Is replacing Fitzpatrick the answer in Buffalo?

Warren McCarty
December 15, 2012

Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix continues to talk about the need to find a “Franchise Quarterback” for his team. Every time he talks about this need, he loses credibility in my eyes, for several reasons.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick

US PRESSWIREBills' GM Buddy Nix wants to land a franchise QB, but the club's issues run deeper than Ryan Fitzpatrick.

First and foremost, openly discussing his thoughts on the QB position and the need to find a franchise guy completely undermine Ryan Fitzpatrick’s role as the QB and the Leader of the Offense.  I thought that is what was reflected in the $60 million contract that Nix gave to Fitzpatrick midway through last season. It sends a terrible message to the other 52 guys in the lockerroom and brings unnecessary pressure to an already tough position.

Secondly, it further illustrates my suspicions of Nix in terms of his ability to fully grasp what it takes for a franchise QB to be successful in today’s NFL. Plugging in a stud at the position sounds easy, but it doesn’t equate to success. You must have consistency up front. You must have the ability to effectively run the football to at least keep defenses honest, and you must have playmakers at the receiver and tight end positions. Go down the checklist of all the “elite” and “premiere” QB’s in the league right now, and they have those elements in place. They have what they need to be successful.

Looking at the Buffalo roster that Nix has assembled, I don’t see enough of the key elements in place. The O-Line has been battered, bruised, and wildly inconsistent. They do indeed have two quality backs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but they don’t have dangerous players at the tight end spot and they don’t have dangerous guys opposite of Stevie Johnson at the receiver position either. Defensive Coordinators aren’t losing sleep at night pondering potential mismatches with Buffalo’s #2 receivers and tight ends.

Lastly, I question whether or not Nix is willing to build through the draft with respect to the WR, TE, and O-line positions. They went out and invested heavily in free agency on the defensive side of the ball, and I applaud Nix & Co for doing so. But trying to do so on the offensive side of the ball will only create cap issues and frustration in the near future, not to mention how it negatively affects the depth of the roster.

I’m not at all saying that I think Ryan Fitzpatrick is worthy of being the face of the Bills franchise. But I don’t think that question can truly be answered until all of the pieces of the puzzle are in place surrounding him. Until Nix comes to that realization, the Bills may be stuck in futility.

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