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Breaking Down Losman vs Cincinnati

JP vs CIN: 24/34, 295 yds, 1 TD/INT (

This week, things will be different. I'm going to try my best to avoid using the words "Quarterback", "Controversy", "Issue" or "Dilemma" in the same sentence this week. So, instead of my usual rant about the QB position, today will simply be an analytical approach to this weekend's performance against the Bengals.

J.P. Losman, in his first start since Week 3, led by far Buffalo's most impressive offensive charge Sunday, throwing for 295 yards and orchestrating an attack that ultimately turned in 33 points and a Bills victory. Just how effective was Losman? There's only one source that can give us the truth: the tape. So I fervently watched the re-air of the Bills/Bengals game on NFL Network last night, paying a ton of attention to Losman. Following are the impressions I came away with.

Boy, Did JP Have Time
Quick disclaimer: I saw the game live at The Ralph, so some of these impressions are drawing on that experience. Also, the re-air on NFL Network didn't show every throw Losman made - it was close - so take this with a bit of a grain of salt.

I haven't seen pass protection like Losman was afforded on Sunday in quite some time. Of the throws I caught on NFL Network, Losman was hit as he threw (never sacked) just three times. This was a huge factor in Losman's above-average performance accuracy-wise; Losman's 71% completion percentage was a giant leap from his usual, steady 60-63% clip. I counted four bad throws on the re-air, and added in a fifth that was omitted: the lollipop he threw that landed harmlessly at midfield in the first quarter. So the numbers: 34 pass attempts, 5 poor throws. I can't recall the last time I saw J.P. throw the ball so well - even if it was just the Bengals, this was a very impressive performance.

One other impressive feature to Losman's performance Sunday was his pocket presence. Sure, the O-Line helped, but when J.P. did have a defender staring him in the face quickly, he not only got rid of the football, but he took of running as well. J.P. ended up with 21 rushing yards on 4 carries, including a 13-yard scat that picked up a first down. He looked mature, poised, and calm. He "got greedy" (his words) on a couple of throws, but most of the time he looked cool out there.

Who Says J.P. Doesn't Sustain Drives?
Many Trent Edwards backers (correctly) point out that the rookie has a great knack at moving the chains and sustaining drives. Somehow, this skill immediately turned into "J.P. can't sustain drives". Take a look at the numbers from Sunday - of Buffalo's 11 possessions, just two were three-and-outs - and those were Brian Moorman's only two punts of the game. Six of those possessions were 7 plays or longer, six were for 40 yards are longer, and 7 of them ended in scores. Sounds pretty productive to me.

To boot, perhaps Losman's most impressive drive came at the end of the first half. Cincinnati had just returned a kickoff for a touchdown and taken a 14-10 lead. Losman got the ball back, quickly rattled off a 9-play, 63-yard drive in a minute and 41 seconds, and Rian Lindell was then able to cut that lead to 1 at halftime. That was a huge drive, preventing Cincinnati from having the lead and all the momentum at the break.

Overall Impressions
You can't help but be impressed by Losman's performance on Sunday. In fact, you can't help but be impressed by Losman as a whole - the fact that he's kept his head in this thing, worked hard for the organization despite losing his job to a rookie, speaks volumes about his character. He makes big plays - just take a look at Lee Evans' stats over the last two weeks to gather that.

If you're into the whole message board culture, be prepared to hear "Oh, it was just the Bengals" very, very often. In fact, Jerry Sullivan is already on that bandwagon:

We still have a raging quarterback controversy on our hands. You don't prove you're a franchise quarterback, worthy of a big contract extension, by beating one of the league's worst defenses at home. You do that against the better defenses, on the road and in games with greater playoff significance.

(For the record, Sullivan said "quarterback" and "controversy" in the same sentence, not I.) While this argument is valid, it doesn't really mean anything. Losman still had to make the throws. He made them. As a result, the Bills had their most productive day offensively in a very long time. That should be the only thing that matters at this point.

Time will reveal what will happen at the position. Just know this: we've got two good ones, and the veteran of that pair played one heck of a game on Sunday. This performance wasn't an aberration - if he gets the opportunity, expect more games like this from Losman.