Silver Lining: Edwards Remains a Good Guy
by Dave Staba (@DavidStaba) - posted 12:17 pm, November 11, 2008
Amid the anguished finger-pointing, plaintive wailing and resigned head-shaking sweeping the region following the Buffalo Bills’ third straight defeat, Season Ticket would like to apportion a minute sliver of credit.
Quarterback Trent Edwards, by most quantitative and qualitative standards, failed miserably at New England on Sunday (not coincidentally, this was also his third consecutive regressive outing).
He did not throw accurately or effectively, throwing two grotesque interceptions and failing to complete a pass that produced a gain longer than 15 yards. Though sacked only twice, he seemed perpetually rushed and never quite certain about the nature of the of defensive contraption Patriots arch-villain Bill Belichick had conjured to stymie Buffalo’s offense. And he could not get the Bills into the end zone at Gillette Stadium until long after it had ceased to matter.
Edwards did, however, nail the post-game press scrum at his locker.
Unlike some of his predecessors at the position over the past decade, Edwards did not subtly shift blame toward his coaches, blockers, receivers, or running backs—though there was clearly plenty to go around, given the painful deficiencies in every phase of the game and on the sideline during New England’s 20-10 win. Nor did he sniff haughtily in the direction of his interrogators, clumsily try to deflect criticism with non-sequiturs or stare blankly as if posing for a Hall-of-Fame bust (not to bring back bad memories of Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, J.P. Losman or Drew Bledsoe, respectively, or anything).
Instead, he acknowledged both that criticism comes with the job and that he needs to get better at his.
“I think a little bit of everything, honestly,” Edwards said when asked where he needs to improve. “Underneath throws, deep throws, footwork, pocket presence, turnovers—everything. I think all that needs to be looked into and I need to fix it soon.”
Contrast that with the words of Jamal Lewis, running back of Cleveland, Buffalo’s next opponent, following the Browns’ collapse against Denver last Thursday.
“This is the NFL, you can’t call it quits until the game is over,” Lewis said after the Browns blew a third-quarter lead and lost 34-30 at home against the Broncos. “But it looks to me like some people called it quits before that.”
In case none of his teammates had been adequately insulted, Lewis continued.
“This is a man’s game,” Lewis noted. “The way we went out and played two weeks in a row, finishing the same kind of way, it’s just not there. Some men around here need to check themselves. Straight up.”
Certainly, Lewis possesses an unofficial master’s degree in how biological males behave in a group setting, having spent four months in a Florida prison camp after pleading guilty to using his cell phone in an effort to set up a cocaine deal. And what he said about his teammates’ tenacity may well be true, given that the Browns have surrendered leads of at least 13 points in each of their last two games while being outscored by a combined 38-7 in the fourth quarter of those contests.
Few people of any gender or profession like to be called out so publicly, though. Such dissension is clear evidence of a team in an even worse situation than Buffalo, which has now been beaten four times in five outings, the last three losses coming against divisional foes.
At least the Bills waited until late October to start letting their fans down. The Browns disappointed right out of the gate. Projected to build on last year’s 10-6 finish, Cleveland instead opened 0-3, won three of four, and gave away the last two.
As dismally as Buffalo performed Sunday—and the two Sundays before, for that matter—Cleveland offers a wounded, in-fighting foil for what should be a rather hostile Monday-night crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
A win would set the Bills up for a chance at redemption in December, when they face the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins again, since their foes for the rest of this month are the hapless Kansas City Chiefs and the slightly less pitiful San Francisco 49ers.
A loss, however, would drop the Bills to 5-5, effectively wiping out any lingering good feelings about starting 4-0 and 5-1. Then the blame game truly begins.
Dave Staba has covered the Bills since 1990. He welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. A full report on Sunday’s game will appear in the November 13 issue of Artvoice.