Chris Brown, lead journalist at BuffaloBills.com, had a blog post up Friday afternoon that I'd like to draw your attention to this morning. It deals directly with Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey's comments to 97 Rock regarding the impending battle for the starting quarterback job.
Brown's entire post can be read here. I wanted to flesh this thing out a little, as for the first time, we've got a little insight into Gailey's thought process as we inch ever closer to that moment where he'll make the fateful decision.
Those of you who had talked yourself into the idea that rookie seventh-round pick Levi Brown could win the job - well, you'll need to pop those thinkin' caps back onto your noggins. Gailey all but confirmed that the race will be between Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm:
"We’re trying to give the three guys that were here last year an equal opportunity to win the job, or at least give us somewhat of a pecking order going into training camp."
Levi Brown was never really a viable starting option, but that statement etches that fact in stone. We're now down to a three-horse race, and that's where things get interesting.
Gailey also provided insight into what qualities the team is looking for from their starting quarterback. The preferred quality makes sense, even if it can be a little subjective and ambiguous:
"If we can come up with some idea of who has the best feel for the position and what we’re trying to get done… now you always try to adapt to what the players do best. So we’ll adjust to whoever has the best feel for the game and can make the most plays on the football field."
Essentially, that can be boiled down to this: Gailey is going to start whichever player makes the most happen on the football field; that player will have good command of the offense (I doubt that'll be a problem for any of the three contenders), good rapport with the offensive ones (again, not a problem for any of the three), and a flair for making some plays.
I don't think there's any reason to doubt that Gailey was being straightforward with these responses. For one, this insight doesn't dramatically point to one contender as being head and shoulders above the others (more on that momentarily). For another, the new regime of Gailey and GM Buddy Nix have been nothing but straightforward all off-season. "Stacking players on players," anyone?
Keeping that in mind, I'll echo a statement that I made earlier this year: Fitzpatrick, at least in my mind, has a slightly better chance of winning the starting job than either Edwards or Brohm. True, Fitzpatrick's long-term potential is significantly lower than his two competitors', Brohm's in particular. Sure, Gailey would probably prefer that one of the younger guys emerge as that player that has the best feel for the game this pre-season. They'll have that opportunity, obviously.
It's only June. There's still plenty of time for the pecking order to re-arrange itself. But knowing what we know about these quarterbacks, and keeping Gailey's comments in mind, I don't think there's any question that Fitzpatrick has the early leg up on the competition, even if that lead is not significant enough to matter in the long run.