Trent Edwards has learned a few things during his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills, but none was more important than the eye-opener he experienced Monday after replacing J.P. Losman at quarterback. In the NFL, you're only as good as your last play, so make sure your last play was a good one.
Edwards will take over the starting job for the second time this season Sunday when the Bills play the Washington Redskins. Bills coach Dick Jauron announced the decision Monday, one day after Losman played poorly for a third straight game in a 36-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"It's not like the college level where you're the guy for the entire season and they run with you for the entire season," Edwards said. "It's so much more of a 'What have you done for me lately?' business. You have to be prepared each week, regardless if you're second or third string. It's something I'm starting to realize pretty [quickly]."
Jauron has been unhappy with his offense in general after watching the Bills score 37 total points in their last three games. He clearly was not thrilled with Losman's performance in particular Sunday, when the quarterback threw an interception in the fourth quarter with his team in position to tie the game.
Losman completed a career-high 27 passes, but he threw for only 211 yards and struggled for most of the afternoon. Seven completions came on the final drive after Jacksonville built a 22-point lead following a Buf
falo collapse. All told, he had three turnovers, including a costly fumble in the second quarter that led to a field goal.
"We're definitely looking for a spark, but that's probably not the only reason we're making the change," Jauron said. "It's got to do with production also. Really, if J.P. had brought us back and won the game, he'd still be the starter."
The Bills were looking for a big season from the fourth-year quarterback, who struggled early in the season before spraining his left knee. Losman was looking for a productive year, too, because it likely would have meant a contract extension. It had not materialized the way either had hoped.
Losman struggled in two losses before spraining his knee against New England. He returned for an injured Edwards and orchestrated two fourth-quarter scoring drives in a win over the New York Jets. Losman followed that with 295 yards passing in a convincing victory over Cincinnati but has since been ineffective.
For weeks, there's been a sense around One Bills Drive that Jauron would not waste much time before changing quarterbacks. The Bills have been high on Edwards since selecting him in the third round of the NFL draft. He will get every opportunity to succeed. Losman, 10-21 as an NFL starter, could be gone after the season.
"It's a situation that you kind of see coming," Losman said of the demotion. "It's a position where you have to win. When wins aren't being produced, you know, some people feel there's a change that needs to be made in order to get there. We're scrambling for a win right now. Coach is going to do what he feels is best."
Buffalo has the 31st-rated attack in the league averaging 267.4 yards per game. San Francisco is the only team that has been less effective. San Francisco, Atlanta and Kansas City are the only teams in the NFL with fewer points than Buffalo's 167.
Jauron, his two quarterbacks and the rest of the offense made it clear that the Bills' problems run much deeper than the man under center. Losman wasn't entirely to blame for their lack of production, but there's also little disputing that virtually every offense is centered around the play of its quarterback.
"That is the focal point," Jauron said. "We know it, and you know it, and the quarterbacks know it. There's a lot of pressure on the position. We just need more consistent play there."
The Bills' offensive problems have coincided with the absence of Marshawn Lynch, a powerful running back who has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain and likely will be sidelined against Washington. They also could be without backup Anthony Thomas, who suffered a strained calf Sunday.
At times, Buffalo's receivers have had a difficult time getting open. At times, Losman either hasn't spotted them open or misfired on his passes. There also have been breakdowns in the blocking schemes. The Bills' conservative, short-passing attack has helped opposing defenses limit their big plays.
Losman completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 1,204 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He has a passer rating of 76.9. Edwards completed 66.1 percent of his throws for 790 yards, one TD and five INTs. His passer rating is 69.9.
"I hope I can use the experience I had at the start of the season, take that and run with it the last five games," Edwards said. "I've spent a lot of time thinking about it, going over in my mind what I've learned and things I learned from sitting on the sideline. Hopefully, all that can come together for me and provide that spark."
The Bills could be without defensive end Chris Kelsay for an extended period with a severely bruised ankle. Kelsay was sidelined late in the first half Sunday after tripping over teammate Kyle Williams. Kelsay was wearing a supportive boot Monday.
Jauron was awaiting updates on Lynch, Thomas and right tackle Langston Walker. Walker sprained his elbow. The injury was not believed to be serious, but Jauron wanted to see how Walker was doing Wednesday before saying whether he would be ready to play against the Redskins.