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Stevie Johnson: Ryan Fitzpatrick should have QB competition

By Tim Graham

From the moment Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey realized Trent Edwards wasn't good enough to be a starter and inserted Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the 2010 season, competition ceased to exist at quarterback.

Fitzpatrick had no challengers. The Bills didn't draft any competition for him, and the veterans -- Brian Brohm, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson -- were clearly designated backups.

Bills receiver Stevie Johnson wants that to change.

Johnson claimed he still has faith in Fitzpatrick as the Bills' quarterback moving forward but wants to see him pushed -- just as Johnson wants to be with more receivers signed in the offseason.

"Because competition brings out the best in us," Johnson said in an interview before Doug Marrone was named Bills head coach. "If we went out and got another quarterback, who knows what'll happen? Fitz may still win, or the other guy my win. Let it happen like that.

"I'm a guy that's about competing. Bring whoever you want in and the better man will win. So be it."

Fitzpatrick ranked 18th in passer rating this season. He completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,400 yards and 24 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. But he rarely stretched the field.

ProFootballFocus.com charts every play, and on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, Fitzpatrick's 27.5 completion percentage ranked 32nd out of 33 quarterbacks. His 51 attempts ranked 22nd, 414 yards ranked 28th and five interceptions tied for ninth.

Johnson still is convinced the Bills can win with Fitzpatrick.

"You look at these games, and we're still in it," Johnson said. "If he was a bum, we wouldn't have been in any of these games. I wouldn't have had another season with 1,000 yards or six touchdowns or Scott Chandler with six touchdowns and almost a [club] record.

"He is a good quarterback. We've all seen that. Obviously, they may bring somebody else in. I just hope it leads to competition. I think Fitz is one of those competitors. He may come out with the job again."

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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 | tgraham@buffnews.com


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 | mgaughan@buffnews.com


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 | jskurski@buffnews.com

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