Buffalo Bills: Where’s Ryan Fitzpatrick when you need him?


Buffalo Bills: Where’s Ryan Fitzpatrick when you need him?

As training camp grinds along, it seems like every day a new quarterback is anointed as the best option for the Buffalo Bills. Whether it’s Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor, they seem to be taking it in turns to offer some modicum of hope, before regressing back into the pack.

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In theory, an equal competition for the starting quarterback gig can be a good thing. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the Bills, with no clear cut favorite just highlighting the mediocrity at the position.

In fact, as the Bills terrific trio bumble along, a strange thought has entered my mind: Where is Ryan Fitzpatrick when you need him?!

Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are by this. In some ways, it shows how dire things are looking for the Bills right now, at the most important position on the field.

However, for all his faults, Fitzpatrick would actually represent an upgrade for Buffalo. The amazing John Clayton recently called him the best backup quarterback in the NFL, but I believe he could still do a pretty decent job as a starter.

(Just last season, Fitzpatrick averaged 24 points in 12 games for the Houston Texans, while going 6-6, ironically including a win against Buffalo. Add this production to the Bills defense, and you might be onto something!) 

Sep 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws over Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (99) during the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Heck, it wasn’t that long ago the Bills were signing him to a six year, $59 million extension. While this might have been a bit hasty at the time, it showed the confidence in his potential to become the Bills quarterback of the future.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for Buffalo sports karma to kick in. Actually, it was a grand total of two days. Two!!!

The Bills had started the 2011 season with a 4-2 record, leading to Fitzpatrick’s extension (also helped by his excellent play during the second half of the previous campaign). The next game against the Washington Redskins was expected to be a formality.

And this turned out to be the case, with the Bills winning 23-0. Unfortunately, the game also represented the turning point in the fortunes for the team and, more specifically, their quarterback.

A nasty hit led to Fitzpatrick cracking two ribs, an injury which was downplayed by everyone involved until well after the season finished. However, despite the full extent of the injury not being disclosed at the time, it clearly affected the play of the Harvard graduate.

After the injury, Fitzpatrick and the team went into free-fall, losing seven straight and ruining what had been a promising start to the season. Bills fans were left to wonder what might have been.

Ultimately, the 32-year old’s tenure ended as most things have done for the Bills since 1999 – in disappointment. Fitzpatrick returned in 2012, but after leading the Bills to a 6-10 record, he was released.

Of course, I realise even talking about the 2005 seventh round draft pick at this point is futile (something which I’m sure some people think about my columns in general). However, as my psychiatrist always says, it’s good to share what’s on your mind.

Ultimately, Fitzpatrick wasn’t the future of the position in Buffalo, but I’m sure a lot of people would welcome him back with open arms at this point. More often than not, he was fun to watch in action, and you didn’t even need a Harvard education to work that out.

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