Buffalo scored 30 offensive touchdowns last year. It was a strong 24th best in the league. Rian Lindell hit 78.9% of his field goals and Buffalo finished an even stronger 28th in that category. We also had a 1.25 to 1 ratio of attempted field goals to offensive touchdowns. That was the 27th best in the league. And my personal favorite, our Bills turned the ball over 29 times. The team also had 9 turnovers on downs and their 38 total turnovers tied Houston for the 3rd most. That Dick Jauron style offense never really happened last year and only four teams turned the ball over more times than Buffalo did. Now, this may look like I'm doing my usual talk people down from their unrealistic expectations routine, but considering that Buffalo had a decent year despite all that (insert soft schedule comments here) actually has me thinking that a little growth from Trent, a new center giving this team a fighting chance on 3rd and 1 and that TO character really could push this offense into the top 10-15 in the league.
The first thing to discuss is whether Buffalo's 38 FG attempts from last year (4th most, behind only NE, PHI and NYG) is a good thing or a bad thing. Obviously it's a negative when your thinking about how the season went last year, but if your using that number to try and forecast how the Bills' offense is going to do this season, then I think it's a good thing. The fact that Buffalo had that many drives resulting in a chance to score is a positive. Add in Buffalo's 30 TDs and their 68 drives that resulted in a TD or FG attempt was the 16th most in the league. Not great, but not terrible either.
Here's a positive stat: Buffalo only punted 53 times last year. It was tied with Indy and Houston for the 4th fewest in the league. Want to know why Chicago traded for Jay Cutler? Here's one reason, Denver only punted 46 times last year. It was 4 fewer than NE who punted the 2nd fewest. San Diego was the other team to finish ahead of Buffalo. Chicago on the other hand punted 96 times, the second most in the league.
The obvious thing to factor in is JP Losman's ineptitude. In just 3.5 games (AZ, MIA, NYJ, half of SF), Losman turned the ball over 9 times. The Bills also managed to have 4 drives end on downs with Losman at QB. Talk about clutch. They only turned the ball over on downs 5 times in Trent's 12.5 games. So including downs, the Bills turned the ball over 25 times with Edwards at QB. Let's also subtract Robert Royal's two fumbles because I doubt that whoever takes over his role is going to fumble once per every 15 touches or whatever Royal averaged. So that's 23 turnovers and if you extrapolate that out to 16 games then it's 29.5 turnovers. If you include the turnovers on downs for each team, then Edwards' extrapolated turnovers would have been the 13th fewest in the league. Not too shabby.
Losman also struggled to put this team in a position to score points. Buffalo had 11 drives with Losman at the helm that ended in either a TD or FG attempt. As a team, Buffalo had 68 of those drives, so Trent had 57 of them. Extrapolate that out and it's a hair short of 73. Believe or not, but that would have tied Arizona and Green Bay for the 8th most in the league.
So with Edwards at QB, Buffalo didn't turn the ball over too often. They punted far less often than your average team and had more drives into scoring territory than all but the best offensive teams. Rian Lindell should bounce back this year considering that he hit 88.9% of his FGs in 2007 and 92% in 2006. So it all comes down to those 38 attempted FGs to 30 offensive TDs ratio. Things really might be as simple as finishing off drives with TDs instead of field goals for this offense to take off. I know that's a tall task, but it's the kind of thing that a little improvement from Trent, a few more third and short conversions and some guy named TO might be able to pull off.