Even though the Buffalo Bills have gotten more conservative offensively over the past five weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play well enough for his team to win on a weekly basis.
Fitzpatrick, who found rookie wideout David Nelson for the only touchdown in yesterday's 13-6 win over the Cleveland Browns, now has a touchdown pass in 14 consecutive games, and his 21 touchdown passes (in 11 games) this season is the highest total for a Bills quarterback since Drew Bledsoe tossed 24 touchdowns in 2002. The high prior to that? Jim Kelly, who threw 33 touchdowns all the way back in 1991 but never threw for more than 23 from that point forward.
In the first three games after the Bills' Week 6 bye - three-point losses to Baltimore, Kansas City and Chicago - Fitzpatrick averaged 47 passing attempts per game. In the five games since - a stretch including three wins, another three-point loss to Pittsburgh and a blowout loss to Minnesota - that attempts-per-game average has dropped to 30, while the Bills have placed slightly more offensive focus on maintaining better run-pass balance. (The fact that Baltimore and Kansas City each went basically five full quarters skews the numbers a bit, as well.)
As Buffalo's offense has gotten slightly more conservative, Fitzpatrick's numbers have dipped slightly; he has not exceeded 6.3 yards per pass attempt in any of the Bills' last three games, nor has he surpassed 158 passing yards in his last two. With Lee Evans out indefinitely, Buffalo's passing attack is likely to get even more conservative, with Stevie Johnson and David Nelson resembling possession receivers to close the season.