"If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none." What does it mean if you have three quarterbacks?
Last season, Trent Edwards started the first six games of the season for the Buffalo Bills before sustaining a concussion against the . Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in, starting two games before the bye week while Edwards healed. After the bye, Edwards returned to the starting lineup against the , but was benched late in the game for throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Dick Jauron was fired following that game, and Fitzpatrick was inserted as starter until both he and Edwards were injured in a loss to the . Brian Brohm started a game against the , while they were recovering, but Fitzpatrick was well enough in Week 17 to start against the .
That is not a pattern the Bills can afford to repeat in 2010. Shuttling quarterbacks in and out of the roster is not the way to win in the NFL.
The Bills also had three quarterbacks start games in 1969, with Jack Kemp in and out of the lineup due to injury. That team went 4-10. There were four starting quarterbacks in 1968; those Bills finished 1-12-1. In 1960 and 1961, the records were 5-8-1 and 6-8 starting a total of six quarterbacks. Only once in team history have three quarterbacks started a game and the team ended with a winning record. In 1962, Warren Rabb went 5-1-1 and Kemp 2-1, which balanced out Al Dorow's 0-4 record. I don't think most people would be happy going 7-6-1, so it's apparent that the Bills need a single starting quarterback going forward.
During the off-season the Bills were rumored to be pursuing hard. This should show fans that Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix were underwhelmed by the quarterbacks on the roster. Many thought that the Bills would address the position in the 2010 NFL Draft, but apparently underwhelmed with the possibilities, Gailey and Nix passed on a highly touted quarterback in the draft, choosing to wait until the seventh round to grab Levi Brown. This did nothing to clarify the Bills' QB situation.
Without significantly upgrading the position, the team is holding an open competition between Edwards, Fitzpatrick, and Brohm during training camp. Each signal caller (sorry, Mr. Brown) got equal snaps in OTAs and minicamp according to the coaching staff. But Gailey made it known earlier this month that a quarterback pecking order would be in place for training camp.
That should be good news for Bills fans. Here's another cliche courtesy of Fredrick II: "He who defends everything, defends nothing." In this case, he who prepares three quarterbacks prepares none.
Gailey will establish a system where one guy from this point forward will be working with the first team. The wide receivers will develop timing with the top quarterback. The offensive line will learn the cadence and snap count tendencies. There will be a true leader in the huddle in the sense that it will be his job to lose through bad play or injury.
Speaking of injuries, both of the top quarterbacks from last year missed starts due to injuries. Let's hope the offensive line improves in pass protection, too.
If the Buffalo Bills are going to be any better in 2010, they need to avoid starting three quarterbacks like they did in 2009.