For some it's the biggest question on any list concerning the Bills and their fortunes in 2009. In a quarterback driven league it's no surprise that most feel the play of Trent Edwards will largely determine just how successful Buffalo can be this season. Now entering year three, Edwards is expected to be more consistent, more effective and ultimately more productive when it comes to scoring.
The coaching staff expects it, which is why they've put a lot more responsibility on Edwards' shoulders entering the '09 campaign. He will have full control of changing plays at the line of scrimmage and at times will have to execute those pre-snap decisions in hurry up mode when the offense goes no huddle.
"He's got more on his plate, absolutely," said head coach Dick Jauron.
So can Edwards not only be a better quarterback in 2009, but handle the added responsibility thrust upon him in year three?
If you ask Edwards he welcomes all of it.
"I like it a lot," he said. "I like the system that we have in place right now. As a quarterback, it puts a lot of pressure on you. It adds a lot of responsibility in terms of getting your offense in the right play and the right call and that's enjoyable as a quarterback. You want the ball in your hands late in the game when the game is on the line, and every play on this field is like that."
With the no huddle approach expected to be a greater part of Buffalo's attack this season, Edwards does admit it will be challenging to get everyone organized while deciphering defensive looks and deciding whether an audible is necessary in an up tempo mode.
"That's always the hardest part," said Edwards. "You have to figure out signals, you have to communicate some things with receivers. There was a route this spring that I missed to Lee (Evans) that wasn't communicated the right way and that's going to be the big issue for us offensively if we do go to that style of offense. We need to be able to signal out there and understand what route the receiver is going to run. It's part of the process, we're going to go through some growing pains with this, but I'm excited about where this is going."
And growing pains are something that Jauron is not afraid to mention as his starting signal caller continues to develop.
"I think we need to remember that Trent is a young quarterback," Jauron said. "He is learning. We also need to give him credit for the fact that when he was on the field we were 7-5. He had a high completion percentage and did a really nice job. So he needs to move forward from there and if he does that we'll have a real chance. I have a lot of faith in him and I believe rightly so because he's performed."
Edwards' teammates have also been quick to remind outside observers that while their quarterback is the trigger man, there is added responsibility for the other 10 men on offense as well.
"If he sees something that he likes he does have to get the guy in a position to make a play," said Lee Evans. "But it also puts the onus on us to be on the same page with him as well. I think that's the thing that's good practice for us and I think it will pay off as we continue this going to training camp."
Through the spring Edwards' checks at the line were often good decisions that got the offense into a better play prior to the snap. Buffalo's quarterback realizes he's not going to be perfect with every decision he makes, but as long as he turns to a play that's better than the one already called he can live with it, for now.
"The great thing about this coaching staff is that they're not always going to question whenever I make a check and that's nice for me," he said. "I'm not double-thinking myself out there. I'll come back to the huddle, or I'll come back to them and I'll discuss it with them, but once I make a check I stick with it and then we make our adjustments off of it. There are some I wish we could fix and there are some that I make a mistake on, but the majority of those are just call it, check to it and run it."
The added responsibility now entrusted to Edwards has appeared to help encourage him to carry himself more confidently. Knowing the coaching staff has his back appears to have gone a long way in convincing Edwards that he is, and has to be, the man.
That's why when asked about pressure Edwards is comfortable brushing it off.
"I think since freshman year in high school there was some pressure, and there's been more and more each year as I got older," said Edwards. "I think that just comes with age, that comes with the media, that comes with the fans, that comes with the expectations you put on yourself and expectations from every one of your teammates and coaches.
"I think that's part of the quarterback position. It might get a little more attention than the other positions. I'm excited for it, I'm going to embrace it and I'm hoping for a big year. And that's what we're doing right now, is preparing for a big year."