So that's what an NFL offense is supposed to look like. Making his first professional start, Bills rookie quarterback Trent Edwards played like a season veteran, marching the Bills down the field routinely in a 17-14 win over the New York Jets. While it isn't likely that Edwards' performance will create a QB controversy in Buffalo, his steadying hand appears to have the Bills' offense back on track.
Going Blow-for-Blow with Penny
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Edwards' debut performance was the fact that he out-dueled Chad Pennington, the heady veteran QB of the Jets who plays the perfect style to defeat the Bills' defense. The stat lines:
Edwards: 22/28, 234 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 98.5 rating
Pennington: 32/39, 290 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 84.8 rating
Pennington was efficient, but two interceptions hurt his team. Edwards, on the other hand, didn't hurt the Bills a bit - his one interception came toward the end of the first half, and while it certainly wasn't a bright spot, the fact that the Jets couldn't capitalize on the play saved face on Edwards' lone mistake of the day. The best part: the Bills didn't beat the Jets in spite of Edwards; Edwards beat the New York Jets.
Third Down the Key
We harped on it all week - in fact, we've been harping on it all season - the Bills would not be successful offensively until they became efficient on third down. Edwards was able to deliver in this situation as well; Buffalo converted 5 of 10 third downs and scored a touchdown on a fourth down; compare this to the Jets' 54% (6/11) rate and you see how important this stat was. Pennington and the Jets are masters at sustaining drives, but Edwards showed equal proficiency in this department. We were certainly helped out by the Jets in this department, however - curiously, the Jets insisted on playing man coverage on most third downs, making the job a bit easier for Trent and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.
While it was certainly refreshing to see the Bills' offense succeed - especially behind a rookie quarterback - there are still improvements to be made, especially on Edwards' part. He still has a few problems reading defenses - an early sack on a delayed blitz and the interception were the two main blemishes in this department. He also has some accuracy issues on screen passes - twice, Bills running backs barely had time to get their hands up because the ball was thrown too hard, resulting in tipped passes that could have easily been intercepted by the Jets had they been in position. Also, take Edwards' early success with a grain of salt - by no means is this Jets defense good; in fact, they've got one of the lowest ranked statistical defenses in the league.
But yes - you're allowed to be excited. At this point, there is not a quarterback controversy in Buffalo. This is still J.P. Losman's team. But boy, do we have a heck of a backup with a bright future. Hats off to you, Trent Edwards - you're officially undefeated as an NFL starting quarterback.