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Where the Bills turn at QB

For Buffalo, there's a better approach than drafting a quarterback at No. 8

Originally Published: March 13, 2013
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider

The Buffalo Bills had no choice but to cut Ryan Fitzpatrick. They didn't even need a financial reason, really, and they certainly had at least a small one. Not only did Fitzpatrick finish a dismal 27th in QBR in 2012, he also showed clear regression for the second straight year, this time in an age-30 season in which he not only had easily above-average pass protection by any measure, but also had one of the NFL's true free passes to a better traditional passer rating. Without overstating it, giving a quarterback the option of C.J. Spiller in 2012 was like parents giving their college student a credit card that would be paid off monthly with a promise not to check receipts.

And Fitzpatrick charged bail money to the Spiller Visa. Spiller didn't just catch 43 passes for 459 yards, a very good 10.7-yard average gain per catch (Adrian Peterson was at 5.4), he also averaged 11.7 yards covered after the catch, per Pro Football Focus, by far the best for any RB with more than 25 catches. That means even catches made by Spiller behind the line of scrimmage turned into well-above-average production, thus your inflated 17th-highest passer rating. Dump-offs became free money. Sure, many teams pad passing stats and efficiency with constant short passes at the line of scrimmage (New England comes to mind), but even padded-stats Fitzpatrick was a below-average NFL starter.

The only reason to keep him was to project the idea of a "plan" at quarterback, which is a bogus concept anyway. You either have a solution, or you're hoping for one. The Bills don't have a current solution, and as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday morning, there's plenty of presumption Buffalo will take a QB at No. 8 overall in the draft. But they shouldn't, and should instead borrow a method quietly used all over the league.

It's called locking in some assurance and saving some money.

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