Is Ryan Fitzpatrick The Final Answer?

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was great for the first half of 2011, but is he the answer beyond 2012? (Photo: US Presswire)

In 2012 the Buffalo Bills and their fan base are expecting big things. The Bills spent big this offseason bringing in star talent like Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. They drafted talent adding CB Stephen Gilmore and OT Cordy Glenn. There are plenty of reasons for the Bills and their fan base to be excited for the coming 2012 season. In the end though there is still one looming factor that nobody can figure out and that’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the unquestioned leader of this team, our star WR loves him, the fan base loves him, and the coaching staff loves him but being lovable doesn’t win you football games. It could be argued that the Bills got overly aggressive last year when they gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a contract extension. Through the first eight weeks of the season Fitz was magical, he was completing passes at a 67.6% completion percentage, had thrown for 1,739 yards, 14 TD’s, and 7 INT’s. Over the first seven games, Fitzpatrick had only one game under 60% completion and had no games where he threw more INT’s than TD’s.

The final nine games though were a completely different story. Fitzpatrick completion percentage fell by over nine points to 58.2%, he threw for more yards (2,095) but averaged less per attempt (6.1 from 7.7) and his TD to INT ration went from 2:1 (14:7) to 1:1.6 (10:16). So what happened to lead to this huge reversal in Fitzpatrick’s play? Well nobody knows for sure but we do have some theories.

First there is the report that Fitzpatrick suffered from cracked ribs over the 2nd half of the season. This injury went unreported by our coaching staff in order to not expose Fitzpatrick to being targeted by opposing defenses. Anybody who has ever suffered from any kind of rib injury knows how tough it is to simply function, let alone play quarterback. If the injury situation was a serious as we were led to believe it was, then the fact that Fitzpatrick took 14 sacks (six more than over the first seven games) over the final nine games could explain the dramatic dip in the numbers.

Another theory is that it had nothing to do with Fitzpatrick’s talent but yet the talent of those players around him that led to a lot of the downturn. The amount of dropped passes doubled in the final nine games of the season going from eight drops over the first seven games to 19 to finish the season at 27. Could it have been that the lack of quality receiving talent around Ftizpatrick finally caught up with him? Let’s hope not, the Bills did little to improve an already weak WR group outside of resigning Steve Johnson and drafting the speedy TJ Graham.

The final theory is perhaps the most simple and requires the least amount of assumption about what we don’t know. That is that Fitz simply isn’t as good as many of us hoped he could be and has maximized his potential. If this third part is true, then what led to his decline was him coming back to earth and that should give Bills fans plenty of reasons to worry.

This article though is not just intended to scare people about the 2012 season or to lower expectations. In the end everything could be fine and Fitz could show that he is in the end the franchise QB we all want him to be…however if he isn’t here are the top five QB’s to watch for 2012 and what games to watch them in:

1. Matt Barkley-USC (Scouting Report)

When Matt Barkley decided to return to school it was automatically assumed that he would be the #1 QB prospect in the 2012 draft. There are questions that exist about his size and arm strength but when it comes to looking like the prototypical QB on the field no other prospect is close.

Three Games To Watch-

9/22 v. California

10/13 @ Washington

11/3 v. Oregon

2. Tyler Wilson-Arkansas

Wilson is by far the biggest senior competition to Barkley’s reign as the top QB prospect. He has the size, the arm strength, and the classic pocket demeanor of a NFL signal caller. Wilson thought lost his top three WR’s and has only Cobi Hamilton returning. How he reacts to that and if he can overcome that will determine if he can overtake Barkley.

Three Games To Watch-

9/15 v. Alabama

11/10 @ South Carolina

11/23 v. LSU

3. Geno Smith-West Virginia

Geno Smith is the wild card of this group, he has more athleticism than any of the top two prospects but does not have the polish. He is further behind in his development and could take longer to be ready. On the other hand Smith is the ideal fit to Chan Gailey’s spread system that prefers a mobile QB.

Three Games To Watch-

10/6 @ Texas

10/20 v. Kansas State

11/17 v. Oklahoma

4. Landry Jones-Oklahoma

Was considered to be one of the top QB prospects heading into last season but fell off on some with a rocky campaign. Jones is looking to bounce back in a strong way in 2012 and has plenty of talent around him to make that happen. He has some ground to make up but he has the talent to do it.

Three Games To Watch-

10/13 v. Texas

10/27 v. Notre Dame

12/1 @ TCU

5. Mike Glennon-NC State

Glennon may be the least known of the prospects listed above but don’t sleep on his ability or talent. He’s similar to Wilson in that he’s a tall pocket based passer with a big arm. Glennon was the QB for new Buffalo Bills WR TJ Graham last year and may have the least amount of talent at the WR position compared to the other QB’s but he make the most with what he has. He has the “It” factor you look for in a QB.

Three Games To Watch-

9/1 v. Tennessee

10/6 v. Florida State

11/17 v. Clemson

To see whether we think Fitzgerald is the final answer or not, check out our latest mock draft!

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, Buffalo Bills, Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyler Wilson

One Response to “Is Ryan Fitzpatrick The Final Answer?”

  1. Matt Korzelius says:

    Nice article, but paragraph 5. “Fitzgerald”?

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