What a difference a win makes. Yesterday we were debating an 0-16 season helmed by a rookie quarterback and a defense that can’t stop anybody. Leave it to the New York Jets to restore the hopes of Western New York.
No matter who you talk to, there is one word guaranteed to be associated with Trent Edwards: poise.
It’s that simple. Edwards was poised, kept calm, made his throws and got the W.
For the most part, Edwards looked like a veteran quarterback out there this afternoon. He made quick decisive reads and almost all of those reads were the right ones. He put the ball where only his receivers could catch them and gave them an opportunity to make a play after the catch. Very rarely did a receiver have to pull out of his route to make the catch. Nearly every ball was a bull’s eye. You don’t go 22/28 for 234 yards by mistake, even if you are the first rookie quarterback to start for Buffalo since the immortal Todd Collins.
It might have been a simplified playbook but Edwards still needed to make those throws. Losman wasn’t and that’s why, if Edwards can repeat this type of performance on Monday night against the Cowboys, we might be staring into the eyes of a Quarterback Controversy.
Bills fans are all too familiar with that beast in the Post-K-Gun Era, from Flutie-Johnson to Losman-Holcomb. All we want is a capable, competent quarterback and, fingers crossed, maybe Edwards is that guy.
And although it might have been a simplified playbook, the offense somehow opened up a lot more. Coach Dick Jauron and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild put the game in Edwards’ hands early, calling pass plays on nine of the first 12 offensive plays of the game. They got Lee Evans involved early as well. Evans had six catches for 72 yards, both of which were more than his season totals going into Week 4. Whether or not Evans should have made more of an effort on the Edwards duck that was intercepted in the end zone is a debate for another day. I’m just happy to see Evans catching balls for positive gains again.
Edwards also had good chemistry with Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish, proving once again that Peerless Price is pretty much useless no matter who is under center.
Granted it was against the Jets defense and not the Steel Curtain or the ‘Roid Rage Radio Helmet Patriots, but we actually saw the tight ends involved in the offense. Michael Gaines, who I had never heard of until today, caught a touchdown pass, marking the first time a tight end has scored for the Bills since Jay Riemersma. The offense opened up because Edwards understood his reads, checked his receivers and did it quickly and efficiently.
Edwards never looked flustered on the field. Even on fourth and one in the fourth quarter he rolled out to find Gaines, eyes always focused on the end zone. He avoided the pass rush, kept his legs moving and hit his open man cutting into the middle of the field. He made it look easy. He stayed calm in the huddle and never panicked when the ball was in his hands. There were a few times when he waited to long to throw and took the sack, but that’s to be expected with an quarterback once in awhile.
It’s funny how good the offensive line looked today too. By making quick reads and getting the ball to his receivers mid-route, Edwards stayed out of trouble against the pass rush. Making throws also allowed the run game to thrive. Marshawn Lynch still had to fight for a majority of his 79 yards, sometimes carrying three guys with him to get a first down, but making the defense actually worry about the pass opened up the ground attack.
With Losman on the sidelines, look for Edwards to get nearly all of the snaps with the first team offense this week in practice. With the 4-0 Cowboys coming to town on Monday Night Football, it marks Big Wade Phillips’ return to Buffalo as a head coach. With the national spotlight shining on Orchard Park next week, it’s Edwards’ chance to shine and prove that he’s the answer Bills fans have been looking for since 1996.
And hey, the defense didn’t play half bad either.