Last season, the Buffalo Bills lost eight straight games to start the season before finishing 4-4 down the stretch. Now the question becomes whether any of that momentum can carry over into 2011.
If the Bills are going to keep the turnaround going, it will have to come on the arm of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He threw for exactly 3,000 yards last year with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. In a division that features Super Bowl contenders in the New England Patriots and New York Jets, Fitzpatrick says the goal is to win the AFC East.
Ryan Fitzpatrick joined The Fan 590 in Toronto with Joey Vendetta to discuss the Bills’ turnaround, the mindset of playing in one of the toughest divisions, drug testing in the NFL, the pressure of being asked to put the team on his back and how the NFL is dealing with head injuries.
What will the difference be this year for the Bills when it comes to winning close games?:
“I think experience helps a lot and going through the situations like we did last year. We were such a young team. We had a lot of rookies and first- and second-year guys on the field. I think just going through that experience and just staying with it, staying the course last year, even though we started as bad as we did … we’re a year older and I know we’re going to be a year better on the field.”
What is your mindset going into another season in perhaps the toughest division in football?:
“It is a tough division, maybe the toughest in football. … The thing is, we know that if we compete and beat those teams in our division, we’re going to be in the playoffs. So for us, it’s about winning our division. The only way you can do that is go head to head with those teams and beat them and that’s our goal this year, to win the division.”
On the ongoing discussions about drug testing in the NFL:
“I think essentially the players want something that has been proven and something that’s going to give truthful results. Right now, I don’t know if there is an HGH test that the players feel comfortable with. That said, I think it’s necessary for the game. I think it is something we need. We are a drug-free sport and it’s good to put everyone on the same level. … Hopefully we’ll find a fair test to administer to everybody.”
Do you feel like you have to put the team on your shoulders to take them to the next level this year?:
“I think there’s more to a team than just a quarterback, but the biggest way a quarterback is measured is by wins and losses. So in order for me to get to that next level, I’ve got to lead this team and we’ve got to start winning football games. Then, I think the rest kind of takes care of itself.”
What’s your take on what can be done to protect athletes from concussions?:
“I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. I think they’ve done a lot in the last few years with the fines and really with trying to define what is legal and what is illegal, what is not acceptable. The line was a little fuzzy a few years ago and I think the longer we get into it, the more it becomes defined and the more the players start to understand and transform their games to try and fit the new rules, it really is going to benefit.”