- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
2011 stats: 3,832 yards, 24 TDs, 23 INTs, 79.1 passer rating
What he must prove: Fitzpatrick must prove that he is a franchise quarterback. The Bills certainly are paying him like one. Fitzpatrick received a $59 million contract extension during the 2011 season. But he struggled down the stretch, got injured and lost eight of his last nine starts. He has a reputation of being streaky, and things went downhill fast for "Fitz." The big contract brings big expectations. Fitzpatrick can no longer lean on being the cute story from Harvard, who made it in the NFL as a seventh-round pick. The time is now to produce.
Walker's 2o12 outlook: I covered a lot of Bills games last season and saw the best of Fitzpatrick and the worst of Fitzpatrick. At his best, he can beat anyone. Fitzpatrick and the Bills were the only AFC East team to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last season. At his worst, one interception can snowball into three or four, and you want to pull him from the game. But I think better health will certainly help Fitzpatrick. I don't know if he will ever lose the streakiness. But as long as Fitzpatrick has more good games than bad next season, the Bills should be in position to compete for second place in the AFC East.