Ryan Fitzpatrick missing the deep ball

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
2:30
PM ET
Arm strength has always been one of Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's biggest weaknesses. Playing in Buffalo in the blistery winter also doesn't help matters.

But Fitzpatrick needs to do a much better job of throwing deep next year if the Bills (6-9) want to be a contender. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Fitzpatrick is connecting on only 27.1 percent (13 of 48) of his passes of 21 yards or more, which is 29th in the NFL. Fitzpatrick has a passer rating of 53.4 and with two touchdowns and three interceptions when throwing deep this season.

Buffalo's offense is built around Fitzpatrick's strengths. So the Bills won't go deep often. Players like Eli Manning (87), Philip Rivers (68) and Joe Flacco (67) have thrown deep a lot more this season.

But Fitzpatrick needs to hit on his deep opportunities when they come. Opponents have been crowding and jamming the receivers a lot more after Buffalo's early success. Most teams do not respect Buffalo's ability to throw deep, especially after speedy Bills receiver Donald Jones (ankle) was put on injured reserve.

Perhaps another deep threat at receiver is something the Bills should pursue in free agency or the NFL draft.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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