Last year, the Buffalo Bills gave quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a six-year deal worth $59 million after a scorching start to the season, including a great month in September that saw him secure the AFC Player of the Month honor. This was a breakout year for him in his third season with Buffalo, because his first two seasons with the team were actually quite poor. He had negative EPA and WPA totals, and he never completed over 60% of his passes in those two seasons.
But in 2011, Fitzpatrick tossed 3,832 yards with a 62% completion percentage, and it looked like he had proven the doubters (like me) that thought he couldn’t possibly be a franchise quarterback.
Although he isn’t playing as well as he did last season, Fitzpatrick has still been solid compared to his previous seasons. The problem is that Fitzpatrick has been as inconsistent as ever and isn’t as good at throwing the deep ball as some will have you think. He tossed 23 interceptions last season and is on pace for 23 more this year.
Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix is not impressed and said, ”Listen, we have said from day one, that we want to draft a good young quarterback. I don’t want to leave here without a franchise guy for the future in place. I have not said that before but I’m saying it now because its fact.”
I don’t think the Bills should draft a quarterback in the 2013 draft, because this is an extremely weak class for QBs. Matt Barkley has limited upside and is not a future franchise QB, Geno Smith is going to end up like a Sam Bradford type QB, and the other notable quarterbacks all have question marks despite elite physical tools. Tyler Wilson is the best QB prospect in this class if he can get things straight, but that’s become a pretty big “if” at this point.
The Bills are best off keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the deal they gave to him was absolutely absurd. They can make the playoffs with him, but that would require assembling an even better supporting cast on offense to help him in addition to better CBs. Their corners are the weakness of the team.
The problem with Fitzpatrick is that he suffers from too many self-inflicted mistakes, because he is far too interception prone and has subpar accuracy. His accuracy isn’t terrible, but it definitely isn’t good either. Fitzpatrick is, overall, an inconsistent quarterback with a gunslinger mentality that often causes his downfall. Just look at the line he put up against the New England Patriots in their first meeting this year. He threw for a lot of yards and really aired it out well against the Pats secondary, but his undoing was four picks and a host of terrible misses to receivers that had their assignments beat.
Nix is being harsh, but he’s also right. However, he cannot afford to overreact and go out and reach for an overrated QB in this class that he doesn’t need. It would be best for the Bills to draft a guy like Wilson, Landry Jones, or even Mike Glennon and try and develop one of them with Fitzpatrick as a stop gap. Or they can just build a better supporting cast and wait for another top QB in a future draft.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.