Fitzpatrick has come a long way

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't the same player that stunk up the Metrodome in 2005. He's proven to be more efficient, despite his team being 2-9.

Ryan Fitzpatrick's Metrodome career is one of contrasts. Both were in December and both were markedly different. In their meeting Dec. 31, 2006, Fitzpatrick was a backup whose only duty was in a mop-up role, taking three kneeldowns in the final two minutes in a 41-21 Rams blowout that ended Brad Childress' first season as head coach.

The year before, on Dec. 11, 2005, Fitzpatrick, then a rookie QB from Harvard, got a game ball. Unfortunately for him, that game ball came from the Vikings.

In a 27-13 win by the Vikings, Fitzpatrick did everything he could to help the cause. While he scored the Rams' only touchdown with a run for a score, he threw five interceptions that continually shot the Rams in the foot.

That nervous rookie has come a long way and the Vikings won't be seeing the same guy who embarrassed himself in his first visit to Minnesota and the thunder under the dome.

"I tell you what, that guy has become a pretty good quarterback," cornerback Lito Sheppard said. "We saw him last year when I was with the Jets and he makes all the throws and he can move his team. He had a bad game, obviously, when he played here, but he's a different quarterback now than he was then."

Fitzpatrick is prone to turnovers – he has thrown two interceptions in four of the nine games he has played – but if people expect to see a repeat of his brutal performance in his only previous start, they may be in for a rude awakening. That Ivy League rookie has come a long way and may be the future of the Bills franchise after finding a home and a system that fits his style.

"The one thing that Fitz gives you is he had great intelligence. The two things he knows are defense and protection and he can get all our guys headed in the right direction to pick up the stuff the defenses are giving him," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "He understands coverage's and how blitzes relate to coverage's. He really is… Some people say he's a coach on the field. Shoot, he's smarter than the coaches on the sideline. He's smarter and he does a great job in getting our team organized in the direction that they need to go to handle the stuff we're seeing on third-downs."

SATURDAY NOTES

  • Las Vegas clearly has some concerns about the Vikings on Sunday. One would think facing a 2-9 team on the road, the Vikings could be double-digit favorites. They are favored by just 6½ points.

  • The final injury report came out. CB Chris Cook has already been ruled out and six others are listed as questionable – Adrian Peterson (ankle), Steve Hutchinson (thumb), Percy Harvin (migraines), Ray Edwards (ankle), Greg Lewis (concussion) and Jamarca Sanford (hamstring).

  • On the positive side, Sidney Rice (hip) is listed as probable, along with Brett Favre (shoulder/ankle/neck) and Husain Abdullah (ankle).

  • The Bills placed two players on injured reserve this week – linebacker Reggie Torbor (shoulder) and DE Dwan Edwards (hamstring) – and have ruled guard Eric Wood (ankle) and TE Shawn Nelson (illness) as out. Starting cornerback Terrence McGee is doubtful with a knee injury.

  • Minnesota will be one of the few areas that will see the Falcons-Bucs game on free TV. The battle of a 9-2 and 7-4 team will only be seen in the gulf coast and Minnesota and North Dakota. The game will be broadcast on FOX. The Vikings and Bills play on CBS.

  • Sunday's game will be a rare three-game homestand for the Vikings, who host the Giants next week and the Bears on Monday night the following week.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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