“I’m getting ready for the Steelers. You knew that was coming, huh?” Fitzpatrick said, smiling. “I don’t know. Nothing is given. I know that and I know that I have to perform these next six weeks.”
Fitzpatrick is cautious because he’s been in this position before.
Selected by St. Louis in the seventh round of the 2005 draft out of Harvard, Fitzpatrick is on his third team, and in his second year in Buffalo. His first true chance to prove himself came two years ago with Cincinnati, when he went 4-8-1 as a starter filling in after Carson Palmer was hurt.
Signing with Buffalo last season, Fitzpatrick showed further progress in finishing the season as the starter after Edwards was benched in November. Fitzpatrick went 5-4 in games he had a majority of playing time on a team that only won six games.
This season, Fitzpatrick has been particularly adept at getting the most out of a patchwork, no-name receiving group that opened the season with one bona fide starter in Evans. Stevie Johnson, a former seventh-round pick, is enjoying a breakout season with nine touchdowns and 728 yards receiving, ranking among the NFL’s top 10 in both categories.
The passing attack hasn’t missed a beat after Roscoe Parrish sustained a season-ending broken wrist three weeks ago. Donald Jones, an undrafted rookie free agent, has filled in with six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson doesn’t see a reason why Fitzpatrick can’t remain as starter.
“You know what they say, ‘Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken,’” Johnson said. “I feel like he’s one of those quarterbacks you can build a team around.”