Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Is Fitzpatrick the next Schaub or Kolb?
By James Walker
What is up with Ryan Fitzpatrick?
The Buffalo Bills' quarterback began the year hot and was an early MVP candidate after the team's 3-0 start. But lately Fitzpatrick has faltered, throwing just two touchdowns and five interceptions the past two weeks. The Bills (5-4) have followed suit, losing four of their last six games.
This week we check in with our resident scout -- Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. -- to get his take on Fitzpatrick's struggles and his prospects for the future.
Matt, what's gone wrong with Fitzpatrick these last couple of games?
Williamson: This is just how he is. He takes a lot of chances and he throws a lot of passes compared to other throwing quarterbacks of his talent level. It's different if you're Aaron Rodgers and you throw a ton of passes, or Tom Brady or an elite player. But Fitzpatrick is not all that physically gifted. And if you put the ball in the air that much and risk tough throws, you're going to pay for it sometimes. It seems like when Firzpatrick does, it comes in bunches. It must get in his head, because it's been like that since he's been a Bill. He will put four or five great games together and then three bad ones. It's not like he's streaky series to series. It's in stretches of games.
Have teams defended Fitzpatrick and the Bills' offense differently?
Williamson: Sort of. I think the Cowboys and Jets are two really good defenses, first of all. Then, they're able to play a lot of man coverage. Looking at the Bills' receivers, I don't think they're all that dynamic. They're not helping Fitzpatrick's cause at all. Terence Newman, Darrelle Revis, all those guys are very good man corners who are playing well. Steve Johnson got away from Revis on a play or two, but still he was more or less a non-factor in that game. I think it's just a talent situation. The Bills are getting to the point where their talent level is starting to show itself. There's a lot of tape on these guys. They were scheming people up early in the season and you can't get away with that as much.
The Bills recently made Fitzpatrick the face of the franchise and gave him a $59 million contract extension. It's early. But what is your gut feeling: Is Fitzpatrick more Matt Schaub or Kevin Kolb?
Williamson: I would lean more towards Kolb. And I'm not totally ready to flush Kolb down the toilet, either. But I understand why the Bills would sign Fitzpatrick. Things are going well. You don't want to completely kill all the momentum of the franchise. He's not a bad player. He's really smart. But in the end, I don't think Fitzpatrick is going to get the Bills where they want to be. He's going to have strings of bad games, and I don't think he can elevate those around him like a big-time quarterback. It still might work out. I think you can keep Fitzpatrick signed and eventually use a second-round pick on a guy with more physical ability. You can bring the draft pick along slowly while you still have Fitzpatrick in the fold.