Let Fitz be Fitz

We need a whole lot more relaxation in Buffalo sports.

I heard a colleague of mine refuse to give Ryan Fitzpatrick significant credit for Sunday’s win because Fitz bounced some of his incompletions. Now if you read this space Sunday, you’ll note I also criticized Fitz’s first quarter, but I’ve also been conducting some observations in quarterbacking to see if I’m being overly defensive of the Bearded Wonder. Great news: I’m not.

While no one should be calling Fitz the next Steve Young, the nimble No. 14 is far from a lucky gunslinger. His career completion percentage is far from tantalizing — an ugly 58 percent — but when you’re tearing apart a 68 percent completion day that included four touchdowns, you need to put your Freddie Coleman Cliche Bible down for a few minutes and drink some chill swill.

Watch any football game not involving the Bills. Heck, turn on the Fins and Pats tonight. I’ve got a guarantee for you: Tom Brady is going to bounce or airmail a pass. He’ll even — at some point this year — throw a touchdown pass that a receiver has to work for (like Stevie J’s brilliant grab against KC). The difference — besides Brady being the quarterback — is that QB-starved Bills fans will be quick to say Brady “put that ball where only his guy could grab it” while Fitz “needed his receiver to bail him out.”

Look, let’s include hockey to be safe: stop demanding peer performances of Jim Kelly and Dominik Hasek. Fact of the matter is that if you had Kelly, you’d be complaining. Truth is No. 12 only threw for 23 touchdowns or more — Fitz’s 2010 total — four times, and not once before his fourth year as a starter (Fitz was in his third in 2010). Kelly was a career 60 percent completion guy — a figure that would’ve been 19th in the NFL last year. His career TD-INT ratio is around 7:5. Do anything of those numbers matter? Nope.

While “Machine Gun” Kelly is a deserved Wall of Famer, four-time AFC Champion and heck of a “You could see yerself having a beer at a bar with tha guy” fella, let’s not forget that careers aren’t made by statistics, they are made by moments. Fitz is working on that, and while it’s a tremendous leap to consider he’ll ever be anything more than a guy with a cool nickname and a passable amount of moxie, demanding 25-of-25 for 350 and 5 touchdowns a game is ridiculous. As for Hasek, I’m sure you’d love Ryan Miller a lot more if he was caught drunk driving (1995), let up a soft goal to end a playoff run (2000) and ripped a reporter’s shirt off (1997).

Let’s watch some football and let Fitz be Fitz, Freddie be Freddie and Stevie be Stevie, because Jim, Thurman and Andre had their time.

One other thing: remember this?

Kelly was 20 of 34 before this drive. Those numbers don’t matter, either.

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

5 Responses to Let Fitz be Fitz

  1. Statistics are a measure of performance. Ignoring them is foolish. It’s how we know that Tom Brady is a more accurate passer than Ryan Fitzpatrick, because we can’t perfectly remember every play in NFL history. Now, if you want to argue that American football stats are imperfect because it’s a team sport, different offensive systems, etc… fine.

    “Moments”, sigh.

    Here’s a fun exercise: Joe Namath is the quintessential example of your Hasek/Miller point. Name one “moment” he had on the field (besides pointing in the air after Super Bowl III and making a stupid guarantee).

    • Namath is a definitive example of this phenomenon and reinforces my point. If I were an older Jets fan, I’d probably be able to cite examples. Namath was a horrendous quarterback statistically. Tell me why he’s a Hall of Famer. There is no way you could use statistics. It’s about Fame, guarantees and such.

  2. “Fact of the matter is that if you had Kelly, you’d be complaining.”

    Too true. When Jim Kelly was QB, there was a vocal minority of fans who were calling for Frank Reich. Reich may have been the greatest beneficiary in the world of the old “everyone loves the backup QB” theory (although The Comeback was admittedly pretty sweet).