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Measuring Trent Edwards' growth and maturation

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Edwards ahead in areas, behind in others (buffalobills.com)

Back in July, I wrote a piece examining the statistical trends of some of the NFL's best current quarterbacks.  This was done in an effort to statistically measure Buffalo Bills QB Trent Edwards' growth in his first full season on the job; the exercise provided a solid metric for measuring said growth statistically.  Two groups of quarterbacks were chosen - "elite" and "comparison" - and with some not-so-tricky math, it was determined that we would see Edwards' numbers grow in certain areas.  This was done in an attempt to gauge whether Edwards would become an "elite" quarterback or merely a good one.

Alas, such projections go beyond stats.  But we'll talk about the stats first.

Edwards Elite vs Edwards Good
When the numbers were finalized back in July, statistical trends of several current quarterbacks dictated that, in order to properly define Edwards as potentially elite or potentially OK after his second year in the league, we'd have to differentiate between the following two projected stat lines...

Edwards "Elite": 57% completion percentage, 3310 yards, 18 TD, 13 INT
Edwards "Good": 57% completion percentage, 3,010 yards, 14 TD, 13 INT

There isn't much differentiation between the two stat lines, obviously, so there's clearly more going into the formula than we accounted for back in July.  That was by design.  Currently, Edwards is on pace to finish the 2008 season with the following numbers:

Edwards Projected: 67% completion percentage, 3,280 yards, 12 TD, 12 INT

Unless Edwards gets hot, he's looking like he's pretty on target for the "good" comparison, though he's much higher than anticipated in the completion percentage area.  Take from it what you will.  Considering the defenses the Bills face over the final seven games, I wouldn't be shocked to see Edwards fall somewhere between "good" and "elite" - if Turk Schonert recovers some of his early-season play-calling magic.

The "Intangibles"
Clearly, numbers aren't everything.  If they were, Drew Bledsoe would be considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time.  But "great" quarterbacks have great intangibles - that lovely word that's thrown around so loosely these days.  Edwards isn't lacking in this department, either.

Set aside the stats.  Set aside Edwards' poor play in recent weeks, in which he's been sacked, thrown interceptions or fumbles more times than most of us have the stomach to recall.  Quarterbacks go through rough patches, especially when they're so young; even if you inexplicably hate Edwards, you can't deny that one fact.  Edwards has the make-up to work through it.

By "make-up", of course, I refer to his work ethic.  I refer to the fact that despite the team's recent struggles, he remains, unequivocally, the leader of this team.  Nobody's turned on him, as we've seen in years past.  He may bore some of you with his Dick Jauron-esque responses at the podium, but I like that in a quarterback.  Mike Vanderjagt comments aside, when has Peyton Manning ever given anything but a snoozer interview?  Edwards hits the film room hard, the practice field harder, and he's tougher than we gave him credit for prior to this season.  He's taken a pounding, but it was only a concussion that caused him to miss time.

Sound Off
Clearly, the kid's got to play more before we can make any claims about his status level as an NFL quarterback.  You just can't do it after 18 starts, with a 10-8 record.  But that's why we're here - to guess.  Opinions are sure to differ - I still find it hard to believe there's an anti-Edwards establishment in this fan base, after all this franchise has been through - but that's why this place exists.

As for me, I'm choosing to believe that Edwards is on his way to a good career.  I sincerely doubt he'll ever hit "elite" status, but his numbers aren't terrible for such a young player - particularly in the completion percentage department - and he's a leader.  He leads by example.  He's positive.  He's tough.  He rarely gets rattled (it's happened more frequently of late).  I still steadfastly remain on the Trent Edwards bandwagon.  There's still a lot to like.

If you're there with me, or if you're hopping off of that train, now's the time to make your declarations.  Go.