Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Gailey sees Fitzpatrick as the 2011 starter
By Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills fans have been torn about their desires over winning versus securing the No. 1 draft choice and the chance to grab Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
At 0-8, it looked like the Bills were on their way, but they're a much different team after a few close losses followed by back-to-back victories. The Bills probably won't be on the clock come January. They're not the worst team.
But it might not matter whether they're first in line for Luck -- or any other top quarterback prospect.
In eight games this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,961 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Bills head coach Chan Gailey on Wednesday delivered strong comments about Ryan Fitzpatrick being his quarterback beyond this season.
"Today, there's no way I can envision that," Gailey replied when asked about the possibility Fitzpatrick won't start next year.
To a follow-up question about that vote of confidence, Gailey added, "That would be kind of dumb not to think that, the way the guy's played. He's played extremely well. How would you not think that?"
Gailey's comments came on Fitzpatrick's 28th birthday, but the praise wasn't a gift.
"Hey, I don't give anything away," Gailey said. "Guys earn it. He's earned it."
Fitzpatrick began the season as Trent Edwards' backup. In eight games, Fitzpatrick has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He's on pace to throw 32 touchdown passes, which would be one shy of Jim Kelly's franchise record from 1991.
But as questions became more pointed about the organization's philosophy about the quarterback position, Gailey slammed on the brakes.
"Don't read anything into it," Gailey said. "They guy's played extremely well, and I'm not even thinking about next year. I'm thinking about the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's all I'm thinking about. Y'all are getting way ahead of this thing."
There's no reason the Bills still can't draft a quarterback. In fact, Fitzpatrick's presence might make the idea of drafting another more appropriate. The rookie can come in and learn from a smart veteran without the pressure of stepping in right away as the franchise's savior.
Or the Bills could say they're settled at quarterback and address another area of concern. They have several of those.
Fitzpatrick also tried to keep Gailey's vote of confidence into perspective.
"It's hard for me to even think that far down the line," Fitzpatrick said. "We do have six games left. We've got an opponent this coming week here that's one of the best in the league. Nothing is given. I know that. I need to perform these next few weeks."