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News » QBs Edwards, Beck headed down different paths

QBs Edwards, Beck headed down different paths

QBs Edwards, Beck headed down different paths
TORONTO - They are boom-and-bust quarterbacks forever linked in NFL draft lore.

Duos like Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer.

And if the preseason is any indication, Class of 2007 members Trent Edwards and John Beck may soon be joining that list.

They aren't as high-profile as those other two tandems, but Edwards and Beck share a connection through the Miami Dolphins. Had last year's draft unfolded in just a slightly different fashion, Edwards might be in the same precarious position that Beck now finds himself in.

An NFL source said Thursday that Beck is on the trading block. Beck slipped to fourth on Miami's depth chart following the recent signing of former New York Jets starter Chad Pennington.

As for Edwards, he continued to cement himself as Buffalo's starter during Thursday night's 24-21 win against Pittsburgh in Toronto. Looking much sharper than in his preseason debut last Saturday against Washington, Edwards was 9-of-11 passing for 104 yards and two touchdowns in two series of action. He even showcased some surprising mobility with a 22-yard scrabble.

We'll never know if Edwards would be doing so well if he were in South Florida.

The Dolphins had targeted Beck in the second round last year but were going to snare Edwards at No. 40 if the former wasn't still available. Miami was especially concerned that Beck would be chosen by Philadelphia, which instead picked Kevin Kolb four slots earlier.

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Edwards remembers being disappointed when seeing the Beck selection on television. Edwards lasted for 52 more picks before landing with Buffalo late in the third round.

"I saw John's picture come up on the screen, and he's got a phone to his ear and I don't," Edwards said Monday following a training camp practice in Rochester, N.Y. "It's frustrating in that regard, but I'm a firm believer things happen for a reason. I'm happy in the position I'm in."

Especially considering where things now stand with Beck.

A franchise seeking an answer at quarterback since Dan Marino's retirement in 2000 had already infuriated its fans by selecting wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. rather than Notre Dame's Brady Quinn with the No. 9 overall pick. The logic given by Dolphins brass: A speedster like Ginn wouldn't be available in the second round, while Beck and Quinn were almost equal on Miami's draft board.

The decision isn't the reason why general manager Randy Mueller and head coach Cam Cameron were fired after just one season together. But coming off a 1-15 campaign, it sure didn't help.

Ginn and Beck both failed to impress as rookies. Cameron didn't do Beck any favors by naming him the starter for the team's 10th game at Philadelphia. Beck hadn't taken a snap since the preseason, and it showed. He played poorly in four consecutive losses before being benched.

Miami's new Bill Parcells-led front office was never sold on Beck even after watching him throw what general manager Jeff Ireland estimated as "close to 4,000 passes" with quarterbacks coach David Lee in early spring drills. The Dolphins signed journeyman Josh McCown in free agency and used a 2008 second-round pick on Chad Henne, the team's latest "quarterback of the future." The signing of Pennington last week to a two-year deal sealed Beck's fate.

Beck's defenders will say he is the victim of a coaching/front-office overhaul and became disposable because he was chosen by a prior regime. But Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn't necessarily buy into that argument.

"It's how good the player is," Newsome said. "If the player is a marginal player, the coach and G.M. are going to have a tough time with him. But if he's a great player, don't you think they're in love with him?"

The Bills quickly became enamored with Edwards, naming him their starter ahead of a struggling J.P. Losman just three games into last season.

Neither Edwards (nine overall starts) nor Losman (seven) could spark a unit that ranked 31st in touchdown throws, 30th in passing and 30th in overall points. But the Bills believe there is more upside with Edwards than Losman, who has a 10-21 career record as a starter.

Dick Jauron — who, incidentally, wasn't Buffalo's head coach when Losman was drafted in 2004 — threw his unequivocal support behind Edwards entering the offseason. Edwards responded by diving into the team's workout program, gaining 10 pounds of muscle and a solid understanding of new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert's system.

"He came in with a starter's mindset," Bills wide receiver Lee Evans said. "That's the biggest difference."

Schonert is determined to throw more downfield, which was a major weakness in last year's offense. Schonert is trying to free Evans from constant double-teaming by using him in more pre-snap motion and getting tight end Robert Royal (two scores against the Steelers) more involved in the passing offense. Schonert has installed more four-receiver sets and shotgun formations. He is also expected to give Edwards — a Stanford graduate in political science — increased freedom to audible.

It's now on Edwards to execute and try for more big plays rather than checking down to safer routes. Edwards averaged only 6.1 yards per completion last season, which was tied for 30th among all NFL quarterbacks. But against the Steelers, Edwards opened with a 23-yard completion to Evans and connected again on a 17-yard strike in the second quarter.

"You've got to tell him, 'Play aggressively but play smart,'" said Schonert, who was Edwards' quarterbacks coach in 2007. "That means if you've got a chance downfield and you like it, take it. If not, go through your reads and go to your second or third guy.

"For young guys, sometimes (receivers) look covered but really they're open. It's not like college where you're wide open by eight yards and those types of things. That's what they've got to get used to."

Beck will no longer be given the same chance to grow that he would've had if the Cameron/Mueller administration had remained in place.

If he stays with the Dolphins — Miami coach Tony Sparano has said carrying four quarterbacks is a possibility — Beck would be stuck in a reserve role that won't provide many quality practice snaps. A similar fate awaits Beck in the short term on other NFL teams, most of whom have their starters and backups already set for 2007.

Clearly, the Bills are one of them.

"It's a tough spot to be in when it's a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately' sort of business," Edwards said. "I'm starting to realize that. (Jauron) has even said there's not time to develop a player in this league any more. You've got to be able to play at a high level pretty quickly. Coaches' and players' jobs are on the line.

"You realize that when (the Dolphins) bring in Chad Pennington and all these quarterbacks. You're in a tough spot now when you're competing to make the roster when a year ago you're a pretty high pick for the team."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 15, 2008

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