Losman conspicuous in his late-game absence

By Connor Byrne  |   Monday, August 14, 2006  |  Comments( 9 )

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In the Buffalo Bills' 14-13 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night, 25-year-old quarterback J.P. Losman may have tilted the race between him and Kelly Holcomb for the No. 1 job into his favor. Although the former first-round pick didn't exactly remind anyone of John Elway, he did look far better than Holcomb, who threw a terrible interception that was returned for a touchdown early on.

On the evening, Losman, who played the second quarter all the way until the end of the fourth, completed 15-of-24 passes for 144 yards. He was pulled from the matchup with three minutes to play in the final quarter. However, the decision by head coach Dick Jauron to take the young signal caller from the action was and still is quite questionable.

With the Bills trailing by a point, Jauron installed Kliff Kingsbury, a fourth-string quarterback with virtually no chance to make the team's final roster for opening day. Naturally, Kingsbury failed in his comeback bid and Buffalo lost the game.

Ultimately, pulling Losman out was the wrong move. The third-year man out of Tulane could have gained valuable experience for how to come away victorious late in games. He was only facing the Panthers' reserve defenders, but running a three-minute drill and setting the Bills up for at least the game-winning field goal would have been a major confidence booster.

It's understandable, of course, that Jauron didn't want to risk an injury by leaving Losman in, but if he played most of the night without getting hurt, the odds of it happening in the waning minutes of the game were slim and nil.

Rather than acquiring some late-minute experience, which he didn't get much of last season, Losman will have to rely on his start against the Cincinnati Bengals this Friday to continue developing into a competent quarterback.

Many were somewhat excited over the 6-foot-2, 217-pounder's performance in Charlotte, but the inconsistency of his arm came to the foreground. The California native's accuracy did manage to improve from last season's dismal 49.6 percent rate to just over 60 in the season's first exhibition game. However, bouncing passes to wide open receivers on three separate occasions wasn't acceptable, nor will it ever be.

The moral of the story for Jauron is, when you have an opportunity for a young, capricious QB to gain some confidence by leading his team to a late triumph, do it. It may have only been Week One of the preseason schedule, but Kliff Kingsbury wasn't the answer. J.P. Losman, on the other hand, was.

--Connor J. Byrne can be reached at cbyrne@realfootball365.com.

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