Buffalo Bills: Is Ryan Fitzpatrick The Quarterback Of The Future?
Since the glory days of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, and Andre Reed, the Buffalo Bills have been having a rough time returning to prominence.
They haven't made the playoffs since 1999 and we all remember what happened in the "Music City Miracle." It has been a constant struggle, with many coaches and players coming and going, having little to no success.
At 0-6, the Bills look to be on their way to another last place finish in the AFC East, and could be the owners of the number one pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. If this ends up being so, many people believe they should go after a quarterback to get this franchise back on it's feet.
But, is the quarterback Buffalo needs already under center for them this season?
Ryan Fitzpatrick has jump started a dormant offense that produced little to no points for Head Coach Chan Gailey. He hasn't won a game yet, but the Bills are competing closely with great teams, and they almost beat a great Ravens team in Baltimore their last game and they took New England to the brink a few weeks ago.
In four games since being named the starter in favor of Trent Edwards—who was shipped to Jacksonville a week later—Fitzpatrick has 969 yards passing with 11 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He is completing over 63 percent of his passes and is sporting a 99.1 passer rating, good for fourth in the NFL.
In addition to throwing the ball, Ryan has had success rushing it as well. He ran for 74 yards against the Patriots and has averaged eight yards per carry this season.
The special part about these numbers is that Fitzpatrick doesn't have the most talented receiving corps to throw to. Lee Evans is a solid target and Steve Johnson is emerging as a great possession receiver, but for the most part, the Bills are a young, inexperienced group on offense. And did I mention that they have the youngest offensive line in the NFL?
With the little experience around him, Fitzpatrick has shown his leadership qualities and has turned this offense into a methodical, consistent group. Buffalo has averaged 26 points a game since he has taken over, which is normally good enough to win football games if your defense is doing their job.
Lastly, the talent at the quarterback position for this upcoming draft class is not as great. Jake Locker, Andrew Luck, and Ryan Mallett all have potential to start in this league, but I don't think any of them are going to be worth a top draft pick that Buffalo will most likely have.
Their best bet is to give the reins to Fitzpatrick and let him develop his skills. He has matured substantially from his days in Cincinnati and St. Louis, and I believe he has the skill-set, the mind, and the grittiness to carve up defenses for years to come.
You already have C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson running the ball, so if the Bills can dip into the draft and free agency, they could surround Fitzpatrick with more weapons and make this offense a force to be reckoned with.
Harvard may not be known for producing future Pro Bowlers, but if there is one position on the field I'd want a player who was a former Crimson, it'd be my quarterback.
Phil Lombardo is a Bleacher Report writing intern and a senior journalism/mass communications major at St. Bonaventure University.
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