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Ron Jaworski explains rating Fitzpatrick No. 24


By Tim Graham

ESPN analyst and the pride of Lackawanna Ron Jaworski has been counting down his top NFL quarterbacks.

Jaworski is revealing one name every day and is about a week into the 30-part series. So you don't want your favorite team's field general to be named by now.

Alas, Buffalo Bills fans, Ryan Fitzpatrick's number was the latest to come up. Jaworski ranked him No. 24.

At least Fitzpatrick is two spots ahead of Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore. But we haven't heard Mark Sanchez's name yet.

Jaworski explained his decision in depth.

"Like all quarterbacks in the 20s on my list, Fitzpatrick has some strengths and some weaknesses," Jaworski said. "He can be best described as a point guard playing quarterback. He's at his most efficient as a ball distributor, operating predominantly in spread formations. In fact, only two quarterbacks -- Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady -- threw more passes from the shotgun than Fitzpatrick. He coordinated a short, quick passing game that placed a premium on run after catch."

Jaworski pointed to Fitzpatrick's late-game efficiency in the Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders scored a touchdown to take a 35-31 lead late in the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick drove the Bills 80 yards on 14 plays for the game-winning touchdown. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown toss to David Nelson with 18 seconds to play.

"There's no question Fitzpatrick can play at a high level at times, but here's the dose of reality: As I've studied him, I've really struggled with his inconsistent mechanics," Jaworski said. "The result: accuracy issues, too many missed opportunities. The ball was badly underthrown."

Jaworski dissected some film on screen, showing Fitzpatrick not properly planting his back foot. That's a flaw new quarterbacks coach David Lee has been working on with Fitzpatrick.

"Many factors go into consistent, week-to-week quarterback play," Jaworski said. "Mechanics are not talked about enough. Ryan Fitzpatrick is very erratic with both his footwork and throwing motion.

"While there's really a whole lot to like, those problems lead to a ranking of 24 on my quarterback big board."

(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |