Since the first day of OTA’s, Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey has stated the starting quarterback position would be an open competition between incumbent Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s plausible that at least in Gailey’s mind, this is true. However, if it is, Brohm is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight.
The Bills are now halfway through the preseason. Brohm didn’t see a single snap in the opener at Washington and by the time he entered the game against Indianapolis this past Thursday in Toronto, the starters were already long gone; most having traded in their helmets and shoulder pads for a freshly fitted baseball cap.
Maybe Brohm isn’t the answer anyway to the team’s quarterback woes that have plagued them in recent years. He was a college standout at Louisville and a second round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2008, but failed to be out Matt Flynn in Green Bay for the backup job to Aaron Rodgers. He clearly wasn’t valued by the Packers organization when the Bills signed him. they could’ve kept him their property simply by promoting him to the active roster, but didn’t. That’s telling in itself.
Still, it’s impracticable to argue that in this “competition”, Brohm isn’t playing against a stacked deck.
Gailey should give Brohm a real chance to win the starting job if it’s truly open. Why does Edwards get the luxury of evaluation while handing the ball off to C.J. Spiller and playing catch with Lee Evans. Meanwhile, Brohm looks behind him and sees Chad Simpson in the backfield and is calling routes for the likes of David Jones, Aaron Rhea and Naaman Roosevelt.
It extends to the offensive line as well. Edwards has the full repertoire of starting linemen at his disposal. Sure, they’re a unit under intense scrutiny, but compared to the reserves they may as well be the Bills line of 20 years ago. Meanwhile, This was the line that had the duty of protecting Brohm when he entered last Thursday; Jamon Meredith, Nick Hennessey, Christian Gaddis, Cordaro Howard, and Kirk Chambers. Meredith is the blue-chip prospect of the group, being a fifth round draft pick and all. Chambers is the only other player who was even drafted; selected in the sixth round by Cleveland in 2004.
The most maddening thing about Edwards is there’s nothing we’ve seen this summer that doesn’t revolve around the same pattern every fan, critic and those indifferent haven’t seen the past few years. Sure, if you give him time to throw the ball and Evans gets 10 yards behind his defender, Edwards will deliver a potent dart for a touchdown. But get some pressure on him and Edwards will fold like a tent. Commit an early turnover and it’s the last chance you’ll see him take all day.
If it takes poise and brilliance to deliver a two yard pass to Fred Jackson or Derek Schouman on third and 11, then Edwards is a genius.
There’s also the durability factor. Color me befuddled if Gailey thinks Edwards can hold up for a full season given his past three. That goes double for 2010 with the pair of offensive tackles the Bills are on the verge of trotting out for the season opener. Robert Mathis used Cornell Green like a turnstile during a first quarter pass attempt this past Thursday. He nearly decapitated Edwards’ head, but settled for knocking his helmet clean off .
It’s not what most Bills fans want to hear, but it is what it is— this is a woeful offensive line excluding a pair of young guards with potential. It’s not the kind of line you can trust an injury prone quarterback like Edwards with.
Maybe over the long haul Brohm wouldn’t be any better. Given the track record of Bills quarterbacks since No. 12 hung up his cleats, it’s highly likely a prolonged Brohm starting campaign would produce similar mediocre results the past several signal callers have enjoyed. Still, he deserves a fair shake, and it doesn’t look like he’s getting it anytime soon.
For Brohm, the best case scenario would be a chance to earn a starting gig after the Bills fifth game. The team has a bye that week and with a brutal early schedule, they could easily have just one win headed into the break. That could be Brohm’s one, and perhaps only chance to show this staff he should be running the offense.
Then again, It’s not even a lock he’ll be on the roster come opening day. We’ve neglected to mention a peep about Fitzpatrick,. because he’s never truly been in any starting quarterback equation. However, as we wrote before camp started there’s a fair chance if Brohm couldn’t beat out Edwards he’d get released. Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the overall tools and certainly not the live arm Brohm possesses, but what he does have is a certain degree of savvy, a lot more playing experience and perhaps most important— the mindset to fully embrace a backup role.
Brohm has only appeared in one of two preseason games with Cincinnati up next on the schedule on Saturday. If Gailey is truly serious about evaluating Brohm, then he, not Edwards should be taking the snaps with the first team.
He played well enough against the Colts to warrant further review.