So, are you sick and tired of reading about Ryan Fitzpatrick? Well, I'm not, and I'm going to keep on plugging "Fitzpatrick week" on Buffalowins.com. I never thought I'd say this for a 2-8 team, but this Sunday's matchup is going to be a statement game. It's a defining moment, especially for the guy from Harvard. Yes, Fitz seems to be the hot button topic this week for Bills fans, as it seems like these are the talking points: (Click "Read More" for the rest of the article)
Pro: Hey! He's got 19 touchdowns on the year and has breathed life into an anemic passing game. Not to mention, he's a great guy, who has a kick ass beard. If it wasn't for Fitz, we wouldn't know how "serious" Stevie Johnson could get. Plus, he's making football fun again. Defense may win championships, but offense sells tickets, and those tickets=entertainment. So he's a 7th round draft pick. Big deal. Tom Brady and Kurt Warner weren't selected on the first day of the draft. So who wouldn't root for a guy like that?
Con: Dude, it's Ryan Fricken Fitzpatrick. A guy from Harvard. A guy who will short arm passes to his wide receivers. A guy who can be as wild as Rick Vaughan in the movie "Major League". Plus, he's beaten two teams who are terrible. More importantly, he's not Tom Brady, he's not Drew Brees and he's not a franchise QB. Don't you remember Derek Anderson? Do I even have to remind you of the QB's that have come across the field at The Ralph, who all showed glimpses of greatness, only to screw us over in the end.
Speaking of Derek Anderson, I got his name because I was over on www.buffalorumblings.com (a great site that should be read daily), and one of their writers had referred to Fitzpatrick as possibly being the next Derek Anderson. A comparison that I found to be very interesting. Anderson came out of no where in 2007 to throw for 29 touchdowns and was rewarded with a nice, fat 3-year contract. Of course, we all know what happened afterwards. Anderson was a disaster and he can barely start in this league. Anyways, I decided to go back and take a closer look at Anderson's 2007 season. Here are some of Anderson's stellar games:
Week 2-Bengals-5 touchdowns-328 yards
Week 3-Raiders-2 touchdowns-248 yards
Week 6-Dolphins-3 touchdowns-245 yards
Week 8-Rams-3 touchdowns-248 yards
Week 10-Steelers-3 touchdowns-123 yards
Week 12-Texans-2 touchdowns-253 yards
Week 13-Cardinals-2 touchdowns-304 yards
Week 14-Jets-2 touchdowns-185 yards
Now there are some similarities between he and Fitzpatrick. For one, both quarterbacks seem to be erratic in the completion percentage department. For having such a nice year, Anderson only completed 56% of his passes (Fitz is at 59%, ranking him 27th in the league). Also, in the games I listed, only the Steelers had a record of above .500. Now, it's ironic how Anderson's best game came against the Bengals and he had success against a top tier defense like the Steelers (ranked 1st that year). It kind of sounds similar to what Fitzpatrick did against Cinncy (again) and the Ravens (Top 7 defense). I think the stat that jumps out at me the most is the completion percentage. That seems to be the main knock on Fitz, as he's completed less than 51% of his passes three times this season. Anderson, for his breakout year, had 9 games where he completed less than 56% of his passes.
Now, it should be noted that the Browns finished that season with a 10-6 record, while the Bills obviously won't come close to that record. The Browns had no choice, but to give Anderson a contract extension because they seemed to be on the verge of breaking out. The Bills aren't on the verge of breaking out and I would say that they have at least 2 years left to do so. So, like I've been maintaining since week 3, the Bills don't need to force the issue with finding a QB, because they have so many other missing pieces. Worst case: They keep Fitz for another season, only if the franchise QB isn't there at their draft slot.
(Anyways, I really didn't mean to get into the whole Anderson vs Fitzpatrick comparison, but I just thought of it. So, lets get back to the defining moment question)
Well, if the vote is 50/50 for Fitz being or not being the guy, I think Sunday's game against Pittsburgh is going to work as the swing vote. These aren't the Bengals, a team who quit midway through the 3rd quarter on Sunday. Fitz isn't going against a Lions team, who have lost like 2000 straight road games. It's Big Ben with his two Super Bowl Rings and the epitome of what the 3-4 defense is suppose to look like.
Win, lose, or draw, I still think Fitzpatrick is the perfect "transition" QB to the next guy. As Chan Gailey put it, he deserves to be the starter going into next year. Now should he be the starter in 2012 and beyond? Well, if he beats the Steelers or plays well against them...man...I think he can be the guy. No Luck, No Mallet, no next Jim Kelly, just stop where you are. I'm battling it, as I'm still trying to figure this out as we go.
All I can say is this, if you are a Fitzpatrick fan or not, this game is going to be a measuring stick for him and the Bills.