All right, I think we're done now. That knocking sound you hear is the jury foreman, alerting the court of public opinion that a verdict is ready. It's finally over for J.P. Losman. He's had his last trial run as the Bills' franchise quarterback, and he has failed miserably.
Losman had his chance Sunday against the Jaguars. The Bills were on the road, battling for their playoff lives against a rival AFC playoff contender. Playing without Marshawn Lynch, they needed Losman to raise the level of his play, and to lift his team above difficult circumstances in the process.
Instead, Losman turned in another sorry performance. The "Bad J.P." reappeared, like some annoying neighbor who keeps crashing the party. He threw two interceptions into double coverage. He fumbled the ball away on a quarterback sneak. He threw another ill-advised pass that came very close to being picked off for a touchdown.
Other than that, he was fine in the Bills' 36-14 loss. Losman completed 27 passes, a career high. Of course, 13 of them went to running backs. Until a meaningless drive in garbage time, only two of his completions had traveled 10 yards down field. His buddy, Lee Evans, didn't catch a pass until 44 seconds remained.
Is this any way for a defiant gunslinger to go down -- throwing check-down passes in the flat? Early in the year, he was calling for the coaches to "open it up" and "let it hang out, let it fly." But in a game that was being portrayed as his last stand, Losman played timidly. The gunslinger put away his six gun and pulled out a water pistol.
Yes, he did what the coaches asked of him. They gave him the Trent Edwards game plan, same as they did in Miami. And Losman made all those simple throws. The problem was, he couldn't make the hard ones. In the moment of truth, he locked onto the wrong receiver and threw the ball to the other team. Twice. Three if you count the interception that was dropped. Is it any wonder the coaches don't ask him to throw down the field more?
Losman was soundly outplayed by David Garrard, a former fourth-round draft pick who has improved by leaps and bounds this season. Garrard made every tough throw. He threw for a career-high 296 yards and no interceptions. He hasn't thrown an interception all season.
On Losman's big day, a relatively unknown QB had the day of his life. Losman suffered badly by comparison. Garrard managed the game well. He moved well in the pocket. He didn't panic. He threw balls into tight spots. You know what I saw in Garrard? Dick Jauron's dream quarterback. I saw an advanced version of Edwards, the Bills' quarterback of the future.
Jauron wouldn't evaluate Losman's performance, or speculate on a possible change (big surprise). He said he had to watch the tape, as if you needed film to confirm Losman's shortcomings. But Jauron made it clear that he wasn't thrilled with the turnovers.
"We'll look at the tape on everybody and see how it looked," Jauron said. "But we just can't make the mistakes like that and win the game."
It sounded as if Jauron was drafting his remarks for this week, when he announces Losman is no longer the starter. Jauron is in a tough spot. A month ago, he made Edwards the starter. Losman took over when Edwards got hurt and stayed in because the Bills won. Jauron said it was about performance. This is three bad performances in a row by his "backup."
So Jauron has the justification to pull Losman now. The experiment is over. The gunslinger idea has no currency with this coach. I'm told that most of the players want Losman to start. If that's true, I've overestimated the intelligence of this young team.
Losman admitted that Sunday was a big opportunity for him. He didn't take advantage, and now the opportunity is there for the coach to take him out. Jauron is a smart man. Losman is the antithesis of his type of quarterback. It's time for the coach to show some intellectual honesty and make the change.
It's the best thing for the team. They're not a legitimate playoff contender. These last two games have made that painfully obvious. You don't give up 92 points in a two-week span if you're a playoff team. So let Edwards finish the season and get him ready to be the No. 1 guy next season.
Losman has become a pathetic figure, conflicted about his own identity as a quarterback. I know it's a team game and it's not all his fault. But he plays the most vital position, and it's doing the team no good to see him founder. The defense seemed deflated by Losman's second interception, which came with the Bills trailing, 22-14, in the fourth quarter.
They seemed uninterested on Maurice Jones-Drew's late TD run, when he raced 17 yards into the end zone, untouched. Maybe the emotional and physical toll of this season has caught up to an undermanned defense. Remember last summer, when we assumed the offense was going to roll up points and make the defense's job easier?
The Jags had scored 24 points in four straight games coming in. So you figured the Bills would need 24 to be in it. They needed Losman to be at his best, to win one of those 31-28 games people anticipated before the season. He needed to outplay Garrard, at the very least. But Garrard wiped the floor with him. The Bills were impressed.
"He's doing what they ask him to do," said safety Donte Whitner. "He controls the football game and doesn't try to do anything out of character. He's not going to throw into double or triple coverage."
You know, like the other guy.