Both Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey stated that they planned on bringing in a bunch of players and have them compete for their jobs and so far have lived up to their word. With two weeks to go until the start of training camp, let’s take a look at the positions that are up for grabs.
Quarterback is the biggest battle that every Bills fan will be keeping an eye on throughout training camp and into the preseason. Chan Gailey has left Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm all in the dark as to who he feels has the best shot of being the starting QB by not telling the three QB’s who will be taking which reps with which unit of the offense come the start of training camp. Once training camp starts on the 29th, everyone will know then who will start camp with the 1st offensive unit and so on.
Trent Edwards has shown flashes at times that he can be a starting NFL QB, especially after a 4-0 start in 2008. After getting demolished by Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, Edwards has regressed and has opted to throw the shorter, safer passes instead of hanging in the pocket and trying to hit the deep ball, hence the nickname “Captain Checkdown.” It didn’t help Edwards’ progression last year as he went through another offensive coordinator, as Turk Schonert was fired and Alex Van Pelt was named the Bills offensive coordinator just 10 days before the start of the season.
Brian Brohm, a former 2nd round draft of the Green Packers has impressed Gailey during the last 2 weeks of OTA’s. Can Brohm regain his confidence and start to live up to the expectations of him when he was drafted in the 2nd round?
Ryan Fitzpatrick, was picked up last season via free agency to backup Trent Edwards, but since Edwards struggled and fell out of favor with Dick Jauron, Fitzpatrick was named starter for the rest of the season. Fitzpatrick play was sporadic at best, finishing the season 127/227, 1422 passing yards, 9 TD’s 10 INT’s and a QB rating of 69.7, definitely not starting QB numbers.
The two QB’s that look to have the most potential to become the Bills starting QB are Edwards and Brohm. But, the problem in Buffalo is that the Bills have not successfully developed a QB since Jim Kelly. The Bills quickly gave up on Todd Collins. In 1997, the Bills kept going back and forth with Collins and Alex Van Pelt as their starting QB, so after one abrupt year of being the Bills starting QB, Collins was sent packing in 1998. In 2004, the Bills drafted J.P. Losman. Losman was named the starter in 2006, but was taken in and out of the lineup by Tom Donahoe and Mike Mularkey. Almost every year, Losman had a new coordinator and a new offense to learn. After the 2008 season, Losman was shown the door. Now that brings us to Edwards, who like Losman, has gone through numerous offensive coordinators during his time here in Buffalo. This is where Chan Gailey can make the difference. Here’s a look at what Gailey did with previous offensives:
Pittsburgh’s offense ranked 7th overall and 11th in points, with Mike Tomczak and Kordell Stewart at QB. The season after Gailey left the Steelers, they ranked 28th.
In Dallas, the offense ranked 9th overall and 11th in points. The season before Gailey took over, the offense ranked 22nd overall, and 23rd overall the season after Gailey was fired.
In Miami the offense ranked 16th overall and 11th in points with Jay Fiedler at QB and Oronde Gadsden as their #1 WR.
Gailey prides himself on being a teacher and his track record has shown that he can turn average/sub-par quarterbacks into good, serviceable QB’s. It is possible that Edwards and/or Brohm could be late bloomers like superbowl winning QB Drew Brees was. In Brees’ first three seasons as starting QB with the Chargers, Brees had 31 games where he threw for under 200 yards, including six games where he threw for 100 yards; those are not numbers you would expect from a starting QB. Once San Diego drafted Phillip Rivers in 2004, Brees stepped up his game and went from 205/356, 2,108 passing yards, 11 TD’s and 15 INT’s in 2003 to 262/400, 3,159 passing yards, 27 TD’s and 7 INT’s in 2004. Nix and Gailey are hoping that competition at the QB position will motivate one of the 3 Bills QB’s, and that QB will have a breakout year, just like Brees did back in 2004. If none of them have a breakout year in 2010, expect the Bills to draft a QB in the early rounds of the 2011 draft.