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5 Good Questions: Buffalo Bills Edition

As we often do here, I had the chance to catch up with the best blogger on the internet about our opposition this week.  Brian from Buffalo Rumblings was good enough to spare some time and answer 5 Bills-related questions.  And, of course, I returned the favor.  Head on over to Buffalo Rumblings to check out my responses to his 5 questions about the best winless team in the NFL.  It should be posted sometime on Friday morning.  Now, onto my questions for Brian.

What do you think about Trent Edwards?  As an outsider, it seems to me that he's going to have a bright future ahead of him.  But you see him every week.  What are his strengths?  Weaknesses?

If he's going to realize his potential, he needs to start scoring touchdowns.  Yes, he's technically 4-1 as a starter, but two of those wins came against the 3-9 Jets.  Bottom line is that Edwards has one touchdown toss as compared to five interceptions; when he's been in at QB (over the span of 6 games), the Bills have scored just 67 points.  Somehow, it's been good enough for 4 wins in that time, but it's certainly not going to keep the team competitive against the league's elite.

Despite his lack of statistical prowess, there's a lot to like about Trent.  He's got a great pocket presence - something that the Bills haven't had at the position in a very, very long time.  He's smart, he handles pressure well, and he's accurate.  He doesn't have the strongest arm in the world, but he's got enough zip on his passes to hit most NFL throws at a consistent rate.  The kid has a lot to learn, and he'll need to take more chances at putting points on the board.  But once he gets more experience, we expect that points and big plays will come.

Considering that J.P. Losman has a 2-5 record as a starter this year while Edwards has a 4-1 record, has Dick Jauron taken any heat for deciding to start J.P. Losman over Trent Edwards in weeks 11 and 12?  Or has the success of the team as a whole protected him from any criticism on how he's handled the quarterback situation?

First, a technicality: Edwards gets credit for being 4-1, but in reality, it was Losman who pinch-hit 10 offensive points in their victory over the Jets in Jersey - a game Edwards started.  Losman also gets credit for a loss as a starter in New England when he only played one series before going down with a knee injury.  So while the disparity you mentioned seems to indicate that Jauron made the wrong decision, the numbers are screwy.  The reality is that Losman is 3-4, and Edwards is 3-2.  Looking at it that way makes the most sense to me.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  When Losman beat the Jets, Edwards was injured; after J.P. beat the Bengals and your Dolphins in subsequent weeks, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to take him out of the lineup.  After he struggled for two weeks, it was clearly time for Jauron to put the QB he prefers back in the lineup.  It's the only way Jauron could handle the situation, and I admire him for sticking with his guns through the whole ordeal.

Back in 2006, I was hoping for Donte Whitner to fall to us at #16.  But my dreams were quickly dashed when your Bills snatched him up at #8.  The Dolphins had to settle for Jason Allen who has been...disappointing, to say the least.  How has Whitner performed for your Bills and how good do you think he can be?

It depends on your definition of the word "perform".  If you look at his tackle totals (nearing 200 for his career) and take into account the fact that he's already established himself as a leader on this team, then yes, Whitner has performed admirably.  He's great against the run, versatile, and a hard hitter - and he works hard.  The coaches love him.

If you're like me, however, you notice the lack of big plays from the former Top 10 pick.  Whitner has picked off just one pass in his career - and it was in his NFL debut, off of Tom Brady.  Since then, he's riding a 27-game INT-less streak, and hasn't made many other plays to make up for it.  We like Whitner here; he's an important part of this team.  We just need him to start becoming a difference-maker.  It needs to happen quickly.

To have a realistic shot at making the playoffs, I'd imagine the Bills would have to win all of their remaining games.  What are the odds Buffalo can pull this off and continue their surprise season into January?

The Bills technically don't have to win all their games to get in, but they'd need unrealistic amounts of help to get in finishing 9-7.  Ironically enough, they almost control their own destiny - since Cleveland is on the schedule, if they win out, they'd leapfrog the Browns for the final spot (factoring in the need for one or two Titans losses as well).  We'll take it one game at a time, starting with Miami, but a home date against the Giants and a road game in Philadelphia are too far into the future to worry about at this time.

The game that really scares me is in two weeks, when Buffalo travels to Cleveland.  That's the game the Bills really need to have, as they're chasing Cleveland, and I just don't think they have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Browns on the road - despite Cleveland's struggles defensively.  Cleveland is averaging 31 points per game at home this season; Buffalo's eclipsed that total just once this season.  That will be the toughest game on our remaining schedule.  Realistically, I'm hoping for at least a split and an 8-8 season.

With the Dolphins sitting at 0-12 and having a real possibility at going winless in 2007, what are Bills' fans saying about this week's upcoming game?  Do most fans think Buffalo will win easily or are they more worried that this Dolphins team might be desperate enough to keep this game close?

Bills fans aren't really talking about this game, to tell you the truth - for some reason, the popular topic of conversation is still the Losman/Edwards debate (one which I was under the impression had already been resolved... but maybe that's just me).  The behavior is against better judgment - Miami always gives Buffalo a run for their money, and this week isn't any different.  Miami will come to play, and if Buffalo doesn't match their intensity, they could very well be playing from behind.  Our team doesn't do that well.

I do believe that the Dolphins have a shot at keeping it close.  The Bills don't have a lot of game film to go on with John Beck, and the defense is banged up enough that the Bills are sure to see different looks.  That said, the game's at Ralph Wilson Stadium, it's a must-win for Buffalo, and I think they'll do just that.  It might be uncomfortably close, but the Bills should win.

A big thanks again to Brian!  And like I said, head on over to Buffalo Rumblings to see how I answered his Dolphins-related questions.

Also, incase you were wondering, the game preview post for this week's game will be coming tomorrow.