By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
It's been a long, long time since expectations for a Bills season have been as low as they are heading into the 2010 season. Most Bills fans have seen, or at least heard about more than one NFL media observer predicting the Bills will finally get that franchise quarterback - by getting the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Now, I'm not saying that's what new gm Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey are planning on as they look to rebuild a team that hasn't been awful, but not very good either, over the past several seasons. But it does seem like a reasonable possibility at this point, since the Bills have arguably the most unsettled quarterback situation in the league heading into the season.
Nix says after breaking down all the films of the returning three quarterbacks; Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm, he and his scouting staff and Gailey agreed the guys who are here would be more likely to play this coming season than some of the potential draft picks like Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy they passed on.
While that doesn't sound like much of a compliment to Clausen or McCoy, I think they're probably right. Very few NFL rookie qb's start right away, and fewer yet enjoy success. Because the Bills didn't address the qb situation until the 7th round (Levi Brown - Troy) and didn't address the left tackle situation until round 5 (Ed Wang - Virginia Tech), it would be crazy to think Clausen or McCoy would win a starting job and have success.
That doesn't mean Edwards, Fitzpatrick or Brohm will enjoy success either, although I do believe Gailey's offensive mind and organizational abilities will be a marked improvement over the disaster-in-the-making of a year ago. What else could be expected with a fired offensive coordinator just before the regular season to be replaced by an o-coordinator with virtually no NFL coordinator experience taking over?
Anybody wonder why Trent Edwards totally lost his swagger and confidence? How could he NOT?
The one fantasy most Bills have right now, other than having a veteran qb land in their laps after being cut, is that Brian Brohm would emerge into the qb everybody thought would be a top 3 or 4 overall pick out of Louisville in 2007. Brohm stayed and then flunked his rookie test at Green Bay, but he still has size, talent and brains.
In fact, ALL the Bills qb's have size, if we must find ONE positive aspect to hang on this group. Fitzpatrick is the "runt" of the litter at 6-2, 225, with Edwards 6-4, 231, Brohm 6-4, 225, and Brown 6-3, 229.
Brains? No contest there, at least from what we can measure. Not only is Fitzpatrick a Harvard grad, he reportedly received either a 49 or perfect 50 on his Wonderlic test, and did it in an almost unheard of 9 minutes. But Fitzpatrick is also, in my mind, the least accurate of the group, although I have yet to really watch Brown under pressure.
To me, Edwards is the odds-on favorite to win the job outright, with the bigger challenge coming from Brohm. If Fitzpatrick or Brown wind up starting, that means a lot of bad things have been happening. With Edwards history of injuries both with the Bills and even at Stanford, I'd say its a toss up as to which is his biggest obstacle to overcome; injuries or the loss of confidence from the Dick Jauron regime.
Certainly the acquisition of C.J. Spiller, with his 4.3 speed and great receiving ability, will help whatever qb eventually plays, but the o-line is still way too big a question mark to feel very optimistic about. Not only that, Lee Evans is the only proven "big play" receiver. Not good.
As this is written, Marshawn Lynch is still a part of the team, and there's the chance he could still be here when the season starts, but I'm still convinced the Bills are waiting for injuries or better offers before shipping him elsewhere with Spiller and Fred Jackson their 1-2 guys. Having Lynch, who is respected by his teammates even if he can't get his act together off the field, would be a nice luxury since injuries are inevitable.
There are reasons for optimism, of course, if everybody stays healthy and Gailey's offense is better and the new 3-4 defense can finally stop being pushed around.
But reality is also that the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins are all looking improved, and the Bills have won exactly 2 of their last 12 AFC East matchups.
Maybe just the addition of Spiller makes me think this year's Bills team will at least be more entertaining, but then again, the Bills are likely to get one thing right this season;
Good positioning to finally get a franchise quarterback.