Sanchez or Stafford. Early mock drafts circumnavigating the world wide web have the duo getting picked all over the top 10. Sanchez is the spawn of USC’s pro-style offense that produced Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. He has a quicker release the lazy wind-up delivery of Leinart. Stafford had somewhat of a letdown this past fall --- Georgia was a consensus preseason No. 1. Still, Stafford has all the tools, including a rocket arm.
See for yourself.
Bang it here to watch Sanchez.
And here for Stafford.
In all likelihood, we’ll see strong faith in Edwards this off-season. Don’t get me wrong. He isn’t Losman by any means. The sturdy Edwards completed 65.5 percent of his passes, good for sixth in the NFL. He has a presence in the pocket the Bills haven’t had in awhile. Give him an Antonio Bryant and/or Missouri wideout Jeremy Maclin, and maybe Edwards busts out.
Any faith in Edwards is sheer speculation at this point. His success last season came entirely against a batch of the worst pass defenses in the NFL --- Seattle (32nd), Jacksonville (24th), San Diego (31st), Kansas City (28th), St. Louis (19th) and Denver (26th). In these five glorified preseason contests, Edwards threw seven touchdowns and only one interception. Naturally, the Bills were 5-0 in these games.
But in his seven other games (not including the Arizona concussion game), Edwards threw only four touchdowns with nine interceptions. Worse, he gradually became visibly frightened to push the ball downfield. Checkdowns and throwaways --- while safe and harmless --- came in an unfriendly surplus.
Does a new tight end and a rookie receiver (forget T.J. Houshmandzadeh) really make a difference? Do a few new toys change the fact that Edwards has suffered injuries in each of his two seasons? Nobody knows.
A new quarterback with a new direction would point the franchise in a new, fresh direction, or the very least give Edwards healthy competition. It's not an indictment of Edwards. More like seizing an opportunity. Edwards didn’t do quite enough last season to bring calm to the quarterback position
The news of Sanchez’s early-entry two days ago should have shaken up Buffalo’s off-season road map. Unless of course, the Bills are content with drafting strictly for need as they’ve done most of this decade.
Click here for the other side of the debate, where BFR analyst Ian Smith says Edwards is the team's future.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of the Buffalo Football Report and also writes for The Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.