For weeks, folks observing the Buffalo Bills from afar have insisted that new quarterback Tyler Thigpen would have a chance at unseating Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team's starting quarterback in 2011. Locally, we know that isn't the case; this is Fitzpatrick's team. If people with lingering doubts needed any more convincing, Thigpen erased those doubts with a very iffy outing in Saturday night's pre-season opener.
Fitzpatrick was not perfect - his ball placement was off on a couple of throws, and he was not on the same page with David Nelson on one bad miss - but he was highly efficient, leading a scoring drive and completing 7-of-9 passes for 44 yards. Thigpen was not efficient at all. His ball placement was highly erratic when he did have time to throw (to say his pass protection was worse than Fitzpatrick's is to make a severe understatement), and he did not look in sync with his receivers at all. Thigpen completed 1-of-5 passes for five yards.
Thigpen is in Buffalo because of his ties to Chan Gailey and his offensive system. Given more time to acclimate to his new surroundings, Thigpen should be just fine in the event that he's forced to play. The game in Chicago, however, shows just how much ground Fitzpatrick has on his new understudy - particularly in terms of team chemistry, where the difference is night and day - and should quell most of the Thigpen-as-starter rhetoric.