'Quarterback controversy' is a term, and a situation, that has been all too prevalent for the Buffalo Bills as a franchise over the past decade. Not many NFL teams have had as many questions surrounding football's most important position in that time frame, and that fact alone speaks volumes towards the fact that the Bills are on the verge of missing the post-season for a tenth consecutive season.
The current Buffalo Bills, who stand at 3-6 on the season and are looking at an off-season of massive changes, are now staring down the barrel of perhaps the most feeble and meaningless quarterback controversy in team history: Trent Edwards or Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Dick Jauron on Monday wouldn't commit to a starter. When the Bills begin preparations for Week 11 on Wednesday, Jauron is expected to announce his starter for that particular the game. Unfortunately for Jauron and Buffalo, there isn't a right answer to the question - which, of course, only emphasizes the total, utter chaos these Bills seem to be on the verge of.
Arguments predominantly against Edwards
I say arguments for and against Edwards because the fact of the matter is this: the only argument that holds any water in favor of Fitzpatrick is the quickly-ripening "Edwards just isn't good enough" argument. There's absolutely no reason that a player of Fitzpatrick's caliber sees the field unless it's due to injury, or if it's due to a complete, epic collapse on the starter's part.
Edwards is on the outskirts of that territory. Though his numbers weren't awful in the Bills' Week 10 loss in Tennessee (18 of 28, 185 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), the offense - and, in reality, the team itself - began to collapse around him on Sunday. Receivers openly questioned his reads on the field and on the sidelines. Jauron himself mentioned post-game that the offense "missed things" on the field. Edwards continues to play as if he trusts no one around him, nor himself. How is a team, in any state of array or disarray, supposed to rally around a player they don't trust in any sense of the word?
In terms of this specific controversy, Jauron may be forced to put Fitzpatrick into the lineup simply to avoid the mutiny that could ensue if Edwards doesn't improve (and there's no reason to expect that to happen). If the fact that Jauron may be forced to play a quarterback based solely on damage control doesn't speak volumes about his future with this organization, I don't know what does.
The common fan perspectives
There are two predominant ways that fans will approach this new, exciting controversy. The most common perspective will be that Edwards is clearly the superior talent, and thus should start on that fact alone. It's certainly not unreasonable - the team certainly isn't going anywhere with Fitzpatrick, who has reached his professional ceiling, and we might as well play Edwards to see what the guy can do before a new coaching regime comes in. (It might be irrational, however, to expect Jauron to take that position; like it or not, the man is still coaching for his job.)
Most folks who don't fall into that spectrum will take the apathetic approach; these people will, in some form or another, say that it doesn't really matter who plays quarterback, because, as mentioned above, the team's not going anywhere with either player at the helm. Many of these folks are also so far from caring that they might nominate Gibran Hamdan or Fred Jackson for starting quarterback duties. That's a bit absurd, but it highlights the lack of caring. Why not start Edwards? Why not start Fitzpatrick? It doesn't matter either way.
I'm somewhere between those two categories. I'd like to see Edwards play for all of the reasons stated above, but I'm not going to get upset if he doesn't, because it would be difficult to blame Jauron for playing the quarterback (i.e. Fitzpatrick) that is the furthest from boom-or-bust in terms of his team's psyche. In all likelihood, we're going to see both players in significant chunks over the next seven weeks, so this decision will probably turn out to be meaningless as well.
There it is. It's not a complete lack of caring on my behalf, but more an understanding that this Bills team is on the verge of a complete meltdown from top to bottom, and this decision could turn out to be the final spark for the ensuing blaze. Fun times, folks. Fun times. With the way things are going, would anyone be surprised to see Hamdan get the nod?