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Which Ryan Fitzpatrick will the Bills get in 2012?
Ryan Fitzpatrick: B
Tarvaris Jackson: C+
Brad Smith: C-
Tyler Thigpen: F
I struggled to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a "B" grade as an NFL quarterback. Is he really an above-average quarterback in the NFL? Personally, I'm not so sure.
I decided that using statistics from the 2011 season would be the best indicator in terms of where certain players belonged, and the stats backed up Fitzpatrick as a solid quarterback in 2011. Here is a run down of the stats and where Fitzpatrick ranked in each category:
Yards: 3,832 (11th)
Completion Percentage: 62 percent (9th)
Touchdowns: 24 (10th)
QB Rating: 72.1 (22nd)
Interceptions: 23 (1st)
Credit: NFL.com stats
The Bills are coming off a disappointing 6-10 campaign after starting the season 5-2. The season changed for the Bills while collecting their fifth win of the season against the Washington Redskins.
During the game, Fitzpatrick took a shot from London Fletcher that resulted in a rib injury for the Bills' signal-caller. After that hit, Fitzpatrick didn't play consistently for the rest of the year.
After the Redskins game, Fitzpatrick's touchdown-to-interception ratio was 2:1. He had thrown for 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions in that span of time. However, the injury took its toll on Fitzpatrick. He finished the season throwing only 10 more touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Fitzpatrick's quarterback ranking after the Redskins game was 98.4. After suffering the cracked ribs, his average plummeted to 65.2.
It truly was a tale of two seasons for Fitzpatrick, but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and focus more on his early season numbers.
As for the other quarterbacks, the Bills have a quality backup in Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson is coming off of a 2011 campaign where he started 14 games for the Seattle Seahawks. Jackson's stats aren't overly impressive, but it should be stated that he took the second-most sacks in the league last season.
Part of his was due to the Seahawks offense and their offensive line. Jackson also tried to do too much at times. That said, Jackson threw the ball for over 3,000 yards, and his starting experience from a season ago benefits the Bills greatly.
It's safe to say that everyone knows Brad Smith isn't a true quarterback. He is simply the Bills' Wildcat quarterback. In his first year with the Bills, he didn't make much of an impact with the Bills.
This year, the Bills say that Smith will have bigger impact with the team, according to Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com. I'm not so sure that the Wildcat is still effective in 2012, but I'll give Smith and the Bills the benefit of the doubt.
Tyler Thigpen shouldn't have made the 53-man roster, but lady luck was apparently on his side. In Vince Young's third preseason game, he seemed to have the backup job locked up. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off, and the Bills felt that Young was not a good fit in Buffalo if Fitzpatrick were to go down to injury.
This led to the Bills trading a late pick to the Seahawks for Jackson. Until Jackson has a grasp of the playbook, Thigpen will remain with the Bills.
Overall, the Bills are far from elite at the quarterback position, but if Fitzpatrick's play resembles his start to the 2011 season, then the team is in very good hands.