Ed. Note: I liked this FanPost, and though it's gotten a good deal of traffic in the FanPost section, I thought it deserved a little front-page love. - BG
This is quarteback Ryan Fitzpatrick's second off-season as the Buffalo Bills' No. 1 option under center. The 2011 season was full of ups and downs for Fitzpatrick. He proved incredibly shrewd with the ball in his hands, he was able to lead game-winning drives, he developed a nice synergy with coach Chan Gailey's offensive game planning, and he avoided sacks. On the flip side, he led the league in interceptions and inexplicably threw a lot of incompletions.
I say inexplicable for two reasons, The first is when looking at the numbers, Fitz was ninth in the NFL for completion percentage with a very respectable 62 percent; the second is that many of his incompletions where in plays where he had time, but his throws still missed an open receiver. If Fitzpatrick hits Stevie Johnson on one of those two throws during the Giants game, for example, things might have played out differently for both teams.
This season, the dynamic should shift in favor of Fitzpatrick's numbers. A better pass rush should slow opposing offenses down, cause more turnovers, and make the secondary look better. All this should mean the Bills won't be down two to three touchdowns before the second half nearly as often, and Fitzpatrick will avoid desperate play that results in interceptions and incompletions. Ryan Fitzpatrick, meet David Lee.
One the quietest acquisitions of the Bills' off-season was the hiring of quarterbacks coach David Lee. Lee is something of a quarterback guru, having helped Chad Pennington reinvent himself and lead the Miami Dolphins to the AFC East title, finishing second in MVP voting.
Reports from OTAs are that Lee studied Fitzpatrick on tape during the off-season and found that in Fitzpatrick's footwork on his incomplete throws, he wasn't opening his left hip enough. Lee is currently installing the new steps into his starting quarterback mechanics, and is hoping Fitzpatrick will be able to commit the change into muscle memory by training camp.
Lee worked extensively with the undrafted Tony Romo in Dallas before his gig in Miami, and Chris Brown, the Buffalo Bills' lead journalist, relayed to WGR 550 radio last week that it took something like 8,000 throws for Romo to commit a mechanics change to muscle memory. However, Brown feels that Fitzpatrick's experience will decrease the learning curve, and that Fitzpatrick already appears ahead of schedule.
Just how good could Fitzpatrick be? 2011 wasn't a great season for Fitzpatrick in the end, but it was certainly the most competent season for a Bills quarterback since Drew Bledsoe's tenure. Many have speculated that the cracked rib Fitzpatrick suffered in the Washington game may have contributed to his decreasing accuracy, and certainly a quick look at his game log bears that out.
There has to be some among us who think that a healthy Fitzpatrick with improved accuracy could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
I'm much more of an armchair quarterback than a football guru, but I still believe that Lee working with Fitzpatrick is a very positive development, though I imagine that for some, whenever they hear "working on mechanics," they have heart palpitations. Where do you stand?