ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Trent Edwards is developing a thick skin.
It’s not beluga whale- or rhinoceros-thick yet, but give this quarterback a few more years in Buffalo and it just might get there.
Coming off a year like he and the Bills had — a 6-10 out-of-the-playoffs finish, 30th ranked offence (274 yards a game) and 28th ranked in scoring (16.1) — left a fan base crying out for more ... much more.
Edwards, an admitted optimist, is looking at this season as a new beginning.
He’s got a new head coach, a new offensive co-ordinator, and a solid opportunity for at least one more year as the Bills starting quarterback.
Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm are all taking equal reps during OTA’s. According to new head coach Chan Gailey no one has separated themselves from another yet, although to hear Gailey tell it, real football hasn’t begun yet.
“It’s easy when you’re wearing shorts and nobody is hitting you,” Gailey said Wednesday. “That’s the easy time to play quarterback. It’s hard when they’re all flying around you and trying to take your head off.”
The fact that Edwards is getting first reps might suggest he has an edge or it might not.
Edwards certainly isn’t proclaiming the job his. He’s also not into making excuses or laying blame for why things went so bad last year either.
Depending on who you are talking to, the Buffalo offence stalled because A) Dick Jauron was so ultra conservative he wouldn’t call a downfield play if his life depended on it; B) Edwards was so fearful of making a mistake he routinely checked down to the shortest possible pass route; or C) the offensive line was so young and so inexperienced neither Edwards nor Fitzpatrick had a hope of getting enough protection to even have the opportunity to throw a ball downfield.
Edwards refuses to throw Jauron or anyone else under the bus saying all three were probably part of the problem.
The closest he did come to pointing a finger on Wednesday in a one-on-one chat following his workout was when he said: “Having a coach that believes in you and is calling the right play at the right time. That may or may not have happened last year that we don’t have the right play called at the right time. Fans and media can criticize and try and find answers for it, but I would say it’s a little of everything. It’s tough now looking back on it. You wish you could have changed some things, but what has happened, happened and you have to move on.”
And Edwards is quite happy to move on with Gailey, a guy who has made his name with his offensive ingenuity.
“It’s really just one person I’m reporting to now,’ Edwards says of the biggest difference between last year and this. “We have a position coach and an offensive coordinator, but Chan is sitting in all the meetings and Chan is calling all the plays, designing everything and making all the decisions. We’re meeting with him so any question or problem I have I’m going to him. It didn’t happen that way in the past.”
Edwards refused to be very specific about the past.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but the way it was working out (last season) it wasn’t working at all,” he said.
“That was just a small issue. Everyone kind of had different views starting at the top and going all the way to the bottom. Now it’s just one approach and that’s a lot easier as a player.”
As for his thick skin, Edwards acknowledges it’s not something he enjoyed developing, but it became a necessity and he hopes he’s better for the experience.
“I’ve really learned a lot over the last year,” he said. “You find out there are some people out there that don’t really like you that you thought liked you. There are things that are said to you and your family that you wish weren’t said and are just very ignorant comments. Every athlete, everyone in the public eye is a target for that. It’s interesting to me having gone through that and witnessed some things I never thought I would see, but I’m glad I went through it to be honest.”
And if it helps him become the kind of starting quarterback in the league that he feels he can be, it will even have been worth it.