Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Down in the Trentches

It was a move that surprised many given the timing, but Trent Edwards got his dishonorable discharge from the Bills on Monday. His release is just the latest in what's becoming a regular pattern of in-season-shakeups to try and start the sputtering Bills' engine.

Head Coach Chan Gailey is taking on the look of a man who doesn't take BS, and the field was sure littered with the remains of some BS offense from the Bills in the first two weeks of 2010. It appears that Gailey watched the Bills play respectably against the Patriots, determined afterwards that Trent was the cause of many offensive problems on gameday, and decided to cut his losses and rid himself of a perceived mistake.

The cannonballs are already flying among supporters of the team. Many feel like this was set in motion by owner Ralph Wilson, and they have some ammunition in the fact that Trent's ouster saves the Bills a million bucks (only because Edwards had less than four full seasons under his belt). Others think that it reeks of managerial incompetence to sack Trent only a week removed from concrete status as "The Starter." It's true: Gailey had all offseason and then some to look at the tape on Trent, and by and large the picture was getting uglier than that Panaphonix VCR you got from the dollar bin at Big Lots.

My take: Gailey really, truly thought he could rescue Trent from the abyss. He'd done more with lesser candidates like Jay Fiedler, Tyler Thigpen, and Kordell Stewart. Preseason proved him moderately right, though there were warning signs regarding his ability to handle 3-4 defenses. It just turns out that "Gameday Trent" is a scaredy-cat, shell-of-himself player that can't play decisively anymore - at least not when the pressure is on. He became Son of Jor-On. He played it too safe for too long. When he twice threw up the equivalent of a shrug on 4th down, with the team behind late in games against Miami and Green Bay, his future in Buffalo was over.

To put it in more quantifiable terms, let's look at Yards Per Attempt (YPA), a figure more understandable than passer rating in evaluating QBs. Trent's YPA figure was 4.6 on the season. That means for every deep pass he connected on (and no, there weren't many), he had to have many, many negative or neutral plays. A successful quarterback is well north of 7 YPA, and Trent wasn't even close.

Perhaps in some new surroundings he'll find a cast that supports his skill-set better, and gives him the protection he needs to find confidence in the pocket again. The fact is, that wasn't going to happen in Buffalo, and Sunday's results against New England told us as much about the quarterback who was replaced as it did about the one who started for the Bills. So, we wish Trent well, whether we were fans or not.

Buffalo faces different challenges now; they'll have to account for Ryan Fitzpatrick's risk-taking against even more opportunist defenses, but they will at least play to win despite the level of talent on their roster. That was in question after Trent's opening to 2010. As such, the Edwards era, one of the signature remaining ties to the Jauron/Levy era, is over.

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