Bills vs. Patriots: Can Ryan Fitzpatrick Lead Buffalo into the Future?
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Halloween isn't for another 32 days, but the Buffalo Bills have gotten an early start on trick-or-treating.
As in, trick-treat-treat-trick. That is how the first four weeks have gone for the Bills.
At this point, we have learned nothing about the Bills besides the fact that they are just as likely to impose their dominance as they are to bend to the will of their opponent.
They looked to be doing the former to start the game, before the second half gave way to the latter.
Even as the Bills finally picked up a 14-point lead, you never got the sense that the Bills were gearing up to blow out the Patriots. Both teams had their share of miscues, but Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pair of interceptions in the first half followed by two more in the second half.
Fitzpatrick said after the game (via BuffaloBills.com):
I think if you look at turnovers obviously, we had the few late there that really made it lopsided. We turned the ball over a few times in the first half, our defense was able to come up with stops. They kept us in it in the first half. For us to come out and have that type of lead, we have to be able to just continue to put the pressure on them. And it was the other way around. They scored a few times and put the pressure on us. I think we were pressing a little bit. It just did not stop from there.
Fitzpatrick is one to talk. He has been the one putting pressure on this team with his own version of trick-or-treating for the past three seasons.
Here are some stat nuggets that reveal Fitzpatrick's two-faced tendencies:
- In games where he has thrown at least 10 passes, Fitzpatrick has a passer rating of 58 or lower in 15 career games, and of 92 or higher in 16 games.
- Fitzpatrick has thrown two or more interceptions in a game as many times as he has thrown no interceptions—20 apiece.
- Only twice since the beginning of the 2009 season has Fitzpatrick gone longer than three games without throwing multiple interceptions—for five games in 2009 and for four games in 2010.
Can the Bills count on a quarterback like that to lead them into the future?
That's up to them. While they've done a great job of managing the game and utilizing Fitzpatrick in as low-risk a manner as possible (Fitzpatrick had the lowest percentage of passes deeper than 15 yards through three games), it may not be possible to continue on this way if he can't find any level of consistency.
Judging by his career to this point, it's hard to say with any level of certainty that the consistency will ever come.
Sure, part of it had to do with a Patriots defensive line that got an unusual amount of pressure on Fitzpatrick. The Bills hadn't given up an actual sack of Fitzpatrick through three games and the Patriots got three of them today to go with four hits on the Bills' quarterback.
Can Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the Bills into the future?
Those are situations that Fitzpatrick will have to deal with as a quarterback in the NFL if the Bills are ever going to climb out of the basement of the AFC East.
The Bills have shown the ability at times to climb out of that hole, but have seemed all too willing to remain the Dobby of the division in their two AFC East matchups thus far this season.
A lot of that, too, falls on Fitzpatrick, who has thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions at seven apiece in his games against the Patriots and the Jets.
The moral of the story: if you need a uniform idea for Halloween, you can't go wrong to get a red beard and a Bills uniform. But you're probably just as likely to induce horrific screams as high fives.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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