For better or worse, the Buffalo Bills FO is putting all of its chips on Ryan Fitzpatrick. It goes beyond Fitz's generous 7-year $62 million dollar deal. Much of the gamble now rests on the fact that the Bills will have little depth at the QB spot. Fitz not only has to be good, "scary good," he has to stay healthy.
Is it fair to say the Bills have razor-thin depth behind Fitz despite the possibility that they might enter the season with four QBs? It seems like the Bills would be wise to hold onto Tyler Thigpen as the season gets underway, if for no other reason than the fact that he knows Gailey's passing scheme far better than Tarvaris Jackson will on opening day. However, I'm under no illusions that Thigpen's days in Buffalo are numbered.
Whether or not Chan and Nix keep Thigpen for any length of time after preseason, there's little doubt that they're going to eventually wind up with one, yes one quarterback behind Fitz. From four to one seems like a big leap, but let's be clear about something; Brad Smith is absolutely not a legitimate every-down passer in this league. I'm not sure that he's a legitimate passer, period.
Chan is enamored with the idea of a utility man he can use in the wildcat, and Smith is that man. The fact he's officially the third-string QB has more to do with where Chan wants to fit him on the roster than providing authentic depth behind Fitz. Smith has to take up a spot somewhere.
That's all well and good, but it means that once Thigpen finally gets his walking papers (whenever that may be), Tarvaris Jackson will be the only real QB backing up Fitz. Make no mistake, having Jackson as back-up isn't a doom & gloom scenario. Jackson has started at QB in no less than 34 games. Last year, Jackson ended the season with a respectable 60.2% completion percentage and a QB rating of 79.2. You can't feel too bad about a back-up who has those numbers.
Fans might prefer a situation where the second-stringer was a young, up-and-coming talent (like, say, Fitz himself arguably was), but the Bills have decided to go in the opposite direction. As much as some fans might want the next franchise QB to be sitting on the sidelines, the Bills are intent on former starters (Vince Young and then Jackson) rather than starters-in-waiting.
For better or worse, Jackson will essentially be the only real back-up. Buffalo has no long-term solution at QB beyond Fitzpatrick (whose under contract until 2017). Meanwhile, Fitz is in an odd situation. He's a veteran in the first full year of his contract, and the expectations will be higher than at any time in his 7-year career.
Taurus Londono grew up in Buffalo, NY, where he watched the Buffalo Bills go to four consecutive Super Bowls. He is a lifelong fan of the team.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tarvaris Jackson
- Tyler Thigpen
- Ryan Fitzpatrick