Somebody help me here. It's September 28, 2010, right? Week 3 of the NFL regular season just ended? Our favorite football team has spent an entire off-season preaching patience and prudent personnel decisions, only to see the league's third-worst point differential manifest itself on the field through three games? I haven't fallen into some freak coma and emerged months later, correct?
No? Then answer this one for me: why are the Buffalo Bills making decisions like it's March?
On Monday, the Bills released former starting quarterback Trent Edwards, bringing an absurdly abrupt end to a four-year span of time in which he moonlighted as this team's starting quarterback. Barely a month ago, General Manager Buddy Nix was calling Edwards the most talented quarterback on the roster, saying he had the best training camp, and watching his hand-picked head coach, Chan Gailey, essentially hand Edwards the starting job on a silver platter. Today, his most talented quarterback is seeking new employment.
Sadly, Edwards' benching and subsequent release appear to be just the tip of a supremely confusing iceberg.
This move was going to come at some point. Back in July, just before training camp started, the most logical conclusion we could reach was that Edwards would be released if he couldn't win the starting job. What would be the point of keeping him around in a backup capacity? That's a question we correctly asked, and despite the fact that Edwards did win the starting job, the speed with which he lost it again merely extended what was an inevitable conclusion this summer. When he was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick just a week ago, his Bills career was over. He'd reached lame duck status. It's hard to blame the team for not wanting to dip a toe into that well in an emergency after making the type of statement they made.
Logically, and looking at the decision in a vacuum, it's hard to fault the Bills for making the decision they did on Monday. This is despite respectable people like Gregg Rosenthal blasting the move for the lack of an overall plan, or Tim Graham for (correctly) noting that the move is viewed negatively by the rest of the league. Mr. Rosenthal - show me a plan before Edwards was released, and I'll understand where you're coming from. But he's right. Mr. Graham - pretty much everything the team does is viewed as amateur. But he's right. This move had a degree of logic behind it, yet Rosenthal and Graham are still correct - the move is also ridiculous in a vacuum.
Even when they're logical, they're illogical. Ladies and gentlemen: the Buffalo Bills.
That is a terrifying truth. As much sense as it makes for the organization to part ways with Edwards, the timing of the decision makes the move completely nonsensical. What took so long to figure out that Edwards wasn't the answer in the first place? Jerry Sullivan had a nice take on that this morning. When do ramifications outside the world of the 53 men on the roster factor into a decision like this? Do the people that matter at One Bills Drive understand that these types of decisions affect the team's business, now and in the future? Why is it not surprising that reports that teams inquired about Edwards' trade availability end with "Buffalo wasn't interested"? This isn't the first time we've heard reports like that, and the fact that the end result was the same is alarming. These are all questions that don't have immediate answers.
Here's the kicker: any logic behind Edwards' release is completely nullified by the logic behind (reportedly) giving outside linebacker Chris Kelsay a $24 million contract extension. Kelsay is Edwards, minus the positional glare, the hairstyle, and the training camp heckling. By most accounts, he has been highly suspect in switching to his new position, despite his being assignment-sound. He defines the word "average" in virtually every way, yet he'll make millions to be barely adequate at best - and awful at worst - possibly for another four years.
If the idea behind releasing Edwards is to prune mediocrity from the roster, how does giving Kelsay $24 million fit into the same universe logically? The scary truth: it doesn't. It makes no sense. I've tried to make sense of it, and it hasn't happened. It's exactly why Rosenthal and Graham are correct: the team lacks vision, it lacks a plan, and it is wholly and possibly irrevocably amateur.
But it doesn't have to stay that way, and despite my exasperation, I'm still somewhat elated that the team is willing to make a move this bold. However, the team needs to start practicing the patience that it preaches. The team made its bed with Edwards, and even though it was high time for the two sides to part ways, it's tough to take their statements on patience to heart when a guy goes from starter to the waiver wire in the span of eight days. It's also tough to accept a patient route when guys like Kelsay and Corey McIntyre get contract extensions after such a small sample size with the new-look team. In short: I'm glad the team is making statements. They can do it in a much more efficient and less controversial manner simply by staying patient.