Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lack of big-play passing game hurting Bills' offense


Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had his fair share of missed opportunities downfield in the Buffalo's Bills' loss on Sunday. That seems to be becoming a nasty habit for the veteran signal-caller.

While Fitzpatrick connected with wide receiver Stevie Johnson for a 63-yard strike that lead to a field goal, he missed more than one deep throw that could have turned the game around.

The most apparent of those misses was an overthrown pass to running back C.J. Spiller on a free play after the Colts jumped offsides. (photo: Matt Britt, Flickr)

“I get them to jump offsides and I miss C.J. Then we have a down the field shot to Donald (Jones) we do not complete,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “Being able to hit those big plays would help.”

The problem may be two-fold when it comes to those big plays. For one, Buffalo has cut down on its downfield shots this year compared to years past. Fitzpatrick has attempted more than 50 passes of 20 yards or more in each of past two years, according to ESPN.com's stats. This year, he's thrown only 23, and he's on pace to only throw around 40.

In throws more than 20 yards, he's connected on only 17 percent of his opportunities this year. He's averaged around 27 percent the previous four years.

Spiller, whose playmaking abilities have supplemented some of that production, was hesitant to say that the team's failure to convert big plays has been its Achilles' heal all season, but he acknowledged Monday that the team certainly struggled in that department against Indianapolis.

“... yesterday was just one of those days we just missed it,” Spiller said. “I missed a couple cuts and we missed a couple throws. Everybody. It is a group thing and it is something that is very correctable. We have to correct it and hopefully improve on it the rest of the season.”

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