Buffalo Bills Release Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick was released on the first day of free agency.

Fitzpatrick was released on the first day of free agency.

The Buffalo Bills are moving in another direction now they have released QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Over the last three seasons he has had steady numbers but didn’t really show too much in the way of leadership when the Bills needed him most. Take week 4 of last year when the 2-1 Bills were hosting the 1-2 Patriots. The Bills outplayed New England for the first 2 1/2 quarters taking a 21-7 lead. All of a sudden the offense goes ice cold as the Patriots scored 35 unanswered points to rip the heart out of the team for the season losing 52-28.

There was a jittery quarterback in the face of playing the toughest team in the AFC East and we didn’t see any leadership displayed. The play calling was abysmal as the Bills kept throwing with a quarterback that wasn’t showing confidence. As a result they kept stopping the clock instead of running CJ Spiller. The 45 point second half was the most points by a team trailing at halftime since 1950. Several times in that second half he threw interceptions that kept a tired defense on the field. He threw 4 interceptions for the game. That ripped the heart out of the team for the rest of the season. This in microcosm was the Fitzpatrick era in Buffalo.



There comes a point where you see all the potential a player can reach and it’s less than what is desired. Fitzpartrick was a capable quarterback, yet one better suited  as a back-up. One not expected to be a team leader or to enter that top tier of quarterbacks ready to lead his team to the Super Bowl. At some point you have to bite the bullet and go after a better quarterback and a new direction. Similar to what fans have been screaming in Dallas about Tony Romo.

Sometime, you have to just bite the bullet. Last year, we watched Peyton Manning  receive his official release from the Colts who drafted Andrew Luck. All Luck did was take a young team to the playoffs. Trust me it helped fashion this move.

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Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

NFL Week 4 AFC East: See You At the Crossroads

The AFC East has a Super Bowl favorite, a Gotham media darling, and a classic underdog who are all vying to be pro football’s best for 2011. Then you have the Miami Dolphins who lost their quarterback Chad Henne to season ending shoulder surgery as of Thursday. Where do the Dolphins go besides a rebuilding year now with their main quarterback out?? Then more important question comes up… Who are the New York Jets?? Are they the team we here at Taylor Blitz Times picked to win Super Bowl XLVI, or are they the .500 ball club emblamatic of their 2-2 record??

Right now there is a team to the northeast, dying to get some payback and deal the Jets possibly a crushing blow to their season in the Patriots. They have treated their first four games like a 7 on 7 passing drill with the league’s #1 ranked offense.  Do you realize this team is averaging 507 yards per game?? The New Orleans Saints are #2 and average nearly 50 yards less per game. YIKES! Is this really the time for a Jets defense, which has given up 34 points in each of the last two games, to take on a Patriots team averaging 33.8?? Tom Brady has passed for 1,539 yards with a league leading 13TDs while leading the second highest scoring team in all of pro football.

Last Sunday the Patriots beat the Raiders 31-19 behind a modest day from Tom Brady (226 yds passing) yet went to the ground game for the first time this season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 75 yards while Stevan Ridley (pictured here) ran for 97 with each scoring once. They kept the ball from the Raiders with 30 carries for 182 yards in the most balanced game of the season. However their defense is still struggling. Campbell lit them up for 344 yards yet a few timely stops by the Patriot defense ultimately derailed the Raiders. In a battle of once beaten teams, the Patriots proved they were the more complete team. Now they set their sights on an old antagonist who upset them in the playoffs in the New York Jets. Think this team hasn’t had that game circled on the calender?? Think again…but let’s check the standings.

Buffalo 3 1 0 .750 2-0-0 1-1-0 1-0-0 3-1-0 133 96 +37 Lost 1
New England 3 1 0 .750 1-0-0 2-1-0 1-1-0 3-1-0 135 98 +37 Won 1
NY Jets 2 2 0 .500 2-0-0 0-2-0 0-0-0 1-2-0 100 95 +5 Lost 2
Miami 0 4 0 .000 0-2-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 0-4-0 69 104 -35 Lost 4

Bills Fred Jackson is among the league's best rushers.

That’s right the Buffalo Bills were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten yet what have we learned?? Well they fear no evil and have gone after their opponents with aplomb not seen since Jim Kelly. When you’re down to a perennial division rival with 3 minutes to go and your first play is a five step, hitch and throw up the sideline for 40 yards, you’re not fearing anybody. Last week the Bills offense was slowed in a 23-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills were up 17-3, in a game where many felt they were due for a letdown after the emotional win over New England. Yet the #1 defense in football slowed the Bills offense down and rookie Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a comeback win. However the Bills are still 4th in scoring with 33.2 points per game. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/buf/2011.htm Fred Jackson is doing his best Thurman Thomas impersonation with 369 yards rushing, 4TDs, and another 13 receptions out of the backfield for 147 yards more. While Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1092 yards 9 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. They now return to the friendly confines of Rich Stadium where they get to take on the back pedalling 1-3 Philadelphia Eagles. Its going to be loud Michael Vick, just warning you.

Which brings us back to the “Boys from Gotham”…who are they?? Well right now they are a .500 football team. The defense is the strength of this team yet has given up 34 points in back to back road losses to the Raiders and the Ravens. Those were bad losses to fellow AFC teams that will have tie breaker affects on playoff seeding at the end of the year. Now they have to take on a revenge minded Patriot team who is averaging nearly 34 points?? Yikes this doesn’t look good and it’s time to face facts. These three early road games were where this team was to establish it’s dominance. If they could have stood tall and stepped on the leaders of the AFC North and the strongest team in the AFC West they would be coming into this game with confidence and seize control of the conference. Then to put the hammer down on the Patriots would have cemented that point home. Once you think about their stealing their opening game against the Cowboys after a sluggish start and this team could be 1-3.

However they are 2-2 and have a chance to right the ship today. If they can ride football’s #8 defense to a victory against the Patriots they will have held serve that they may still be best in the AFC East. http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=2&defensiveStatisticCategory=GAME_STATS&conference=ALL&role=OPP&season=2011&seasonType=REG&d-447263-s=TOTAL_YARDS_GAME_AVG&d-447263-o=1&d-447263-n=1 Right now Mark Sanchez has been given free reign of the offense to be able to audible and throw downfield. He isn’t lighting it up statistically and something needs to be done with Shonn Greene and the running game. We know Center Nick Mangold has been out but the ineptitude of the Jets running game is derailing this team. Do you realize that after 4 games Shonn Greene leads the Jets in rushing with only 157 yards?? In four games?? Pathetic!! His rushing average is a paltry 3.1 yards per carry with Tomlinson averaging 3.0. These have to improve and they may have to get into a groove and give Tomlinson the ball first and supplement with Greene. Something has to be tried or they’ll continue to be undone by an unbalanced offensive attack. Will it happen this week in Foxboro??

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NFL Week 3 AFC East: Sobering Lessons

Welcome to Inside Our NFL’s Monday after a Sunday full of NFL football that was chock full of surprises. In the AFC East we learned this entire division is going to be good, but what about Miami?? The Dolphins traveled to Cleveland in search of their first win and played the Browns to a standstill and had a 16-10 lead late in the 4th quarter. Chad Henne had his best game of the young season. In the first half alone he completed 15 of 19 passes for over 190 yards, yet only completed 4 passes in the second half and finished with 255 yards. Colt McCoy drove the Browns to a late score with a touchdown pass to Mohamad Massaquoi with :43 in the game. The Browns moved to 2-1 while the Dolphins are scratching their heads after a numbing loss, dropping to 0-3.

This Reggie Bush fumble turned the tide.

Their missing a belief in themselves and should have finished off a Browns team without Peyton Hillis. First off where is Brandon Marshall?? Second Reggie Bush is a space player, he can’t run between the tackles. He didn’t at USC and he didn’t in New Orleans. It was this fumble when the Dolphins had Bush running out of the I formation, that turned the game around when the Dolphins had a 7-0 lead and had momentum. Get Brandon Marshall the ball 15 times a game and you’ll start winning. He had 4 catches for 43 yards?? Nowhere near enough. Denver used to get him the football 100 times a season so what gives??  Their position in the standings…lets take a look

Buffalo 3 0 0 1.000 2-0-0 1-0-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 113 73 +40 Won 3
New England 2 1 0 .667 1-0-0 1-1-0 1-1-0 2-1-0 104 79 +25 Lost 1
NY Jets 2 1 0 .667 2-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1-1-0 83 61 +22 Lost 1
Miami 0 3 0 .000 0-2-0 0-1-0 0-1-0 0-3-0 53 78 -25 Lost 3

Elsewhere in the division the New York Jets traveled to play the Oakland Raiders and the second leading rusher in the NFL in Darren McFadden. The gameplan was to stop McFadden with their NFL’s 8th best defense coming into this matchup. Each game Rex Ryan’s boys start slow offensively and rely on the defense to keep control of the game. Well it’s a good thing they didn’t in this one. After the Jets moved to a 17-7 lead, the Raiders didn’t abandon the running game and were rewarded. In a surprising show of force, the Raiders ran the football down the Jets throats as McFadden exploded for 171 yards and 2TDs. McFadden ended the game as the NFL’s leading rusher. The Raiders made the Jets look slow as they showcased speed on reverses, special team plays, chasing down Tomlinson from behind after a 71 yard gain. Rex Ryan’s boys will be fine as long as they play a slow plodding game. Yet other teams are showing that they do have some speed within the division.

Where you may ask? Try Buffalo where the NFL and the New England Patriots were introduced to a team that is playing without fear. They lined up against their longtime division nemesis and promptly fell behind 21-0. This is where a team that doesn’t have a team wide belief in themselves comes apart and gets routed. Ryan Fitzpatrick calmly led the Bills back into the football game and by halftime had the score reduced to 21-17.

Tom Brady set the NFL record for most passing yards over a 3 game period as expected with 1,258. However the Bills defense picked him off 4 times yesterday, equal to his interception total for all of 2010. One of those interceptions brought the Bills all the way back to take a 31-24 lead early in the 4th quarter. What did the Bills learn about themselves?? They proved they can beat anybody playing their game.

After allowing a Tom Brady 4th down pass to tie the game at 31. Fitzpatrick on the first play hits a 5 step hitch and throw for 40 yards up the sideline over a back pedalling CB Devin McCourty. A screen pass to Jackson netted another fifteen. Then splitting into a 5 receiver look, the Bills ran Jackson on a crossing route and Fitzpatrick hit him in stride taking it more than 30 yards down to the one.  You read that right, with just over 3:00 to go instead of conservative passes this team was throwing with gusto starting with a bomb. Three plays they were down to the 1 yard line after gaining 80 yards. They are 3-0 after downing the ball and kicking the winning field goal, 34-31 and the entire NFL took notice. This team is fast and it’s fearless. They don’t know how good they can be and after breaking a 15 game losing streak to a long time nemesis, the sky is the limit. For if most pundits have the Patriots picked to make it to Super Bowl XLVI, what does that say about how good this Bills team can be now that the Patriots have been vanquished?? We will all be watching these interesting developments.

NFL Week 2 AFC East: In the Land of the Giants

The New England Patriots and the New York Jets are the NFL’s version of the Hatfield and the McCoys. Last year they had the best race of any two teams in football. The 45-3 Monday Night massacre gave the Patriots the division, yet the Jets came back a month later to knock them off of their perch in the playoffs. Even here at the Taylor Blitz Times, we have these two picked to face off in the AFC Championship Game in the new Meadowlands. True to form they have come out of the blocks strong with twin 2-0 records and each have looked as advertised.

However no one figured that Buffalo’s land of misfit toys would come together with an esprit du corps that has them believing they are worthy of primetime status with their 2-0 record. Misfit toys?? Yes! Who wanted Shawne Merriman after his steroid suspension and subsequent knee injury?? How about Fred Jackson who leads the NFL in rushing after two weeks with 229 yards?? Buffalo draftedRB CJ Spiller to be the breakaway runner the team has lacked since Thurman Thomas just last year to replace Jackson. Who was going to catch passes now that Lee Evans is gone?? Stevie Johnson has more than taken over for Evans, he’s outperforming what was projected of Evans had he stayed. Then you have quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Ivy League guy. He doesn’t pass the eyeball test for an NFL quarterback when you look at his stature, and with that name you’d associate that with your local accountant. You know he doesn’t have a quarterback name like Luckman, Unitas, Aikman, Staubach, or a Tarkenton. Fitzpatrick?? Yes Fitzpatrick. The ultimate “misfit toy” has thrown for 472 yards, 7 touchdowns with only 1 interception. Better get used to the name…we have but first lets look at the standings

New England 2 0 0 1.000 1-0-0 1-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 73 45 +28 Won 2
NY Jets 2 0 0 1.000 2-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 59 27 +32 Won 2
Buffalo 2 0 0 1.000 1-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 2-0-0 79 42 +37 Won 2
Miami 0 2 0 .000 0-2-0 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 37 61 -24 Lost 2

The Buffalo Bills are averaging 39.5 points per game, which is higher than the 2007 New England team that scored 589 points for the all time record with 36.8 point average. Ironically Tom Brady and the Patriots are averaging 36.5 points per game themselves as they work Ochocinco into the mix. Do you realize that Brady has thrown for 940 yards 7 TDs and only 1 interception?? He’s on pace to throw for 7,520 yards and 56 TDs. Of course we jest but these numbers don’t make you scoff because he owns the record with 50 TDs in a season. Yet had we said that for Fitzpatrick, who has equaled him in touchdowns to this point, the notion would be received differently. Right now the Patriots have shuttled in Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead for a combined 185 yards rushing to keep defenses honest. Wes Welker (15 rec. 241 yds) and Deion Branch (15 rec. 222yds) are on torrid paces along with their championship caliber quarterback. Each would finish with 1,700 yard seasons which has never been done before by teammates. So Buffalo and New England are #1 and #2 in scoring so far this season.

Yet with all that scoring must come a foil. The New York Jets are the team that is playing the tortoise to New England and Buffalo’s hare and come in having given up the second fewest points in the NFL yielding just 27. They come in with the league’s #8 defense after two weeks and are a slow methodical team. http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=2&defensiveStatisticCategory=GAME_STATS&conference=ALL&role=OPP&season=2011&seasonType=REG&d-447263-s=TOTAL_YARDS_GAME_AVG&d-447263-o=1&d-447263-n=1 Mark Sanchez’s statistics aren’t up with his division rivals with 4TDs and 3 interceptions but two of those came in a meaningless 32-3 win over Jacksonville. However this team has to stop relying on the defense to hold everyone down until the offense can find a way into the game. Surprisingly Shonn Greene has only 71 yards rushing so far. However this is their recipe for winning. Its the 11 tackles by Bart Scott, 9 by David “Hitman” Harris, and 9 by S Eric Smith that is forcing punts. Once opponents pass into the secondary Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie  are waiting where they have 1 and 2 interceptions respectively. So yes they too are 2-0.

The first thing that jumps out at us about the Miami Dolphins is the top 3 tacklers from this team are all in the secondary. They have to run the football better and keep teams off the field. Everyone is dissecting that 517 yard performance that Brady put on them in week 1. Its a good thing that we are in the digital age or that film would definitely snap from overuse. Although this team’s stats were distorted by the Patriot game. They held a potent Houston team to just 23 points in their second loss of the season. They need a strong running presence, Henne can’t do it on his arm yet. The Dolphins will win some games this year they just ran into two strong teams in the first few weeks. However they need to work on being dead last in defense. Go to the running game.

Well one of these 2-0 teams has to lose when the Patriots travel to Orchard Park this Sunday. Its at this point our CEO (Buffalo fan) comes in the room and plays a disc of Dick Vermeil describing his ’99 Rams. “When you get a group of talented athletes without a distorted ego and they really start believing. You have something special.” To us, it did resonate and made us think long and hard about this Buffalo team. They are literally coming from out of nowhere and much like that ’99 Ram team had to learn how to win on the fly. Their most important game?? When they were 3-0, they had to take on the San Francisco 49ers who were the dominant team in the division, and had beaten them 17 straight times.  Once they won there the sky was the limit. Buffalo has lost 15 straight to New England. Its going to be loud in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Don’t forget the Patriots did give up 24 points to the Dolphins on their last road trip and do not miss this fact: The Patriots are ranked 31st in defense and the Bills are coming into this game with the NFL’s #1 rushing attack with 189 yards per game. Food for thought.

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