Earlier this month, the Buffalo Bills made a bit of news when they signed quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to a one-year deal, effectively putting returning starter Ryan Fitzpatrick on notice. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has payed any attention to the Bills over the last couple of years.
Fitzpatrick has had moments of brilliance during his time as the Bills quarterback, but his bright spots are clouded by his mental errors in key moments of crucial games. His efficiency has improved as he gained more on-field experience, but the mistakes remain an issue and because of this, his hold on the position is far from guaranteed.
Jackson was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2006 draft. He spent five years in Minnesota with a minimal amount of success in his limited appearances as a starter. He moved on to the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, and failed to impress Pete Carroll enough to retain his position as the 2012 season began.
The Bills are heading towards a new identity under first-year head coach Doug Marrone and by letting everyone know that the quarterback position will be up for grabs, he shows he means business. This move lets Fitzpatrick know the job is not his simply due to the large contract he secured the season before last. At the same time, Marrone shows the fan base that he plans to do whatever it takes to make the Bills winners.
This move may just be what was needed for everyone involved. There is still a possibility the Bills add a quarterback in the draft, but if the roster looks like it does now heading into training camp, Fitzpatrick could bust out with his most impressive season to date. Having his position threatened, even if it by a quarterback with Jackson’s history, may be enough of a wake-up call that Fitzpatrick turns the corner.
If he does not make the adjustments, the Bills are going to be in for a long, sad season.