- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are 32 starting quarterback in the NFL, and Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills is ranked in bottom fourth of the league at No. 24. That is the opinion of ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, who is in the process of ranking his top 30 quarterbacks this summer.
Fitzpatrick, 29, was ranked ahead of other quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow of the New York Jets and Matt Moore of the Miami Dolphins. But he still has a long way to go to justify the $59 million contract extension Buffalo gave him last year. It’s also interesting to note that Jaws presumably has Fitzpatrick behind Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has yet to show up in the rankings.
Is Fitzpatrick the next Matt Schaub -- a previously unproven player who developed into a franchise quarterback after getting the big contract? Or is Fitzpatrick closer to Kevin Kolb, who got his money early and who has turned out to be a bust with the Arizona Cardinals? Fitzpatrick will prove he's heading in one direction or the other this season.
Fitzpatrick needs to work on his consistency. He's very streaky and played some of the best, and worst, football of his career last season. At his best, Fitzpatrick out-dueled New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in September. At his worst, he threw four interceptions in Week 17 against the Patriots. A rib injury had something to do with Fitzpatrick losing eight of his final nine starts last season.
This is a big year for Fitzpatrick, with no excuses. This is the best Buffalo team, on paper, that we have seen in a while. But the Bills will only go as far as Fitz takes them.
3dField Yates and Rich Cimini