Evans bashes Edwards, Gailey, still harbors love for Losman
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • May 24, 2011 @ 5:29pm
ESPN.com AFC East blogger Tim Graham bounced over to Sahlen’s SportsPark, where 30+ Buffalo Bills are training during the lockout, to chat with Lee Evans about the quarterback debacle that set the team back for a chunk of the 2011 season. Lee didn’t mince his words.
After Gailey was hired in January, he left little doubt in the minds of Bills fans regarding the quarterback he’d put his faith in. Trent Edwards started training camp under center, took the first snaps in pre-season action (holding his own, actually) and held the reins for the first two regular season games—both losses, including a lopsided 34-7 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champions. Edwards, dubbed “Captain Checkdown” because of his refusal to throw downfield, was mercifully cut on September 27 before later resurfacing in Jacksonville.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, the unquestioned 2011 starter if there’s a season, took over in Week 3 against New England, but never hit his stride until Week 7 against Baltimore. Without the traditional training camp reps with the first team, Fitz spent the majority of his first four weeks developing a rapport with his receivers and executing plays with new personnel. Good thing he’s a bright dude.
Evans bluntly told Graham that such faith in the former Stanford QB was a waste.
“That was a huge missed opportunity, a huge missed opportunity,” Evans told Graham at practice.
Evans’ quote really comes as no surprise; as a one-dimensional deep-threat, Evans’ production comes primarily from deep passes, which Edwards was perpetually unwilling to throw (Lee was held without a catch in that Week 2 loss to Green Bay and was only targeted once).
Although Fitzpatrick has only modest arm strength (he can throw a bullet when he has room to step into his throw), he’s willing to take risks with the football, fitting passes into tight windows and trusting his receivers to make a play on the ball. Fitz targeted the former Badger wide-out 69 times in the 11 games they started together (Evans was hurt for the last three, Fitzpatrick missed the final game), still low for a team’s featured receiver, and it’s reasonable to think that Stevie Johnson has leap-frogged Evans as the team’s number one. Lee’s best statistical seasons came with J.P. Losman under center, the cannon-armed signal-caller who possessed NFL caliber physical skills but a UFL QB’s decision-making.
In a sense, though, Evans’ comment is directed as much towards Edwards as it is to Chan Gailey, the Bills’ head coach. After all, it was Gailey’s decision to ride Edwards until the metaphorical wheels fell off; whispers in August were: “give Trent an opportunity to fail, cut ties when he does and then start over.” So who is Lee really directing this statement at?