Welcome to the off-season, Bills fans. The NFL playoffs continue this afternoon (and you're more than welcome to continue discussing those games in the thread below); for Bills purposes, however, we're moving on to the first step of the process leading up to free agency, which starts March 3: roster breakdowns.
So this, folks, is the first posting of what will likely be at least 13 such posts in a series we'll call "State of the Bills Roster". We'll start the discussions off with - what else - the quarterback position. Keep in mind the following: this exercise isn't entirely about talents and strengths/weaknesses as much as it is about status, usage and growth potential. This is a tool to help us predict/determine what the best plan of attack is for the Bills this off-season as they attempt to build a playoff roster for 2008.
Here's a breakdown of Buffalo's three quarterbacks:
Bills head coach Dick Jauron is very high on Edwards. As a rookie, Trent displayed the game management skills - along with an ability to avoid a lot of negative plays, especially in the sack department - that Jauron values above most everything else. Clearly, Edwards has the inside track at being the starter next season - no matter who the new offensive coordinator is. If he stays healthy as an NFL sophomore, he's likely to start all 16 games next season, especially if the Bills move their other disgruntled quarterback and can't find a suitable veteran replacement.
Edwards was used in the shotgun quite often in 2007. He had a tendency to check down most of the time as he attempted to avoid the big mistake. He was used on the roll-out often as well - more so, even, than their more mobile quarterback. Edwards, whose skills would fit well in a West Coast offense, is the prototypical game manager - he's methodical, intelligent and calculating, and that's exactly how Buffalo (tried) to game-plan around him.
Will Improve in '08 if - the Bills learn how to run an effective screen pass :: a possession receiver is added for the move-the-chains QB :: he becomes better at disguising his intentions and reading defenses
Losman is included here because despite his trade demands, he's still a member of this roster until notified otherwise. Losman - the starter for the entirety of the 2006 season - lost his job to Edwards after a knee injury and ineffective play wore thin the patience of the Bills' brass. Dick Jauron has praised Losman for the truly professional manner in which he handled his demotion, and Jauron seems to still believe that J.P. has what it takes to succeed at this level.
When Losman did play, the Bills used him a bit differently than they did Edwards - namely, Losman was still in the shotgun often, but he rolled out less and sat in the pocket more. He has more mobility and escapability than does Edwards, but his pocket presence and pocket mobility leave something to be desired. Ultimately, Losman's skills and tendencies don't mesh with what Jauron wants from the position - namely, everything Edwards provides.
Will Improve in '08 if - he sees the field :: the new offensive scheme is a bit less conservative by nature and utilizes his mobility :: he's playing for a different team
The coaching staff is surprisingly high on Hamdan - as proof of that, the team cut Craig Nall (whom they signed to a nice contract before '06 to compete for the starting position) to make room on the roster for Hamdan. Gibran has nice size, a strong arm and is said to possess much of the same game management tendencies that Edwards does; Hamdan just doesn't have any experience. The coaching staff may be comfortable enough to have Hamdan serve as the primary backup next season; that doesn't mean the fan base will be comfortable, however.
Will Improve in '08 if - he can pick up the new system quickly :: he sees significant chunks of time in the pre-season
Clearly, the Bills are unusually youthful at this position - that's not to say there's a lack of talent here (that's certainly not true), but a little more experience would be nice. The team has the opportunity to accomplish just that after Losman's demands to be traded to a new team. Don't expect a QB-for-QB swap, and don't expect the Bills to draft another quarterback either. If the team can move Losman, they'll do it - and they'll likely search for a cheap, experienced quarterback to back him up (we'll explore name possibilities at a later date). If they can't move Losman, he'll stay on - disgruntled - as the backup next season.
Possible additions: cheap, veteran backup
Possible subtractions: Losman