Rumbings Roundtable, 7/11: Talking Bills QB Beyond 2010

The 2010 Buffalo Bills face their own decision of sorts. Although I doubt that their decision will be aired in prime time on ESPN, if I'm honest, I'd probably watch if it was.

Between now and September 12, the Bills will have settled on a starting quarterback, and we will watch it unfold each and every week, like our own little mini-series. The choice will make some fans happy, some sad, some maybe will remain indifferent; but with each passing episode (game), we will analyze the play of the quarterback and come to a conclusion. The one question I am sure we will all ask ourselves is: was their performance good enough?

This brings us to the question of the day: how well does a Bills quarterback (take your pick as to which) have to perform in 2010 for the team to not address the position in next April's draft?

Thoughts from our editorial staff after the jump.

The man known here as 'kaisertown' starts us off:

Obviously, it depends on who that QB is. If it's Ryan Fitzpatrick, then (he'll need to perform) very, very well. Probably better than he is actually capable of performing. If it's Brian Brohm, then a promising season is enough. If he can handle the pressure and still put up YPA in the 6.5 range and an even TD/INT ratio, then I think he's worth handing the starting spot to in 2011. It's tough to say that a player needs X statistics, because one terrible game can pull down numbers so much, but that's what I'd hope to see from Brohm, and if he threw more INTs than TDs because of some awful 4 INT game, then it would be a different story. Young players should be criticized for the occasional terrible game less than established vets. I think I'd still address QB in that situation, but it would be with a mid-round pick.

Trent Edwards is tricky because he's in the last year of his deal. I don't think Buffalo can realistically re-sign Edwards to be a backup QB. That's just not how the NFL works. First and foremost, we need Edwards to be semi-healthy. He can't fail to finish two of his starts because he got hurt during the game. Between college and the pros, Trent has been unable to finish 12 of 61 starts due to injury. 20% of Edwards' starts have ended with him getting hurt, including a handful of injuries during the first drive of games. Second, I'd need to see Edwards hang tough over an entire season without having stretches where he collapsed and a general downward trend in stats over the course of the season. To re-sign Edwards, I'd need to see him do both of those and put up a YPA in the low 7s, more than a TD per game and less than an INT per game.

Brian picks up where kaisertown leaves off:

As kaisertown said, the answer to that question is contingent on which quarterback actually wins the job. I still happen to believe that Edwards will emerge victorious and start the season opener; he'll need to prove himself not only in terms of being able to consistently execute Chan Gailey's offense, but he'll need to prove himself durable, as well. It's going to be really off-putting for this team if he wins the job and then gets hurt during the season again. Gailey won't expect the moon from Edwards; all he wants is a QB he can win with. A healthy, moderately effective Edwards would do the trick. (Then the problem becomes re-signing him, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?)

In the unlikely event that Fitzpatrick wins the job, he'll need to be excellent - really excellent - for the Bills to not take a quarterback in '11. The general consensus seems to be that Fitzpatrick has the most well-established ceiling of this quarterback group, so the Bills will need to be thoroughly convinced that Fitzpatrick can lead the team for the next 4-5 years to leave the position alone. Obviously, those odds are tremendously long.

Regarding Brohm, I suppose all it would take for him to emerge as the "QB of the future" would be a) to win the job, a feat unto itself, and b) show enough promise to convince Buddy Nix and Gailey that they might have something. If Brohm did win the job, he'd have it made in the shade, because a hot streak here or there might be all it takes.

Let's not forget about Levi Brown, either - he's a factor in this conversation. The Bills reportedly had a third-round grade on the Troy product, so they like him quite a lot. If they're sufficiently satisfied by his progress in the classroom and on the practice field, that could be a big factor into their future plans at the position, as well.

But my thoughts on this matter are well-established - I don't see a starting quarterback here, and my gut tells me Nix, a man who knows his quarterbacks, is seeing the same thing. The odds are outstanding that Buffalo does something at quarterback next off-season.

MattRichWarren disagrees with kaiser and throws in his thoughts:

But kaiser, Jason Campbell did all the stuff you mention last year and still got shipped out for a pittance.  Campbell had 3,600 yards, 20 TD, 15 INT and an 86.4 passer rating and got moved over the off-season.

I think whoever plays the majority of the snaps would have to prove they are legit, but the only way to do that is leading the team to the playoffs - fair or not. Campbell had his solid season and still got moved. Even making the playoffs might not be enough. If Edwards threw for 3,000 yards, 18 TD, 16 INT and the Bills go 9-7 and get the Wild Card, he probably still gets replaced.

Brian chimes in to counter:

Matt, I don't consider the Campbell point relevant at all, because there was a regime change involved in that decision. A very high-profile regime change, at that - and the Redskins got lucky swinging a trade for McNabb. Odds are outstanding that had that trade not materialized, Campbell would still be in D.C.

I don't see the correlation at all, unless one of our QBs puts up Campbell-like numbers and we swing a trade for Carson Palmer next off-season.

MRW:

But didn't the Bills go through a regime change? Albeit a year before the QB change would happen. That's the correlation. Coaches don't like re-using the QBs that got their predecessor fired, which makes the Bills more likely to get a new signal caller next off-season. Correct my wording, but weren't you the one that said Dick Jauron took a huge gamble rolling with J.P. Losman since he's one of the guys that let the previous regime down? Aren't Edwards and to a lesser extent Fitzpatrick in virtually the same boat as Losman?

I think Edwards/Fitzpatrick would have to lead the Bills to 10 wins for this to work.

Jeff Winters jumps into the fray:

I disagree Matt. If Trent threw for 3,000 yards, 18 TD, 16 INT, stays healthy and the Bills go 9-7 to grab a Wild Card, I'd be shocked if he got replaced. I generally agree with your basic premise that new regimes want their guy at QB, but with that kind of season I think it's almost mandatory to re-sign Trent. That kind of success, performance, and most importantly, a playoff berth almost force the regime to give that QB another shot.
 
The Redskins example isn't a snug fit because Shanahan runs a West Coast variation that Jason Campbell is a pretty poor fit for. Campbell is a Bledsoe-type, who can be successful with a play-action game down the field. Additionally, as pointed out previously, the Redskins fell into the McNabb deal. 
 
As for the original question, the bottom line is that Gailey needs to feel like he can win with one of these quarterbacks, and if he doesn't, we'll be drafting one next season. I'm not sure the statistics of that QB are really relevant; Gailey's determination of their skill set is. We already know this front office/coaching staff is a little unorthodox, so it wouldn't shock me if they, for instance, made the determination that Brown has what it takes to lead the Bills in 2011, despite not having played a down in 2010.
 
I'm pretty surprised that the Bills reportedly had a third-round grade on Levi Brown. Provided that's correct, he certainly has a shot at the job next season.
MRW:
I didn't say "replaced." But they could certainly "address" the situation by bringing in a highly drafted QB. Say the Bills throw a Derek Anderson contract at him for 3 years and $24 million. If he has the season you just described, he's not worth that much money in my opinion. And Anderson had a much better season in 2007 to get that contract, even though the Browns missed the playoffs at 10-6.

Kurupt doesn't see the same hope as the rest of us:

Reading my fellow writers' comments above, there seems to be some glimmer of hope for one of our QBs to step forward as a semi-long term solution. I just don't see it. I see a trio of lesser talented, bad quarterbacks, none of whom were brought in by Buddy Nix or Chan Gailey. I'd literally be stunned into silence if Edwards or Fitzpatrick played well enough to QB this team in 2011. Brohm is right there with them, though I'll remain somewhat hopeful his first couple of seasons in the NFL aren't what he really is. I'm not banking on him being "the guy" though. I'll leave Brown out of it, because I just don't see how having any expectations for a raw seventh-rounder is plausible.

I totally disagree with you, Jeff. A mediocre 3,000 yard season with 18 TD and 16 INT just won't be good enough, even if the Bills were somehow to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7 (which I don't see as possible in the AFC this year). That's basically the same type of season that Matt Hasselbeck or Matt Cassel just had statistically, with each missing at least one game. If that's all it'd take for Edwards to keep the job, then we're going to be stuck in a rut for yet another year. This team needs a franchise signal caller more than anything else right now. A guy putting up Hasselbeck or Cassel numbers shouldn't be what the Bills settle for.

I just don't see how any of the three can do enough to keep the job. Sure, anything can happen. Maybe Brohm will turn into Eli Manning or Edwards into Drew Brees Lite, but I think its highly unlikely. I think Chris Kelsay getting 10 sacks or Reggie Corner getting 8 interceptions is more likely to happen. I just hope that one of these guys doesn't do just enough to delay the QB search another year. That's my fear at this point.

Jeff responds:

When I say that a mediocre 3,000 yard, 18 TD, 16 INT season with a playoff berth would be enough to re-sign that particular QB, in no way shape or form do I mean that we wouldn't be drafting a QB relatively high in the 2011 NFL Draft. If Edwards/Fitz/Brohm have a season like that with a playoff berth, I feel that you'd almost have to re-sign them because you'd have no one else to start the 2011 season, unless you throw a highly drafted rookie to the wolves. You need someone to hold the starting position until the rookie QB is ready, and I'd prefer if that mentor QB has at least had some mediocre success, so the rookie QB doesn't think his mentor is a total failure in the NFL.
 
The bottom line is that kind of season I described isn't quite enough to stop the Bills from drafting a QB very high in the 2011 NFL Draft. In order for the Bills to not draft a rookie QB high next year, you'd have to see borderline Pro Bowl seasons from Trent/Fitzpatrick. Brohm is a tricky case because of his potential. As Brian said, winning the QB job plus showing some promise over the course of the season might be enough.
 
At the end of the day though, it's very very likely we'll be searching for a quarterback in next season's NFL Draft. Here's hoping the front office finds the rookie quarterback options to their liking, unlike last year.
Throwing my hat in the ring:
For me, I think it is a little more cut and dry. If Edwards or Fitzpatrick win the quarterback derby, then I believe that they will draft someone a QB in 2011 regardless of performance. Obviously it becomes a little more clear if the Bills aren't successful and quarterback play in anemic. However, if it is average, then I still don't think that saves either one of them for the simple fact that it is not Chan or Buddy's guy. They didn't bring in those two quarterbacks and feel no attachment to them. And regardless of their attitudes and their coachability (as I feel it is high for both of them), they aren't moldable. They have been in the league for a few years, taken enough snaps and have habits, and those will be hard to break. If anything, they would be a stop gap; keep one if they performed well, while molding the others. I don't think that a 9-7 year, 3,000+ yards and a wild card secures their job (which I know has been bounced around).
 
The wild card is Brohm for me. Brohm has talent out the ears and is very raw, and I think Chan likes this. Chan can work with him, mold him, give him his insight and if he picks up and runs with this, then Brohm goes from Green Bay afterthought to Bills starting quarterback and "the man." However, again he would have to out perform the two ahead of them and then perform well. He doesn't have to win, mind you; I think the front office will forgive losses but not production.
 
As for Brown, unlike Brian, I don't think he's in the mix. Anything is possible, but I just wonder when the opportunity would pop up for him. If the Bills stink with the Edwards/Fitz combo, they will both be gone and unless Brohm regresses he'll stick around. This leaves Brohm and Brown and the 2011 man, who depending on when they were picked, could be the top dog from day one.
 
And to be honest, it would be gutsy to pass on either Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet or even Andrew Luck in 2011.
Der Jaeger builds off this with the analytical approach:
First Criteria: QB "X" has to start all games in which he is not injured, and more than 13 total games.
 
Second criteria: QB "X" has to have a 2-1 TD-to-INT ratio, with more than 20 passing TD.
 
Third Criteria: QB "X" has to complete 60% or better of his passes.
 
Fourth Criteria: Combination of stats and team wins over non-franchise QBs that have reached potential. This is a bit more complex.
 
I don't think solely putting a statistical standard on QB performance is a good measure of effectiveness. I say this because an average QB can play in a good system surrounded by great players and put up very good stats (guys like Jake Delhomme, Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Brad Johnson, Marc Bulger, Jon Kitna are good examples).
 
Wins can also be deceptive. Kyle Orton won eight games last year, but I don't consider him as good as Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, who also won eight games.
 
I'd start with a pecking order of AFC QBs that are better than our current guys: Manning, Brady, Palmer, Roethlisberger, Flacco, Schaub, and Rivers.
 
Regardless is one of our QBs develops, none of them are going to have better stats or post more wins than these QBs if they're healthy all year.
 
They could, however, have better statistical years than Sanchez, Henne, Delhomme, Young, Garrard, Orton, Campbell, and Cassel. Of those QBs, Buffalo could post more wins than Miami, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Oakland, Denver, and Kansas City.
 
So, my fourth criteria is for our QB "X" is to post better stats that 3/4 of the above QBs, and for Buffalo to finish ahead in the standings of Miami, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Oakland, Denver, and Kansas City.
 
Now, all of that said, unless QB "X" is the second coming of Drew Brees, this guy drafts Locker or Mallett if they are available when Buffalo picks in 2011.

So what does it take the prevent us from getting some QB help in 2011? You've heard our thoughts; let's hear yours.

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