When the Buffalo Bills signed dynamic quarterback, Vince Young, this off-season many people in the football community thought it was to compete for the starting job. However, head coach Chan Gailey has quickly dismissed those claims and has put all his faith into current starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick, especially since the team just re-signed him to a six-year, $59 million dollar contract extension.
Many Buffalo fans were clamoring for “Fitz” to be benched by the end of last year, as his league leading 24 interceptions in 2011 certainly had its toll on the Bills’ overall performance down the stretch. It is true that his heavy turnover numbers (16 interceptions in his last nine games) did cost the team many chances to put up more points, but that is what you should expect from a true gunslinger quarterback, like Fitzpatrick. He will always try to force the issue downfield, which can be good and bad, but in Buffalo it should be a welcomed transition from Trent “Captain Checkdown” Edwards.
Young was no doubt an amazing free agent acquisition, but the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year was brought in to be an experienced backup, not to lead the offense on a weekly basis. The team is not offensively built around Young, so the quarterback could run into problems setting up outside of the pocket with the Bills’ less then speedy offensive line. There are also a lot of plays and verbiage to learn with a new team, something that could easily confuse a new signal caller. It is not easy to just pencil in a new starting quarterback in a system, and expect the transition to go smoothly.
People also underestimate how mobile Fitzpatrick can be outside of the pocket. In his last two seasons under center, Fitzpatrick has rushed for a respectable 484 yards while averaging 5.04 yards per attempt. He may not have the pure speed and athletic ability that Young possesses, but the Harvard grad has shown that he can certainly extend the play with his legs.
The Buffalo area finally has something to be excited about this football season, well besides testing out their new snow blowers. It is a little concerning that some fans are already calling for a quarterback change, as the season has not even started, but there are always naysayers no matter who is under center. Fitzpatrick is the unquestioned starter for the Bills, so fans will just have to learn to live and die with his gun-slinging mentality. Touchdowns and interceptions aside, it is at least good seeing the Bills’ taking shots downfield that are over 5 yards.