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Losman is Backup Plan A for Buffalo

Losman likely to leave after 2008 season (Photo Source)

I don't like opening up the volatile can of worms that is (and has been for quite some time) the quarterback situation in Buffalo very often. For some reason, even when we're certain who the team's starting quarterback is, there's still controversy. But today, I have to bring it up. Why? Well, Jerry Sullivan started it.

This past January, Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman made it known that he'd like to be traded at the team's earliest convenience. Approximately four months later, that still has not happened. When Losman made his trade "demand" (can a player really "demand" to be traded if they have no say in the decision?), his agent also made it clear that Losman would honor the final year of his contract - the 2008-09 season - if the Bills were unable or unwilling to deal their 2004 first-round pick.

So as it stands right now (and things could definitely change before training camp and the end of the pre-season), Losman will be a Bill in 2008, likely serving as the backup to second-year starter Trent Edwards. That thought seems to be rather perturbing to Mr. Sullivan. I can't figure out why, even after his latest quarterback rant.

Before I get into my issues with Sullivan's remarks, here's one good point that he makes about the situation:

It’s unfair to Edwards, who doesn’t need Losman hanging over his shoulder for a second year.

That's true - but it's not true in Buffalo's locker room. It is plainly obvious that Trent Edwards is the starting quarterback. Any Bills fan that pays attention is aware of that, and the Bills themselves are aware of it. If there is any whiff of quarterback controversy next year, two things have happened - Edwards has gotten hurt and the media is firing up their favorite paper-selling tool: quarterback controversy. If Edwards is healthy for 16 games, then he will start 16 games. Why? Because that's exactly what Losman himself did in 2006, and it's exactly what he would have done last season had he not gotten hurt.

Edwards will be fine. Losman will clearly want to be on the field, but he won't get there unless #5 is injured. Jauron has proven he can stick behind a healthy young signal-caller once in his tenure here; why on earth wouldn't it happen again? Losman likely won't be a problem, either; Sullivan himself admits that Losman was a "good soldier" after his demotion last year. That's about where Sullivan's good ideas end.

The big myth is that Losman could save the Bills’ playoff hopes if Edwards falters or gets hurt. But again, if Losman is such a prized asset, how come he’s still here? How come almost every other NFL team has filled its need at both starting quarterback and backup?

Sullivan explores literally every other possible explanation to Losman's still being on the roster other than it being the Bills' preference. No one wants him. No one would offer anything substantial in return. Nobody has enough faith in him to warrant trading for him, even as a backup. He even makes the claim that the Bills might not be totally set on Edwards as their starter, which is why they're keeping Losman around.

No one is insinuating that Losman can be the savior of this team should Edwards go down. Not one single person. But he has a better chance of doing it than any other backup quarterback currently available. But Sullivan disagrees with that assessment, too:

For the overall good, they should get him out of here, one way or another. I don’t care who’s the backup: Daunte Culpepper, Byron Leftwich, a free-agent rookie. Anything is better than another year of Losman.

Pardon me for saying so, but that's just ridiculously biased. We're talking about a guy (Culpepper) who has had serious knee injuries and couldn't hold onto a starting job in Oakland last year... with Josh McCown as his main challenger. And I hardly need to remind Falcons fans of Leftwich's inability to hold off Chris Redman in Atlanta last year. But yeah, let's sign them right up if it means Sullivan's wishes come true. These are terrible quarterbacks, folks. Losman isn't a gem himself, but he knows this team, he knows the system, and he's ready for one more year in Buffalo.

The fact of the matter is that no matter what Lee Evans believes, Losman is a backup. That's not going to change. If Edwards gets hurt (deities forbid) and Losman performs even adequately, that's a good thing for the Bills - whether or not Evans starts campaigning for a Losman promotion again or not. Ultimately, this argument rests squarely on the shoulders of one Dick Jauron. Stick by your starter, coach, and media attempts to create controversy like Mr. Sullivan did today will be for naught.

There. I'm done talking quarterbacks for a while. Local media should try the same tactic.