Buffalo Bills: Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the Long Term Answer at Quarterback?

Josh TrueloveCorrespondent IIIAugust 19, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills readies to pass against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills readies to pass against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

It has been a long time since the Buffalo Bills have had a serviceable quarterback.

The last Bills quarterback to be considered a good or even efficient player was Drew Bledsoe. Furthermore, the last signal caller to bring the Bills to the playoffs dates even further back than Bledsoe, it was Doug Flutie.

For all that, though, the Bills' search for a quarterback may have finally ended thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

It is no secret that Buffalo has been in quite a quarterback turmoil for some time, as the Orchard Park faithful have been stuck with some real characters not named Bledsoe and Flutie.

As always sporting that bandanna and chewing gum, there was the man who caused the biggest quarterback controversy in Bills history, Rob Johnson. There was backup Alex Van Pelt (yikes). Notorious journeyman Kelly Holcomb played okay, but had no business as a starting quarterback for Buffalo.

There was then first round pick JP Losman—a lot of people will say was never given a real chance, especially when former head coach Dick Jauron made it pretty obvious that Losman was not in his plans—who overall, never proved he was the right guy for the Bills.

Jauron then drafted former Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards; maybe the most frustrating quarterback in Bills' history. In 2008, Edwards looked like he was the answer for Buffalo. The Bills raced to a 5-1 early season mark, and he was a big reason for it.

Then, something happened. Edwards got banged up a few times, and he became scared to throw. He became obsessed with checking down to the safe routes, which drove Bills fans insane. Nonetheless, he was awarded the starting job in 2009 again and Bills fans had high hopes for Edwards. Of course, until he let them down again, continuously checking the ball down before he was eventually benched that year.

In 2010, Buffalo hired a new head coach, Chan Gailey. Gailey, a good offensive mind, decided to give Edwards a shot in his system. Trent started the first two weeks, again checked down repeatedly, and was on the waiver wire shortly after. In came Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick played well in Week 3 against New England and never looked back. Later on in the season he became the Bills' first quarterback in 59 games to throw for 300 yards during a contest. He threw a touchdown passes in 14 straight games, the most by a Bills' quarterback not named Jim Kelly, in addition to his overall totals of passing for 3000 yards and 23 touchdowns. And for the first time in a long time, the Bills' offense looked...well...exciting.

Fitzpatrick had great chemistry with breakout wide receiver, Steve Johnson, and was the first Bills' quarterback that was fun to watch since Bledsoe.

Fitzpatrick likes to take chances, which leads to some interceptions, but it makes for some exciting football. Fitzpatrick is a very mobile quarterback, he has a decent arm, and has a keen eye for reading defenses. There's no arguing how smart Fitzpatrick is, seeing as how he graduated from Harvard.

The thing about low market teams like the Bills is, not a lot of people outside of western New York truly pay attention to the Bills. So a lot of people look at Buffalo's 4-12 record from last season and think, "wow, they must need a new quarterback."

While in reality, anybody who watched Bills football last year knows that the Bills were so bad because of their putrid run defense. Quarterbacks have forever gotten too much credit and too much blame. That leads people to believe that any team who is good has a great quarterback, and any team that is bad has a bad quarterback.

A lot of NFL and draft "experts" thought Buffalo should have drafted a quarterback with the third overall pick a few months ago. Well, like  the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Fitzpatrick played well enough for Buffalo to not have to worry about the quarterback position for once. The Bills' run defense was the worst in the NFL, so they drafted a big run stuffing defensive linemen in Marcell Dareus. While "experts" may disagree with the move, stopping the run is way more than an issue than quarterback play is.

So the question is: Is Fitzpatrick the long-term solution at quarterback for the Bills?

The truth is, until he proves otherwise, yes. If he improves from last season, then Buffalo is in for a treat. With Fred Jackson being the full time back, breakout WR Johnson getting another year under his belt, and more experience from a talented young wide receiver group, Fitzpatrick is primed to have another good season.

What if he does not improve? What if last season was a fluke?

Well, while it is unlikely, it is possible. If Fitzpatrick does have a down season and Buffalo is even worse than last year, then Andrew Luck is there for the taking. So really, the quarterback situation in Buffalo is a win-win situation.