The Buffalo Bills announced Monday afternoon that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the starting QB for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. The swift, decisive move was intended by coach Chan Gailey to provide a “spark” to an already seemingly toothless 0-2 team.
Gailey added, however, that the move is rather permanent, saying that Fitz would be the QB for the indefinite future. Chris Brown, from BuffaloBills.com, confirmed that statement.
Some might say that there is now a QB controversy in Buffalo, but that’s not the whole story.
Now, there has been some sort of a quarterback controversy in Buffalo for just about every season since Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson were pitted against one another, ending in the ludicrous coaching decision by Wade Phillips to start Johnson over Flutie in the Bills’ last playoff appearance (which now seems a very distant, faded memory…) in 1999.
From that time on, the “controversies” started: Flutie/Johnson, Bledsoe/Losman (this was only controversial when Losman was named starter in the offseason and Bledsoe didn’t like it), Losman/Holcomb, Losman/Edwards (sheesh… Losman must have been controversial all by himself!) and most recently Edwards/Fitzpatrick (and even Brian Brohm… I guess.)
There has not been a clear choice at QB (aside from Drew Bledsoe for a couple years) since Jim Kelly left after the 1996 season.
So this offseason, with a whole new team of leaders at One Bills Drive, the thinking was that they would immediately address the QB situation. Every question from every reporter in the early offseason was, “Who is your starting QB going to be?” or, “What are you guys going to do about the quarterback position?” The only answer they got was, “We’re looking at all of our options.”
The Bills must not have liked what they saw in this year’s draft (and/or not thought the 2010 options worth trading up for) and elected to stick with last year’s trio of mediocrity: Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm.
Now, Bills fans had seen plenty from these guys to know that none of them were the answer. So that left us scratching our collective head and wondering if the new guys in charge really had any idea what they were doing when it comes to building a football team. When we assume that they do, it becomes pretty clear that this is a rebuilding year.
In 2010, they were going to go with any or all of the three QBs from last season, and plan to (one can only assume) make their move in the 2011 draft. That particular group of QB prospects has the eye of many experts and scouts, and it has been called a “QB-rich” draft class. So, maybe these guys do know what they are doing?
Once it became apparent that the Bills would not make any significant QB changes in the offseason, it was clear that this was their strategy. The fans may not like it (I’m not really sure that I do…) but it’s definitely a strategy.
Does that mean they are throwing away this season? No way. That’s why they tagged Fitzpatrick this week. And when he does not do well, they may go back to Edwards, or give Brohm his shot. Trent Edwards is still the most physically talented of the group, and that’s why he was initially named the starter. Fitz is a solid backup QB, and will do OK, but he is not a starting NFL QB. Brian Brohm is a tad erratic, and so is a somewhat less reliable option even for a backup QB.
So for now, the Bills will rely on their running game (if they can ever get it going!) and muddle through this year and use their top 5 draft choice in 2011 on that QB prospect that they must have already been coveting before the 2010 draft last April.
At least, we hope so…