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November 8, 2012

Fitzpatrick eager to regain swagger


Tonawanda News — 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.”

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