Trent Edwards Holds The Keys To The Bills' Success

Thomas CasaleCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 28:  Trent Edwards #5 of the Buffalo Bills waits to walk on the field before the game against the New England Patriots on December 28, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

All of Buffalo has caught T.O. fever this summer.

Everywhere you look it’s all about the brash receiver who is expected to take the Bills offense to new heights this season. Heck, T.O. was even given a key to the city before playing a game for the Bills.

That just goes to show how thirsty the city of Buffalo is for a winner.

But all of the hype surrounding Owens actually helps the Bills. Why? Because it’s drawing attention away from the guy who really has all the pressure on him to carry the Bills to the playoffs this season: quarterback Trent Edwards.

Traditionally, Owens isn’t known to be a quarterback’s best friend. However, his presence in Buffalo has allowed Edwards to fly under the radar as he enters his second season as the Bills' starter under center.

With Owens and Lee Evans on the outside and Marshawn Lynch running the ball, Bills fans have visions of seeing the most explosive offense in Western New York since the mid-'90s.

But the offense’s success will ultimately come down to Edwards’ performance this season, which is far from a gimme.

On the surface, the numbers are encouraging. In 2008—Edwards’ first full season as a starter—he completed 65.5 percent of his passes and threw for 2,699 yards.

But Edwards tossed just 11 touchdown passes, compared to 10 interceptions, and he was often inaccurate on throws down the field.

Now there are two schools of thought on Edwards. The first is he performed very well in his debut season as a starter, especially when you consider the Bills' lack of firepower on offense.

The misfires down the field were more due to receivers not getting separation than Edwards not being able to throw the long ball.

He showed good accuracy on his short-to-mid range throws, and the team really likes his intelligence.

The other school of thought is Edwards is limited physically and is better suited to be a backup in the NFL.

While he does throw a good mid-range pass, he doesn’t have the accuracy to constantly deliver the ball 15-30 yards down the field, limiting what the Bills can do on offense.

Plus, for a guy who is always being praised for his intelligence, his decision making skills were poor at times last year.

It’s too early to tell what theory is correct when trying to predict the kind of quarterback Edwards will become moving forward, but this year will go a long way in deciding his fate.

While all the stories in Buffalo are about No. 81 right now, they will soon turn to No. 5 if Edwards struggles early in the year.

The Bills' front office feels it has put the pieces in place to help Edwards succeed.

Owens and Evans give Buffalo one of the top receiving tandems in the NFL, while Lynch, Dominic Rhodes, and Freddie Jackson should be a dangerous trio of ball carriers in the backfield.

Everything changed for the Bills once Owens came to town. The eyes of the football world are once again on the blue-collar town on Lake Erie. Both the team and the fans expect to win, and they expect to win right now.

And while T.O. may be getting the key to the city, he isn’t the key to the Bills success. That honor goes to Trent Edwards.

The young quarterback will be the main news story in Buffalo by year’s end, one way or the other. You can bank on it.