Arguably, the trio of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed will be the best tandem of quarterback, running back and wide receiver that the Buffalo Bills will ever have.

Many have high expectations for a new trio of J.P. Losman, Willis McGahee and Lee Evans. Under the direction of quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the latter two well established themselves last season.

McGahee gave spark to a dormant Bills offense last year – easily winning the starting job mid-season after he replaced an injured Travis Henry, he went on to rush for 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns. Despite the knee injury he sustained in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl – a horrendous accident that CBS somehow felt obliged to air during every Bills’ game last year – McGahee’s first season back to football was very encouraging.

Evans, too, had a respectable year, receiving for 800 yards and nine touchdowns.

The only member of this triumvirate who did not prove himself last year was quarterback Losman. Injured and out for much of the first half of the season, he was called in very infrequently to replace Bledsoe.

In the past two games, however, he has shown great maturity and the potential to be a great team leader.

Going on bare statistics, there remains much work to be done. In two games, he only found the end zone once and – considering his pass completion percentage of fifty percent – he has yet to consistently connect with his receivers. Additionally, his red zone efficiency and ability to convert on third down also need to be improved before he can truly establish himself as a starter in the NFL.

For a first-time starter, though, Losman showed a great amount of discipline and mental awareness. For instance, he showed excellent clock management the past two weeks. Instead of calling a timeout when he didn’t like what he saw from the opposing defense, Losman would call audibles to his offense and still get the snap off before the play clock ran out.

Additionally, he showed strong ability to avoid sacks and keep a drive going. In contrast to Bledsoe – who, despite his great arm, was notorious for succumbing to drive-ending sacks – he’s shown the mobility to evade rushing defenders and an ability to scramble away from pressure.

His best show of mental capability, though, was during the last drive of the Tampa Bay game. Midway through the fourth quarter, Coach Mike Mularkey replaced Losman with backup Kelly Holcomb. After Holcomb’s first and only drive resulted in a punt, Losman went back in for the last three minutes of the game. Even though the Bills had no chance of winning, he came off the bench and led an eighty-yard drive that fell short of a touchdown. Although his performance throughout the game wasn’t exactly impressive, the fact that he could be benched and return with a respectable performance shows a certain degree of fortitude that many younger players in this league lack.

If anything, I hope that the character he showed is nascent proof of a resilient, never-say-die personality that has marked the last two decades of Bills football.

On a smaller level, this mentality was also seen in the 2004 Bills team going from 0-4 to playoff contention, the 2000 Bills going from 0-3 to a Wild Card playoff spot, and Don Beebe sprinting over 60 yards in Super Bowl XXVII – even though his team was losing 52-17 – to deny a showboating Leon Lett six points.

Most notably, this attitude was seen in the 35 point comeback win in the 1993 Wild Card game against the Houston Oilers and, most notably, in returning to the Super Bowl in four consecutive years.

Hopefully, flanked by McGahee and Evans, Losman can establish a successful career at Buffalo and lead the Bills their to first Super Bowl victories.

Scott can be reached at tscott@campustimes.org.



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