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EA Q&A: Going Back to the 716

With the Postseason on the Line, a Smoldering Ryan Fitzpatrick Returns to B-Lo


EA: Ryan Fitzpatrick loved living in the 716, he loved the fans and he loved the Bills organization. But this is a different player than the one who lined up for the Bills between 2009 and '12. Playing with more talented offensive personnel, the Harvard product is a smarter player and he has become a more patient quarterback. During the Jets' five-game winning streak, Fitz has completed 64.5% of his passes with 13 TD and 1 INT while averaging 305 yards per game. He exhibits tremendous poise in the pocket and has used his legs to convert 60% of his third-down runs into first downs. With 273 yards, Fitz can join Joe Namath as the only 4,000-yard passers in franchise history. And with one TD pass back in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick will set the franchise individual TD mark at 30.

If you are waiting for an implosion, you got the wrong guy. If you came for an explosion, Fitz and the Jets offense have you covered.

EA: Fitz is playing with better weapons than he has ever lined up with before. Brandon Marshall & Eric Decker and Chris Ivory & Bilal Powell are dynamite duos and now you are seeing others step up as well like Quincy Enunwa and Kenbrell Thompkins. Fitzpatrick is smart and decisive, quickly reading defenses and then getting the ball out without hesitation. And he also is in perfect sync with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Fitzpatrick exhibits an uncanny feel in the pocket, stepping up at the right time or moving to create just the extra second or two that he needs. The 33-year-old, searching for his first playoff berth, also is a natural leader and the players appreciate his competitive nature. Quiet by nature, Bilal Powell lets his game do his talking. Powell, who is a jack of all trades, became more explosive in his fifth NFL season and he has already totaled 47 receptions out of the backfield. Powell is also averaging a career-high 4.5 yards per carry. He has been huge down the stretch, having averaged nearly 6 receptions (5.6) per contest.

EA: The Jets played well against Taylor the first time around, sacking the Bills QB four times and limiting him to 12 yards on six carries. Buffalo won that first contest because they totaled four takeaways and the Jets had none. It appears Taylor is going to miss two of his top weapons in RB LeSean McCoy, who was brilliant against the Jets with 112 yards on the ground, and TE Charles Clay, who totaled five receptions for 52 yards. Taylor rushed the ball 14 times in the Bills' 16-6 win over the Cowboys, so the Jets must be prepared for the zone read game. And Taylor loves going up top to Sammy Watkins, so the Jets have to maintain their rush lanes and get him off his spot. Taylor has posted solid numbers in his first season as a starter, but the Bills are 0-5 when he has thrown 30 or more passes.

EA: I don't have the entire list, but here are some notables. Already Out: CB Stephon Gilmore, TE Charles Clay & WR Marcus Easley. Injury Questions: DT Marcell Dareus, RB LeSean McCoy, CB Ronald Darby, LB Nigel Bradham & S Bacarri Rambo. We'll have a much better feel for this as the week progresses.

EA: Both teams are in much different spots than they were back in Week 10. I thought the Bills' corners were excellent during that 22-17 victory, but they will be without Gilmore and quite possibly Darby this week. And Rex Ryan did not sound optimistic about LeSean McCoy (159 total yards) playing the return matchup while TE Charles Clay (5-52) is already on injured reserve. And the Jets also didn't play well as they converted on just 1-of-3 red zone trips and Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted a pair of times. Even minus Shady, the Bills will attempt to get their run game going with both rookie Karlos Williams and free agent find Mike Gillislee. But the Jets own the NFL's top rush defense and they have also been the NFL's top third-down defense (21.5%) during this win streak.

EA: Wait, you didn't want to address the team too? I don't have connects like that. Enjoy the game!

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