28. October 2010 15:24
Usually when a team has lost every game on its schedule, media and fans alike spend most of the time criticizing what the team needs. The Buffalo Bills have spent the last 13 years trying to replace Jim Kelly, who led the Bills to 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Names like Alex Van Pelt, Rob Johnson, Todd Collins, Billy Joe Hobert, Doug Flutie, J.P. Losman, Drew Bledsoe, Trent Edwards and Kelly Holcomb have all started for the Bills since the glory days of Jim Kelly.
The Bills have used two high draft picks to select quarterbacks in the last few years, selecting Trent Edwards out of Stanford in the third round of the 2007 draft. Edwards was run of town this season after a couple of mediocre games. J.P. Losman was selected 22nd overall in 2004 from Tulane, where he threw 60 touchdown passes, with 52 of those coming in his last 2 years of college. Despite early success, including a decent 2006 season where Losman threw 19 touchdowns and led the Bills to a 7-9 record, he fell out of favor and played out his contract in 2008.
After watching the last couple Bills games, I have been very impressed with the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the undrafted free agent from Harvard. He has shown more than the Bills have seen at that position in several years. Is he the second coming of Jim Kelly? Probably not. However, he has shown intelligence, leadership and the ability to run the offense smoothly and effectively. He has found a new main target this season in Steve Johnson. With the emergence of Johnson, the two headed running attack of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, and the stellar play of Fitzpatrick, the Bills have reason to believe in the offense for the first time in a long time.
Fitzpatrick, who made headlines coming out of Harvard for finishing the NFL Wonderlic test in nine minutes scoring a 48 out of a possible 50 points, was drafted in the 7th round by the St. Louis Rams in 2005. In his first game as a rookie, Fitzpatrick came into the game in the second quarter and led the Rams to an overtime victory over the Houston Texans, throwing for 310 yards and 3 TDs. Since then, he played a few games for the Cincinnati Bengals when Carson Palmer got hurt in 2008.
If the Bills start to win a few games, it will be interesting to see if Fitzpatrick continues to be aggressive with the football. That is the very thing that will keep good defenses, including the Baltimore Ravens last week, on their heels.