A Not-So Difficult Evaluation

by Ryan

It’s easy to look at things in hindsight and call everyone stupid for not seeing it. That’s the easy part when you’re writing about sports. The teams are always wrong and the players aren’t good enough and the fans are stupid.

Fans, players, coaches and the media all play a different part in the sports world, and so often one side assumes the other side doesn’t know what they’re doing. So when things happen, everyone has a different take on it simply because they are seeing it from a completely different angle.

That isn’t necessarily the case with the dismissal of Trent Edwards. In fact, most people are pretty happy to see him disappear altogether. I have pretty mixed feelings on the matter because I happen to agree with what Tim Graham and a few others have said about the team’s perception around the league. Getting rid of a player that was your starting quarterback eight days ago is an unusual move.

The only way that move makes any sense to outsiders is if he was making noise about losing the starting job. He wasn’t doing that in the media, but if he asked to be moved or was doing damage to the team than it makes sense. The only other thing I can think of is that the Bills didn’t shop him, rather his agent leaked that story as a way of forcing the team’s hand. Or something. Since no one has said anything about that, I doubt that’s the case.

What’s fascinating to me about Trent Edwards is that the things we loved about him at first are the things that eventually got him waived in Week Four. Remember all the people who raved about his game management and his ability to check it down instead of forcing throws?

He was differnet than J.P. Losman, someone who relied on his arm and “guts” to make bad decisions. Edwards wasn’t any of those things, his cautiousness was characterized as “thoughtful” and “smart.” In the end, Trent’s destroyed confidence and durability issues got the best of him. He was never the same after that hit in Arizona.

But when you really think about it, isn’t that exactly what was expected of Trent when he was drafted? Draft analysis isn’t always spot on, but listen to the words you hear in that video I put up this morning:

“He’s had some injuries”
“He’s a difficult evaluation. Poor wide receivers. Poor offensive line…”
“Durability is an issue”
“I really like him as far as a project”
“Here comes the pressure. Like usual gets hit right in the face”
“You’re getting your tail kicked every time you’re throwing the ball”
“He got hit all the time”
“He got hit all the time!”
“His upside is terrific if he’s not going to be gunshy in the pocket because he got hit all the time.”

Hindsight teaches us that Trent Edwards doesn’t have it, but looking back it’s hard to say he was all that much of a letdown. The brief scouting report says was put in the same situation that he faced in college: He got beat up because of a bad offensive line and struggled because of it.

He was a “project” on a team that didn’t have time for projects, a player with upside that showed flashes of it and nothing more. Of course we wanted to see much more from Edwards, but didn’t he live up to his projections at the time he was drafted?

The biggest problem with the Edwards Era is that the Bills are a team that is not designed to work with project quarterbacks. That’s why the Brohm Era has not started the way many people thought it would. The Bills can’t develop quarterbacks because they’re too busy developing everything else.

What the Bills need is a sure thing, and that’s why a lot of Bills fans are focusing on the draft already. It’s not because they think the season is over, they just know that the quarterback solution will come from the draft. The wide recieving core can get better over the next 14 games. The same can be said for the defense and the offensive line and all the other places where the Bills have high hopes for draft picks.

But a solution behind center is not currently on the roster, and it won’t be traded for. The Bills need a sure thing, a can’t miss that can be the future of their franchise. They need a top three pick, something they haven’t had in a very long time. If there is anything the players on that twoeightnine shirt have in common it’s that the crossed off names were all potential and nothing more.

The Bills have been unable to develop any of that potential for a number of reasons, and what remains important about this season is getting the team in a position to truly develop players. If Trent isn’t a part of that development I’m fine with it.

Just don’t ruin the next one.