With Day Three of the rookie mini-camp set for today, you would think that our two most popular draft picks - RB Marshawn Lynch and LB Paul Posluszny - would be the point of emphasis of local media. Lynch and Poz certainly were watched closely through the first two practices; perhaps no player is receiving more attention this weekend, however, than third-round quarterback Trent Edwards. The Stanford alum is receiving all of the "first-team" reps in this veteran-less camp, and thus far he has looked very good. He is a big, mobile, strong-armed kid with good accuracy and loads of potential. This has members of the Buffalo media intrigued about his potential with this team.
Let me first point out that there is a pattern as to how quarterback controversies gain steam. There is a quarterback on a team whom not everybody is comfortable with; a team brings in another guy with a little talent; the media catches wind of the new guy; then, voila, two guys are vying for one job. We've seen QB controversies here in the past, and they were all ugly - Flutie/Johnson; Bledsoe/Losman; even Losman/Holcomb last pre-season. What I am still trying to understand is why Edwards is suddenly a threat to J.P. Losman. The following article provides the answer - it's the local media. Media hype is the reason that Edwards is a threat to Losman.
Jerry Sullivan is the latest to fuel this fire; his latest piece on Edwards appeared in this morning's edition of the Buffalo News and further emphasizes why I usually can't stand local media. Sullivan is just the latest writer to hype Edwards as a potential replacement to J.P. Losman. Directly from the article:
"Edwards knows J.P. Losman is set as the Bills' starter, and there will be no open competition for the No. 1 job in training camp. He understands he has much to learn about playing quarterback in the NFL. He'll compete with Craig Nall for the No. 2 job and take it from there.
Still, the Bills wouldn't have taken Edwards in the third round if they didn't believe he could be a star. They can deny it all they like, but it's a sign that they're not 100 percent confident Losman will improve enough to justify a massive contract extension when the time arrives."
Everything Sullivan says in the above quote is fine until the bolded part. Absolutely nothing about the pick of Edwards signifies any level of discomfort with Losman. Not a thing. The club made it very clear: they were going to draft a quarterback for depth at some point; Edwards was a highly-graded player who fell drastically on their board; the grade Edwards carried far outweighed any player that was available at pick 92 on the Bills' board; these events were compelling enough for the team to draft Edwards. Why is this turning into more than what it really is - a smart pick of a really talented football player?
The answer is simple: local media want to be the first to point something out, and while the chances are remote at this point, Edwards could supplant Losman as the starter at some point down the line. Instead of pointing out the possibility, however, Sullivan instead sees conspiracy. He sees mystery and intrigue where in reality there is a much-improved starter and a rookie third-stringer. This Edwards craze is ridiculous.
On a fundamental level, I agree with Sullivan - I, too, see the Bills hedging their bets with Losman. Why wouldn't they? We're trying to build for the long haul here, and simply put we're not sure yet if Losman can do that for us. But that does not mean we don't believe in him; the truth is very much the contrary. He is on the verge of proving himself to be an NFL-caliber starting quarterback, and the coaching staff absolutely raves about his potential in this offense. In fact, a recent ESPN the Magazine article featured a very telling quote from offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, who said the following:
Notice that Fairchild's statement directly contradicts Sullivan's conspiracy theory. It's obvious, then, that confidence is high in Losman. He has not, however, proven that he can compete at this level consistently; he also has the end of his rookie contract coming up. The pressure is on Losman to prove that he truly is the franchise signal-caller, and he also has the burden of earning a contract extension. Adding Edwards as a third pressure will only decrease Losman's chances of success. The front office knows this - hence the backing of Losman as the sure-fire starter.
In amongst all that rambling, hopefully, were two key points: one - J.P. Losman is the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills; two - the local media is too focused on Edwards' starting potential to let Losman prove his worth. Instead of waiting for JP to continue his growth this season, the media will be waiting for him to slip up. They'll be waiting for another opportunity to talk about Edwards. If this continues much longer, and Losman struggles out of the gate, all hell will break loose. So realize what this is, Bills fans - there is no quarterback controversy. There is J.P. Losman, a potential star who is striving to prove that this season. There is Trent Edwards, a rookie who will very likely start the year as our third stringer. That's it. End of story.
Let's keep talking about Lynch and Poz.