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Bills QB Edwards thriving under pressure

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"And now for something completely different!"  Yes, I'm a Monty Python fan but the reference is more to the nature of this posting. I generally prattle on endlessly about what this lineman did or didn't do on that play. I've had something of a busy week so I'm more than a little pressed for time - hence a completely different sort of posting for me.

I've been one of those guys sitting on the fence regarding Buffalo's QB situation. Basically, I root for whomever is playing at the moment whether it be Trent Edwards or J.P. Losman. They each have their positives (cannon arm vs unperturbed nature) and negatives (highly excitable in a bad way vs something less than a cannon arm). Well, I'm a fence sitter no more.

I didn't expect to see a lot of positives come out of the Miami game but I did. As I was watching the game and breaking down how each lineman did on every play (yes, I still did it. I just don't have time to write about it), I began to notice something about Edwards when it came to how he dealt with blitzes. The Dolphins blitzed on 13 of 42 pass attempts (31%). Edwards responded with 1 incompletion (pass 6 to Josh Reed which was almost intercepted), 1 scramble for 9 yards and 11 completions. The grand total - including the scramble and pass 42 which Royal caught and promptly fumbled - was 150 yards (11.5 yards per play) and 7 first downs. Now that is production. And it was consistent production in the face of pressure.

That made me curious so I went back and looked over my notes of the San Diego game. Only 10 pass plays were broadcast and the Chargers blitzed on 7 of them. Edwards had 1 incompletion, 1 scramble for 12 yards, and 5 completions. The total haul for that game under pressure was 77 yards (11.0 yards per play), 5 first downs and 1 TD. Edwards was only in for one blitz of the Cardinals game but that went for a first down and 13 yards.

The past couple of games represent real progress for Edwards when it comes to dealing with the blitz. In the Rams game Edwards had 3 sacks, 4 incompletions (1 drop), 1 scramble, 4 completions, 3 first downs and 1 TD. That was 70 net yards (5.4 per play). In the Raiders game Edwards had 1 sack, 4 incompletions (2 drops), 1 INT, 4 completions, and 1 scramble. That netted 48 yards (4.4 yards per play), 2 first downs and 1 TD. The Jags blitzed only 4 times and Edwards had 3 completions, 3 first downs and 1 sack. That netted 50 yards (12.5 yards per play), thanks largely to Barnes' improbable 33 yard gallop. Against Seattle's 4 blitzes Edwards had 3 completions, 2 first downs, and 1 defensive holding penalty that resulted in another first down. Blitzes in that game netted 22 yards, or 5.5 yards per play.

Overall, Edwards has been blitzed on 53 of 214 (24.8%) pass plays. He has thrown for first downs on 24 of those 53 (45.3%) blitzes. Setting aside the 5 sacks and 4 scrambles brings his actual passing stat line against the blitz to 32 of 44 (72.7%) for 421 yards (13.2 yards per completion, 9.6 yards per attempt), 3 TDs and 1 INT. Think about that for a second.  He's getting a first down almost half the time against blitzes and 75% of the time when he completes the pass. The bottom line is that Edwards is very good against the blitz. Teams have to pick their poison: go after him and get burned or sit back and let him dink and dunk his way down the field. Oh, and 3 of Edwards' 12 (25%) incompletions against the blitz were dropped so his numbers would be even better if the receivers had done their part.

Look for the Jets to respect his ability to function in the face of pressure and blitz something less than 35% of the time. They like to dink and dunk anyway.


I thought I'd read somewhere on Rumblings that some people were thinking that Duke Preston should start instead of Melvin Fowler. Silly people. Preston had a total of 7 bad run plays (all but 1 at center) and killed 4. He added 2 bad pass plays and 1 killed pass play for good measure. He personally killed 3 of the 11 (27.3%) of the Bills' drives in Miami. He's so bad that I'm placed in the awkward position of defending Fowler's hold on the starting gig - and most of you know how much I loathe Fowler. Of course, I should note that Fowler's lone run play of the game was bad and he had a bad pass play as well. He can trot out the gimpiness excuse but, frankly, he's not any good when he's healthy.

Whittle was just kind of there, which is pretty much what we expect from him. He did have one really notable play; Edwards' lame duck INT was due to Whittle being beaten by a swim move. His guy crashed into Edwards as he released the ball sending it fluttering lazily towards a waiting DB.