Another week and a second win are in the books for the Buffalo Bills after the team defeated the Ravens 19-14 at Ralph Wilson Stadium yesterday. There is a growing sense of confidence amongst the young team after three consecutive strong performances - even if all of those performances were played out in front of a home crowd. Yet despite the improved play we've witnessed in the last month, a storm cloud hovers over the Bills: who will play quarterback this week?
This is a question that many Bills fans don't wish to answer on a week-to-week basis. With QB J.P. Losman fully healthy (and presumably rust-free), the question has resurfaced again - will the young leader and team captain be given the chance to re-claim his starting role, or will the coaching staff stick with rookie Trent Edwards, the starter in both victories? Each week the debate rages on, the Bills fan base continues to become more divided on the issue. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has the Bills' best interests in mind.
No matter which QB you're behind (or if you're neutral - bless you), what's getting lost in the shuffle is that there very likely isn't much debate going on in the mind of the one person whose opinion really matters here: Bills head coach Dick Jauron. If you're a betting man (or woman), pony up the bucks on Edwards - he's likely to start next week against the Jets, at the very least.
Jauron's Style = Edwards' Style
If there is one deciding factor in predicting the winner of this controversy, it's taking into consideration the coaching style of Dick Jauron. The coach is often described as conservative, calculating in looking for big plays, a great teacher and, from the negative perspective, a coach that "plays not to lose". With that in mind, take a look at the description of Edwards' performance yesterday by the Ravens blogger Rexx at Baltimore Beat Down:
Uncanny, right? Those words are literally a microcosm of the exact style of play Jauron has become known for. You may not like it, but the writing is on the wall: Losman has often been described as a "gunslinger" and is at his best when using his athleticism and strong arm to make plays down the field. There is a contingent of people, myself among them, who feel Losman would excel in a scheme that played to his strengths and allowed him to be a playmaker. A conservative, methodical approach is not, and never will be, Losman's style - and that's to his credit. You have to love a fearless QB like that. But, unfortunately, it probably places him a notch below the conservative, methodical Edwards in Jauron's mind.
It is certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in my mind that J.P. Losman can be a successful quarterback for this Bills team. I'm also certain that the events of the past month (i.e. losing his job to injury) have been incredibly unfair to the young signal-caller, and I've long felt that he's the better quarterback right now between he and Edwards. But again, that's just my opinion - what really matters is Jauron's. Edwards and Jauron just seem too perfect a style marriage at this point to believe that the coach will insert Losman back into the lineup at any point in the near future.
Whether you agree or disagree with naming a starter - at any position - based on your style of coaching, think about this: Jauron, for better or worse, has his beliefs, and they're instilled in the schemes this team runs. He's taken a lot of criticism for playing conservatively; what if the pile of losses he's endured have been because he hasn't had time to find the right players? There's a chance that Edwards is the QB that Jauron always envisioned building a team around; doesn't the coach deserve the chance to prove that he can (finally) win with his schemes, his conservatism and his quarterback?
Again, a Plea
Let's avoid naivety, folks - based on his status with the current regime, his style of play and his potential, it's a near certainty that Edwards will get the call from Jauron when he makes yet another QB announcement on Wednesday. My plea, once again, to Dick Jauron is this: make the decision permanent.
Seriously: there is no longer a point to further playing out the "one week at a time" bit. The coaches have seen over a year of Losman, and have seen enough of Edwards over the past four games to know what to expect out of him as well. Both players are healthy, talented and players that the Bills can win football games with. This time, the decision has to be final. There's nothing more to wait for. The time is now to end this debate (at least internally) and move forward with the remaining 10 games on the schedule.
So please, Coach Jauron. Name your starter, and name him permanently. End the charade - your job is difficult enough as it is. Please, for the sanity of Bills fans everywhere, make these next two days the last two days we'll have to talk about this.