I know this article may seem a little untimely but I needed to get this off my chest and hopefully some Rumblers out there will 'feel me' and leave your comments. I feel the need to gauge our opinions on the extension itself and what it means for our future at the position. And like an annoying scab the NFL's favorite catch phrase 'FRANCHISE QB' continues to linger within Buffalo Bills Nation. I leave you fellow Rumblers with 4 questions.....
In late October after a tough loss to NY in the New Meadowlands our Bills traveled back to Buffalo and the fans were optimistic even after the loss. The Bills had put on a good showing against the eventual SB Champs and leading the way in that optimism was our QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills were 4-2 and heading into the bye week. On 10-28 before the 'Toronto game' I read this, http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7160727/ryan-fitzpatrick-buffalo-bills-agrees-new-contract. In the middle of the article was a quote that kind of shocked me.
"I'm excited about Ryan getting this done. He'll be our quarterback for a long time," general manager Buddy Nix said, who said the key to any team's success depends on having a quarterback in place. "It really makes everything easier for us. It's easy to put good players around him if you've got that position that you feel good about. And we do."
Nix had initially hoped to conduct contract talks with Fitzpatrick this offseason, but was delayed as a result of the lockout.
At that moment (and maybe I'm the only Bills fan to think this at the time) I immediately thought 'wtf...why did we not just wait!???!!??' Call me crazy but I view Fitzpatrick as an overachiever. A guy who has had to work hard because he is an Ivy League QB who many NFL scouts would dismiss from the start. He isn't overly athletic (more of an athlete than he gets credit for) and doesn't have a rocket arm. Doesn't have the prototypical 'franchise QB' (there's that term again) size. By all accounts he is what he is. A backup QB who got a chance to start and made the most of it in Cincinnati when Carson Palmerwent down. He parlayed his decent showing into a chance to backup Trent Edwardsand when the wheels fell off of that experiement again Fitzpatrick answered the bell, sort of. He is 17-31-1 all-time as a starter. Hardly a record to make you feel safe and cozy at night as a Bills fan. Part of his effectiveness and what I think endears us to him is his scrappy work ethic. That he makes good with what he has. Takes some risks sure but at least he takes them (see: Capt. Checkdown). He is a hard worker who tries to lead by example. I think Bills fans appreciate those traits.
Do not get me wrong here, this isn't a bash Fitz article by any means but I'm upset. Why didn't we just wait it out? If Nix truly wanted to get a deal done before the season started why even bother when he was in the midst of a great run. How would throwing him more money than he's ever had at one time in the middle of the season going to help his progression? Wouldn't it make more sense to 'ride the wave' and see just how far he could have taken us last year? What had he proved to that point other than he can grow one hell of a beard? Why not take the sample size of 16 games and then judge his total performance? As you can see I had so many questions and emotions over this in a span of minutes.
As the season unfolded we all know what happened. I want this to be clear before you all comment. I DO NOT THINK Ryan's mid-season swoon was because of the extension directly. I think he is a professional who would have come to work regardless and done his job to the best of his abilities. I just feel nothing was broken going into that bye week in respects to Fitz' play. It wasn't an extension that needed to get done at that time. I ask in closing....
1. By giving Fitzpatrick a 6/yr $56M ($24M guaranteed) extension, how long are we now committed to him?
2. If Fitzpatrick struggles to start the season, do you feel his starting job is 'untouchable' due to the contract?
3. Looking back now and seeing how the 2011 season unfolded, how do you feel about the extension today?
4. At 29 years old (30 by week 12) when is the proper time to draft/trade for his successor?
While it's all nice n' dandy that Nix & the Bills have a love for Fitzpatrick the contract is a two-edged sword. One side is that Fitz is everything the Bills envision and leads us (or at least doesn't hurt our chances) back to the playoffs. His upside is limited but he has proven he can be serviceable. The other side is much uglier as the Bills do not have another QB option for years to come should the Fitzpatrick deal go sour. It's been a long time since Bills fans went to bed at night knowing their QB situation was not only handled, but that you had the right guy. Sometimes I wonder what it feels like (just for QB purposes) to be a Colts fan. Or maybe a Panthers fan. Knowing you've got 'your guy' for the next decade or so. How spoiled have Steelers, Saints, Giants and Patriots fans been in most recent years? Shoot....I remember a time when we didn't have a worry either. Well, unfortunately Jim Kelly ain't comin' back anytime soon. Thoughts?