The second year QB looked like an up and coming star through the first few weeks of the season. He was becoming one of the young poster boys for the NFL. He made appearances on ESPN’s NFL Countdown, Rome is Burning, PTI, ESPN the Magazine and everything in between. Some were even calling the 25 year old quarterback the next Tom Brady and a candidate for the MVP.
That changed over the course of the season, and it may have to do with a concussion that Edwards faced in Week five against the Arizona Cardinals. He was knocked out of that game and took the bye week off to rest. He returned in the Bills next schedule game and played pretty well.
So what exactly happened?
Edwards looked sluggish and his decision making has turned into that of a certain Bills QB that is currently sitting on the bench during the games. He has had his share of mistakes and “brain farts” this season. He has thrown terrible interceptions, even been stripped while stretching for a first down.
After taking a look at some of film from NFL.com, Edwards hasn't been making the right decisions during the last few weeks. Yes, he has made some great plays but his overall level of play has dropped off. It is just a matter of making the right choices though, as shown in the examples.
Example 1: Week 9 vs. the NY Jets, :15 left in the 1st Quarter
3rd and Goal on the Jets 15
The Bills line up in the shotgun formation. Two wide receivers were to the left side of the field while one was lined up on the right. The running back was on Edward’s right in the backfield.
Edwards took the snap and took three steps. He stepped up and delivered a strike to the left side of the field. He was hit as soon as he released the ball. He was trying to hit Roscoe Parrish on an out pattern.
Parrish ended up falling down but even if he stayed on his feet, the pass would still have gone the other way. Edwards throw the ball into a zone that had double coverage on Parrish and one other player from the Jets secondary was right behind them as he was following Robert Royal who was running a pattern right behind him.
The throw was really going into a crowd that had the Bills outnumbered, 3-2. The pass was picked off and instead of just taking the sack, the interception went the other way for a touchdown and the Jets took an even bigger lead.
Example 2: Week 10 vs. the New England Patriots, :21 left in the 1st Quarter
1st and 10 from the Buffalo 13, Patriots up 7-0
Edwards was once again the “gun”. He had three wide receivers to the right of the formation and one wide receiver, Lee Evans, to the left. Edwards took the snap and dropped three steps. He quickly released the ball to the left side, a pass intended for Evans, who was wide open.
The pass sailed high and behind Evans, and was intercepted. It was a basic "Cover 3" defense (three guys back in a 3-deep zone, with the linebackers dropping back into coverage, covering the underneath patterns). Edwards this time made the right read, but threw a terrible pass. He had his man open but just couldn’t execute.
Example 3: Week 10 vs. the New England Patriots, :45 left in the 3rd Quarter
2nd and 10 from the Buffalo 45, Patriots Lead 13-3
It was another shotgun formation that the offense came out in. Two wide outs were lined up on the left while 1 wide receivers and TE Robert Royal were on the right. The running back was lineup up next to Edwards on his right side.
Edwards takes the snap and looks for the open man. The Patriots defense was in zone coverage with a spy on the running back coming out of the backfield (a linebacker was not rushing or dropping back into coverage, just watching and reacting to what the running back did). The Patriots only rushed three guys.
Edwards looked and fired a pass to the right where he thought Robert Royal was wide open. It turned out that he wasn’t in the least. The veteran cornerback jammed the wide receiver on the side of Royal, making Edwards think that it was man to man coverage. He then released the pass to Royal that was easily picked off when that same cornerback dropped back into his zone. It was an easy pick due to Edward’s lack of recognition.
These three examples each showed a way in which Edwards was struggling in. His lack of recognition, execution, and forced passes each contributed to some of his struggles. Now don’t get me wrong, Trent is a great young talent that despite his struggles, is still considered to be the franchise QB. He can get better and a lot of these problems can be fixed with more playing time and he gets more experienced at the position
My only question was why now? It must be because defenses are starting to adjust to him and fool him. That is my only guess seeing as he started off the year so hot. In the first 4 games, Edwards went 78-of-119 (65.5%), 930 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 94.6 QB rating.
Then in week five against Arizona, he suffered the concussion after going 3 of 3 for 18 yards.
Then Edwards bounced back against San Diego, going 25-of-30 (83.3% which tied a franchise record), 261 yards, 1 TD (0 INTS) and a QB rating of 114. It looked like he was back to his old self.
But then the last three games hit him hard, as the Bills went 0-3 in them. Edwards, in the 3 games combined, went 58-of-93 (62.4%), 636 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs, and a 65.2 QB rating.
Now I don’t expect the guy to play great every game, and I understand that he is young and even the best struggle (just take a look at Peyton Manning this season) but the inconsistency is what scares me.
He has showed he can play towards the top of the league but has also showed that he can fall too. The Bills will only go as far as their QB and they need him to step up and lead this team for some wins.
It all starts Monday night.