Tonawanda News — ORCHARD PARK — 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 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.