A View from Calico Jack’s – 11/27/2007

What should we make of JP Losman?

Some of you would probably say, “A speed bump” – a minor distraction on route to a more desirable destination. Others, being more literal minded, would simply mean you want to run over him with a car.

But, I’m not asking what we should make out of him. I’m asking what should we make of him? Is he still full of potential…or are those who think that simply “full of it?” Is he developing, or regressing? Is he our best hope, or simply the latest in a long line of post-Kelly disappointments?

I can’t answer whether or not JP is our best hope, but we can explore his career to date from a specific perspective suggested by NYCBBB co-founder, Matt Soreco. To paraphrase Matt:

“Who has Losman ever beaten? Does he ever beat anyone that is any good, or does he keep beating the Texans?”

Well, JP has in fact defeated the Texans – twice. The only team he has defeated more often is the Fish (a point in his favor, as far as I’m concerned).

With acknowledgement to Matt for coming up with this idea, let’s explore each of JP’s career victories in terms of the season-ending won/loss records of the teams he beat. In the case of his 2007 victories, we’ll note the opponent’s record entering the game.

Bengals (2-5)
Fish (0-8)

Fish – twice (6-10)
Vikings (6-10)
Packers (8-8)
Houston (6-10)
Jax (8-8)
Jets (10-6)

Houston (2-14)
KC (10-6)

So, what does this tell us?

Well, stats can mean pretty much anything you want them to mean. But, I really don’t have a horse in the race in the sense that I’m not strongly pro- or anti-JP From my pretty-much unbiased point of view…I believe the statement implied by Matt Soreco’s question – that JP doesn’t beat good teams – is pretty much true. He did beat a hot Jets team near the end of 2006, and a good KC team in 2005. And the Packers and Jacksonville teams he beat in 2006 weren’t bad.

All in all, though, his victories have come against bad teams, with a combined won/loss record of 64-95. Certainly, not all of his losses came against the likes of the Patriots.

I mentioned two paragraphs ago that statistics can mean anything you want them to mean. The counter-argument, of sorts, would be to say: “Of course JP hasn’t beaten many good teams. The Bills have generally been a poor team. Teams that are poor don’t typically beat teams that are good. That’s what makes them poor to begin with. Plus, it’s not fair to put the onus on the QB alone.”

Fair enough. But, no matter how you slice it…JP has not proven himself to be a consistently strong and winning QB, and he hasn’t helped the Bills take their collective game to a higher level. I like JP (doesn’t everyone?), but the Jacksonville game this past week provided ample evidence of a struggling QB making ill-conceived decisions and a variety of mental (rather than physical) errors. In that way, he appears to be like his Giants counterpart – and fellow draft pick – Eli Manning.

I’d love to run this past a professional statistician or researcher, but the ones I know don’t care about football. Does anyone out there have a more learned perspective on these stats?

For now, it comes down to this: Is benching JP the right move?

I say yes, with more conviction than I felt a few weeks ago. We have an opportunity to learn more about Trent Edwards, and little reason not to pursue that opportunity. Given JP’s multiple failures to improve his game, I believe it’s the right move. True, the Bills’ mixed success isn’t entirely JP’s fault. But, nothing we’ve seen indicates any likelihood his performance will improve meaningfully, or that he’ll raise the entire team’s performance.

On a final note in this record-breaking long column, a word about Redskins safety, and father of a one-year old, Sean Taylor. It’s remarkable that tragedy has touched the Bills twice this year, both directly with Kevin Everett, and now indirectly through the death of a star player on next Sunday’s opponent. Former Bills and current Skins Gregg Williams and Pierson Prioleau are clearly and understandably distraught. This should be quite an emotional game at the outset, and the Bills, perhaps as much as any team, have at least a sense of how the Redskins feel this week.