Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick started a majority of the 2010 season for the Buffalo Bills. While he didn’t produce elite numbers, he did put the team in a position to win about half of the games that he played. With limited options on the roster, Fitzpatrick may have the upper hand in the competition to start the 2011 season.
Here are some of the reasons to sit and start Ryan Fitzpatrick for the 2011 season. All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com and NFL.com.
#1. Career Statistics
Prior to the 2010 season, Fitzpatrick had never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a season. Fitzpatrick committed 16 total turnovers in 2008 and 12 in 2009. He also has never thrown for better than a 59.4% completion rate in a year.
While 2010 was a decent season when compared to the rest of Fitzpatrick’s career, he has not proven himself to be a consistent starter in the 5 years that he has been in the NFL.
#2. Completion Percentage
Fitzpatrick threw for 255 completed passes out of 441 attempts. His 2010 completion percentage of 57.8% was among the worst for starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
Thankfully for Buffalo Bills fans, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez only completed 54.8% of his passes in 2010 or Fitzpatrick would have had the worst percentage in the AFC East.
#3. Division Record
Fitzpatrick was only able to produce a single win against AFC East rivals. The Buffalo Bills barely won a 17-14 game in Week 15 against the Miami Dolphins. Without a strong record inside of the AFC East, it will be difficult for the Buffalo Bills to reach the playoffs.
Fitzpatrick threw 15 interceptions and fumbled 4 times during 2010. Despite playing in only 13 games, he had 5 games with multiple interceptions. Fitzpatrick had only 23 passing touchdowns and none on the ground for the year. If the Buffalo Bills are going to win in the AFC East, they need a quarterback who can play without turning the ball over frequently. Fitzpatrick isn’t that quarterback.
#1. Lack of Options
Trent Edwards was cut after 2 weeks. Levi Brown didn’t even make the active roster at the beginning of the year. Brian Brohm had been released from the Green Bay Packers and produced an abysmal game in Week 17. The Buffalo Bills’ best option is Fitzpatrick unless they choose to go with a rookie. At least Fitzpatrick has had playing time in the offensive system and produced a few wins.
Fitzpatrick rushed for 269 yards during 2010. While he isn’t going to outrun most linebackers, he does have some speed. Fitzpatrick can be used on a variety of bootlegs and draws to some effect. Given the state of the Buffalo Bills offensive line, he needs to be able to run.
#3. Position to Win
Fitzpatrick was able to put the team in a position to win against tough opponents. In particular, the Week 7 game against the Baltimore Ravens and the Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers came down to only field goals in overtime.
While Fitzpatrick has been a backup for most of his career, 2010 was his chance to prove that he could be a full-time starter at quarterback. He played relatively well considering the talent around him. But Fitzpatrick also showed the issues that come along with playing him. He isn’t an accurate passer and commits a lot of turnovers for a starter.
I think the Buffalo Bills should start Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for the 2011 season. But he is more of a bridge quarterback or backup than full-time starter. The team needs to consider alternatives that may be available in the draft or free agency.
ESPN.com Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Player Page. February 20th, 2011.
NFL.com Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Career Stats. February 20th, 2011.