The Buffalo Bills report to St. John Fisher College for 2010 training camp exactly one week from today. Upon that glorious point in time, another lengthy NFL off-season will officially reach its conclusion, and one question will once again control the minds of Bills fans everywhere. (I used the verb "enthrall" before "control," but made the switch for a higher degree of accuracy.)
That question: who will emerge as the Bills' starting quarterback this season?
We know the contenders: incumbents Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick are joined by 2009 also-ran Brian Brohm and 2010 seventh-round pick Levi Brown to form a quarterback quartet envied by pretty much no one. Bills head coach Chan Gailey has already informed the public that he'll enter training camp with a "pecking order" at the position, meaning he'll choose one contender to take all first-team reps on the practice field. Edwards is expected to get that vote of confidence, and be followed through the rotation by Brohm, Fitzpatrick and Brown.
But Gailey has also been very adamant that this will be an open competition. As far as we can speculate at the moment, that means that how the quarterbacks perform on the practice field, and particularly during pre-season games, will determine who ultimately starts. As Edwards and Brohm are widely considered the two front-runners for the job, we'll examine how each of those players has historically performed in the pre-season after the jump.
Here's what Edwards has accomplished through three separate pre-seasons to date:
Edwards was obviously terrible in 2009 - as I'm sure most of you recall, perhaps with a churning stomach - as he and the first-unit offense struggled to adjust to a no-huddle look. He was, however, very solid as a second-teamer in his rookie season of 2007, and though he missed a lot of the '08 pre-season due to injury (he missed the final two starts of the pre-season), he was very good in a win over Pittsburgh.
As bad as Edwards was in 2009, Brohm has been just as bad in each of his two pre-seasons - which, of course, helps explain why he's a member of this team in the first place. Here's how Brohm has fared through two pre-seasons:
Brohm has never thrown an NFL touchdown pass, pre-season or regular season. His struggles as Green Bay's second- or third-team quarterback in his first two seasons are well-documented, and don't need to be re-hashed here. Chan Gailey may have said that Brohm "made a leap" during spring practices, but from what we've seen of these two quarterbacks in recent years, there's absolutely nothing to suggest that Brohm will continue to close the gap once pre-season games begin.
I've been asked several times since April why I don't believe that Brohm has a chance to open the season as the starter. I've never once said that Brohm has no chance, but the above numbers, plus the fact that Edwards has much more game experience than Brohm, is precisely why I think Edwards is much more likely to win this job. If Gailey's open competition is based on pre-season performance, I see zero reasons to believe that Brohm will outplay Edwards this August against other NFL opponents.