Posted November 08, 2012 on
AP on Fox
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By JOHN WAWROW AP Sports Writer It was a feel-good story while it lasted: Harvard quarterback gets the Buffalo Bills off to a surprising start and is rewarded with lucrative contract extension.
A year later, Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to only look at his inconsistent production and losing record to understand why the national attention and colorful ''Fitz-Magic'' references have disappeared, replaced instead by questions about his immediate future.
And general manager Buddy Nix didn't need to go public last week in expressing a desire to draft a ''franchise quarterback'' in order to get Fitzpatrick's attention.
''I understand what happens in the NFL. I understand that it's a performance-based business,'' Fitzpatrick said Wednesday, noting the two had a long chat in the GM's office. ''For quarterbacks, you have to win games or else.''
That now becomes the challenge for the eighth-year NFL journeyman and former seventh-round draft pick, who remains upbeat even while appreciating that he's running out of chances to prove himself.
''I'm confident. I know there's a lot of doubt outside,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I'm the guy. I'm the guy that's supposed to turn this thing around. And you know, we've still got eight games to do it.''
The Bills (3-5) and Fitzpatrick find themselves at a crossroad in preparing to play at AFC East rival New England (5-3), where Buffalo's lost 11 straight.
Buffalo finds itself in the familiar position of falling out of the playoff race entirely, and potentially extending its postseason drought to 13 seasons.
As for Fitzpatrick, he's lacked the swagger he possessed in getting the Bills off to a 5-2 start last year. It was a run that included the quarterback rallying the team from double-digit deficits to beat Oakland and New England on consecutive weekends.
Since signing a six-year, $59 million contract extension last October, he's gone 4-13 while throwing 25 touchdowns and 25 interceptions and losing three fumbles.
Not all of the blame falls on him. Injuries have taken a toll. Fitzpatrick showed perseverance in playing with a severe chest injury for much of the final half of last season. It hasn't helped that the burden has been placed on the offense to score in bunches to offset a defense that's allowed an average 31 points over its past 17 games.
And yet, Fitzpatrick is being faulted for a growing string of inefficient outings that have carried over into this year.
His three interceptions against the Jets all led to touchdowns in a 48-28 season-opening loss. And then there was Fitzpatrick's underthrown pass that was picked off at midfield with 1:54 left that set up the decisive touchdown in a 35-34 loss to Tennessee three weeks ago.
Though he's been far more efficient in his past four games (two interceptions and two lost fumbles), the Bills have gone 1-3 and combined for just 65 points.
''I'm not going to sit here and say I've played great by any stretch of the imagination,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I've just got to continue to stick with it. I do think I feel more comfortable.''
Coach Chan Gailey said Fitzpatrick's inconsistencies have mirrored those of his entire team. As for assessing whether Fitzpatrick's long-term future is in question, Gailey said that's something to discuss after the season.
''That's not even right to talk about,'' he said. ''Everybody goes out and does the best they can, and then you evaluate everything when you get to the end of the year.''
Tight end Scott Chandler has no doubt Fitzpatrick has what it takes.
''We're not worried about him. We're behind him 100 percent,'' Chandler said. ''We believe in him. And we believe we're going to turn this thing around, get it going in the right direction and finish this season strong.''
Fitzpatrick is 18-28 in three-plus seasons with the Bills. He took over the starting job three weeks into the 2010 season after Trent Edwards was benched and then cut the following week.
After splitting his first four seasons between St. Louis and Cincinnati, Fitzpatrick understands starting opportunities such as these don't come along often - and many times never for seventh-round draft picks.
This could well be now or never for him.
''For me, it's not like I get a shot at this, and if it doesn't work out I can go somewhere else and do the same thing,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''This is my shot. This is everything that I've worked for. And I know that it's either going to work here or that's going to be it in terms of being able to be the guy.''
NOTES: WR Stevie Johnson (bruised thigh) was held out of practice Wednesday, but said he expects to be ready to play on Sunday. ... CB Leodis McKelvin will start in place of Aaron Williams, who's expected to miss two weeks with a right knee injury. ... Mary Wilson, wife of Bills owner Ralph Wilson, has been selected to receive the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Community Leadership award for her work in founding the Western New York Girls in Sports program in 2004.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has some soul searching to do. The admiration of Bills fans and being glowingly looked upon as the man with the 'Fitz-magic' are nothing but a distant memory. Last year's hot start might as well have happened a hundred years ago. It doesn't matter at all. And when GM Buddy Nix talks about a need to draft a franchise QB, Fitzpatrick...
Buddy Nix is like everyone else in Buffalo; fed up with the team’s quarterback play. The only difference is that Nix is the Bills’ general manager, and his criticism could have an adverse effect on the team.
There are undoubtedly times when a player needs to be called out, reprimanded or otherwise have a fire lit under their keister, but the time probably isn’t 13 months into...
Buffalo Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay has hurt his neck in practice, leaving his status uncertain for this weekend's game at New England.
Coach Chan Gailey provided few details Thursday except to say Kelsay was undergoing tests, and he'd know more on Friday. The 10th-year veteran was escorted off the field by a team trainer shortly after the start of practice.
The Monday after a loss is something resembling the apocalypse around NFL facilities. For the fans, it resembles something similar to the Saturday morning hangover. Even worse is a loss where the fans, players, coaches, owners, corporate sponsors etc. can see the Promised Land known as the playoffs slipping away. Make no mistake about it, this cloud of darkness hung ominously...
After spending the 2010 and 2011 seasons on the Buffalo Bills injured reserve, Stratford, CT native and former UConn Huskies wide receiver Marcus Easley will finally get his chance to play in the NFL.
Easley, who was cut before the season and then signed to the Bills practice squad, was promoted from the practice squad on Tuesday to the Bills 53-man roster.
He was a fourth...
Ryan Fitzpatrick's struggles now date back a full calendar year, and there's no sign of him breaking out of his funk. Going into November 2011, the Bills were 5-2 and seemingly on their way to their first playoff berth since the 1999 season, and the ink was barely dry on Fitzpatrick's six-year, $59 million contract, a personnel decision that now seems absurd. Since...
(Eds: Updates with quotes, details. With AP Photos.) By JOHN WAWROW AP Sports Writer Out of the doghouse and back in the Buffalo Bills' starting lineup, cornerback Leodis McKelvin is determined to prove himself no matter how daunting a challenge it will be to prepare for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
McKelvin can't pick and choose his opponents nor control the...
Buffalo Bills (3-5) at New England Patriots (5-3)
Poor Bills. Last week they had to face the Texans and now they have to face the Patriots. Well, maybe it’s not so bad. While teams struggle as double digit dogs before being double digit dogs, 22-42 ATS since 2002, a situation the Bills lost in last week, it’s the exact opposite for double digit dogs after being double digit dogs...
Three and six. That is what the Buffalo Bills are staring right in the face on Sunday if they can’t pull out a win against the hated New England Patriots.
The team needs a win to save their season and give them a glimmer of hope that this could still be the year that they end their 12 year playoff drought. However, there really isn’t that much confidence that the team can get...
Buffalo Bills play try to knock off the division leading Patriots Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
Bruschi's Breakdown -- Buffalo Bills shouldn't pose threat to New England Patriots - ESPN Boston:...
The New England Patriots host their AFC East Rival Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.
BY NICK ST. DENISThe Buffalo Bills' and New England Patriots' defenses have one major trait in common: a knack for giving up the home run.No team has given up more passing plays of 20 yards or more than the Patriots, who have surrendered 42 completions of that kind. Buffalo is on the other end of the spectrum, having given up more rushing plays of 20 yards or more (13) than...