It was moments before the third quarter of last Sunday's game against the Rams. Through the first two quarters Trent Edwards had been aggressively blitzed, was sacked four times, had thrown an interception and managed a passer rating of just 43.5. But before taking the field for the third quarter third quarterback Gibran Hamdan offered some words.
"When you're actually in the game playing you're so wrapped up in the game that you don't necessarily get another perspective on it," said Hamdan. "All you know is, man they've really confused us with a couple of things. I've missed a couple of throws. I haven't been as sharp as I've been. And you can tend to let your mind not really focus on what's at hand, which is the next play. You've just got to go one play at a time and that's what I tried to tell him. I said, 'Hey one play at a time, focus on that play as hard as you can and we'll go from there.'"
The chat certainly helped. By no means was Hamdan's conversation with Edwards the only factor in Buffalo's second half surge on offense last Sunday, but it had enough of an impact that it prompted the Bills starting quarterback to point to him on the sideline after his 39-yard touchdown strike to Lee Evans.
"I was pointing to Gibran on the sideline," Edwards confirmed. "He had a long chat with me on the sideline saying the game is still within reach. He had some pretty good words of advice for me and we were able to score and he was excited and I was excited and it was just an exciting time for us."
They've only been around each other for a year, but Edwards and Hamdan have become fast friends. Sharing a love for the game and a respect for the demands of the position, the two signal callers are tight.
"We get along as people and we're really just good friends off the field," said Hamdan. "And I think that's how it started ever since I got here. We just as friends clicked. There are sometimes people that you respect and enjoy being around and I think there's a mutual respect on both sides off the field. And it lends really well to the work that we have to do on the field."
Hamdan is going on six years that he's bounced around the NFL including a three-year stint in NFL Europe where he was League MVP in 2006, but Buffalo looks as though it could be a more permanent address for the reserve quarterback. Though his games played in the NFL regular season numbers one, there is a lot that Hamdan has provided the up and coming Edwards.
"I've been around a lot of quality quarterbacks around the league," said Hamdan. "Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer, Trent Green. And while I may not have played as much as a guy here or there I sure have experience in terms of the preparation it takes to get ready for a game."
And that's where Hamdan has been most effective in helping Edwards each week. Whether he's a sounding board for Edwards in the film room or a guy that offers a different perspective from the sidelines, Buffalo's third quarterback has helped Edwards focus and progress.
"If you can provide an atmosphere where the quarterback feels comfortable and feels trusted and respected it lends to him playing at a high level," said Hamdan. "It's a very difficult position and you have a lot of people in your face all the time and it's a highly contested position. So part of making him feel comfortable is knowing what his personality is and what is a good thing to say, what's not good to say. When's the time to say something and not to say something."
Without question offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt have had a major role in Edwards' ascension as an NFL signal caller this season, but having both been reserve quarterbacks themselves they don't dismiss the importance of the role Hamdan has.
"Everybody has to have that guy," said Van Pelt. "That was part of the role that I played here for a long time here as a backup. You have to just be there for your guy. It's not just helping him study. It's helping him see things on the field. It's knowing him well enough to calm him down when he's excited, and get him going when he's not playing well. It's a huge role at that position and he's done a great job."
During the course of a game week the starting quarterback usually spends more time in the film room than any other player or position group. Going at it alone into the evening hours can drag at times. That's why Hamdan stays late too always ready to lend an ear.
"On Wednesdays and Thursdays is when he helps me most," said Edwards. "We'll meet as a quarterback group until 4:30, but he and I will stay until 6:30 or 7 watching film, going over the game plan, going over our third down calls, going over our quick passing game. And when we're sitting there trying to decipher subtle differences between coverages we'll quiz each other and studying those looks during the week is really helping me in the games."
"As a quarterback you're sitting there after the meetings are over and you're sitting in that meeting room eating dinner watching film," said Hamdan. "So if you're sitting there by yourself it's one thing, but if there's a sounding board and you can talk through things with another quarterback it's much better."
One example was when Edwards and Hamdan were struggling with ways to remember when to check to a different call based on a certain defensive look that one of their early season opponents kept showing on film. After a couple of hours of putting their heads together they came up with a solution.
"We found a way to simplify it and handle it," said Hamdan. "Oftentimes as quarterbacks there's so much you need to know for a game depending on how complicated the defense is, so we came up with a little acronym to help us with a certain call. We had that so if he got to the line and they gave him a certain look we had something that told him to do something else. And it came up once or twice in the game and he was able to check to it successfully. It helped."
"Over the season you have so many things that change throughout the week that you have to come up with stupid acronyms," said Edwards. "The one we had was 'Bears Eat Lots of Tacos' (BELT). So if we were getting a bear front we would check to 'Taco', which was a run call for that particular week. It's little things like that where we'll write it up on the board and they help out."
Hamdan like any other competitor wishes he was playing, but he's played with enough NFL organizations to understand what his role is in Buffalo. And though on Sundays he's the third quarterback he's still one of 53 men focused on helping the team be successful.
"Each week I come to work I say to myself, 'How can I help us win a game this week,'" said Hamdan. "Obviously (Trent's) responsibilities are a little higher than mine in that respect, but I think there's an acknowledgement that the two of us together are working toward the same goal. I think there are 53 guys in the locker room that are doing that. And that's a special thing in this league because it's not often that you have all 53 guys focused on winning a game and not anything else."
"He cares so much about this team and he cares so much about me and my performance and the team doing well that he'll stay there with me for as long as it takes watching film," Edwards said.
That's why Buffalo's third quarterback doesn't need Edwards to acknowledge him on the sideline during a game. The young quarterback's success on the field is enough. It's validation for him that he may have had just a little something to do with Edwards' performance.
"From the standpoint of seeing Trent succeed or any quarterback I've been around I get a lot of pleasure out of that," said Hamdan. "It's something I can honestly say is true of me and maybe some other guys don't feel that way. The better Trent does, the better I feel about it. Anybody that's a fan of the Buffalo Bills would be happy to see everybody performing well and I'm happy in the same way."