Buffalo Rumblings blogger, Brian Galliford, and I sat at our respective computers, drinking Mountain Dew buried under stacks of historical statistical documents and passed back and forth some knowledge.
Josh: You're saying on your blog, Buffalo Rumblings, that you think J.P. Losman is a better fit for the Bills right now. It seems, from an outsider at least, that you have quite the Quarterback controversy.
Brian: That we do. It's par for the course being a Bills fan - ever since Jim Kelly retired, we've been shuffling quarterbacks like cards in a casino. It's getting irritating - and the new regime under Dick Jauron is no different. What sucks most about this controversy is that J.P. Losman lost his job due to injury. Trent Edwards, while very poised for a rookie, hasn't been lights out (1 TD, 5 INT in 5 game appearances), and now he's got a sprained throwing wrist. When he went down, Losman came in, put up 10 points and won the game for Buffalo. We'll see if he gets his job back due to another injury; as you mentioned, I for one hope he does.
Josh: That's an interesting debate. It's the "player doesn't lose his job to injury" phrase against the "best players on the field" debate. If the better player sits because the guy he replaced during his injury was far better, then you're not adhering to your "best players on the field" philosophy. The Bengals are dealing with that at running back. Rudi Johnson is hurt, but Kenny Watson has not only been productive, but he's upgraded the performance of the rush offense compared to when Rudi was playing. What happens when Rudi returns? Will he start? Admittedly, the team is better with Rudi starting because Watson is versatile enough to be a very productive third down back. He can block, catch out of the back field and run very strong on draw.
Would you say that one of your two quarterbacks will be gone next season? It seems to me you'd rather have Losman simply because he's proven to achieve success whereas Edwards is a rookie and his fate, right now, is dictated around potential. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem holding onto Losman and allowing Edwards potential provide a nice draft pick in a league right now that's desperate for good arms.
Brian: The Bengals' RB situation seems a bit different to me because Cincinnati has already made a contractual investment in Rudi. He's been effective in his time as a Bengal, and he'll continue to start - and he deserves to do so. I feel similarly about Losman - he had a strong 2006 season, and many thought he'd proved that he deserved a full 2007 season to show whether or not he was this team's future.
I doubt he gets that opportunity. When Dick Jauron made Edwards the starter two weeks ago, he all but 100% confirmed that it was a permanent decision. The coaching staff loves his accuracy and moxie - and if that's their decision, fine. But the way that they've jerked Losman around - and the way he was jerked around by previous regimes as well - means that if Edwards keeps the starting job, Losman will almost assuredly seek a trade. I don't blame him - the kid's a starter in this league, but he's probably not going to get that gig in Buffalo. He'll make another team very happy, unless he steals the job back from Edwards in the next week or two.
Josh: The running back deal in Cincinnati is a strange one. I believe, and this is all me, that they drafted Chris Perry in 2004 to strong-arm Rudi Johnson into signing a long-term deal. In hindsight, it was a good move for the team to have two good running backs like the more successful teams are employing these days. After Perry suffered through two injury plagued seasons, they drafted Kenny Irons, another talented running back, who was to be the guy that would make the progression into full-time feature back. However, he blew out his knee in preseason.
The thing about Rudi though is that he's actually slowing up like most running backs into their seventh season. So in a way, that progression to the next guy is needed at some point. Who? Well, that's a coin flip.
In general, how does your defense look?
Brian: Our defense has been improving dramatically over the past month. A lot of people saw the first step in that process, when the Bills forced six Tony Romo turnovers in a near-upset of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. Over the past four games (three of them Bills wins), the defense has given up just one 100-yard rusher (Willis McGahee) and other than the s points the Cowboys scored, have given up no more than 14.
Despite 7 one-time starters missing time on D (LB P. Posluszny, LB C. Wire, LB K. Ellison, CB T. McGee, CB A. Youboty, S K. Simpson, S J. Leonhard), the unit has found a way to make a ton of plays. In the team's current 3-1 streak, the defense has forced 12 turnovers (9 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries). The unit has produced at least one turnover in all seven games this season - even against the Patriots! That, more than a dominant run or pass D, has been the key to the success recently.
Josh: Marshawn Lynch seems like a great fit in Buffalo.
Brian: He is! We endured three years of watching Willis McGahee hesitate and dance his way to mediocrity in Buffalo, so to see a kid who lays it all out on the line, week in and week out, and fights for every inch of real estate he can muster is refreshing. Plus, the kid's got charisma. We certainly hope he can bring a sense of stability to our run game for a long time - much like Rudi Johnson has done in Cincinnati.
Josh: Kenny Mayne on ESPN's NFL Countdown was at BW3s, with Lynch, proving there's plenty to do in Buffalo. An obvious dig on Willis McGahee. Is there bad feelings there considering the Bills took a risk and drafted a guy in the first round that bummed his knee horribly in the National Championship game?
Brian: Oh, absolutely. Remember TO's return to Philly? This was a similar experience - though admittedly, Bills fans aren't quite as crazy as Eagles fans. But there is most certainly bad blood - Willis can make the "bad O-Line" argument all he wants, but there's a reason that Anthony Thomas was almost as effective as Willis last season. Fans got sick of his running, really sick of his sideline vomiting after his long runs and REALLY sick of his anti-Buffalo commentary. The fans were all over him from the opening whistle two weeks ago - including yours truly.
Fun fact: prior to Lynch, Buffalo's last two workhorse running backs (McGahee, Travis Henry) have a combined 12 children out of wedlock.
Josh: And who said that running backs lose their potency after a sustained career? The Bengals offense is staggering, right now, like a drunk chick at a party. The defense is offensive. Is there anything wildcard or variables that Bengals fans should know?
Brian: JP Losman is starting this game! The Bengals' struggling defense will have a curveball thrown at it this week, seeing as Losman has not started since Week 3. There's not much film on Losman from this year, so it might be a bit more difficult than usual to game-plan for the Bills' offense this week. If the Bills can put up points on Cincy, there will be a lot of pressure on Carson Palmer and the struggling Bengals' offense to keep up.
Josh: Well, that is if we actually prepare for our opponents anymore. Thanks Brian.
Another Classic Brian Fun Fact: the Bills and Bengals have combined for 5 wins this season. Three of those are against the Jets.