QB Ryan Fitzpatrick**
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Q: Does this mean anything more to you playing the Bills?
A: Yeah, it definitely does. It's a special game for me. I think partly just because I've got so many great friends still that are over on the other side of the ball. Guys that I'm going to be excited to watch and I'm sure they're going to be excited to hit me and to watch me play. Also just the four years that we spent there and how much we enjoyed the city of Buffalo and our neighbors and all the fans…what a great experience it was for us. I'm still trying to convince my seven year old in this game at least to be a Texans' fan and not a Bills' fan and then my youngest daughter was born in Buffalo, so we're kind of a torn household right now but I'm trying to convince them that we have to root for the Texans now.
Q: This really felt like home to you when you were here, didn't it?
A: Yeah, it did. We were so comfortable and we really did enjoy it and I remember when I first signed to go to Buffalo, everybody was scratching their head that I knew and, "Why would you ever want to live there?" If you've never been there before, I'm not sure what the thought is on it, but there aren't a whole lot of people that think highly of it if they've never been there but as soon as you get there, I was welcomed with open arms right away and fell in love with the people and we did. We really loved our four years there and outside of football, we made a lot of lifelong friends that we'll keep in touch with forever.
Q: Looking back on leaving Buffalo, can you share with us what went into that whole process? When you left?
A: Yeah, obviously when they fired Chan (Gailey), I felt like my days were potentially numbered just in terms of us being tied together. I talked to Coach Marrone a little bit and I knew Nathaniel Hackett from '09 when he was the offensive assistant and we've got a great relationship so I met with those guys, talked with them. We tried to get something worked out in terms of a restructuring and it just didn't happen. It didn't work out so I moved on. I would've loved to have stayed in Buffalo and all that, but things happen. Things happen for a reason. I had a great experience in Tennessee last year and now moving to Houston and getting a chance to start and to play from day one, so things have worked out for me.
Q: Did they make it known to you, when you met with Marrone and Whaley, that they were going to take a quarterback in the first round? Was the part of your decision process?A: No. I can't remember the exact specifics of all that. I knew at that point if I was going to be released, I wasn't going to have a chance to go in and start somewhere so for me it was I knew that I was going to be in a backup role wherever I was, a mentor type role and it just didn't end up working out with Buffalo and so Tennessee I thought was a unique opportunity with a guy like Jake Locker, who I had heard a lot about especially as a person to go there and try to fit that mentor type role for him.
Q: Does any of that, how all that went down, add a little competitive fuel to the fire for all of this because they obviously turned the page and went to Manuel as part of that whole process?
A: There are definitely no hard feelings with the way that it went down. I think the little added extra whatever it is I'm going to be feeling is more so because it's the guys that I'm playing against and just having so many good buddies. That's what's going to give me the extra fuel. That extra competiveness in this game. It's not necessarily ill-willed or anything. It's more so playing against so many of my good friends.
Q: Speaking of some of the guys you will be playing against. I remember you talking about how intimidating it is seeing Mario Williams there and Kyle (Williams) and things like that. How do you foresee that come Sunday?
A: Yeah, they're great, great, great players. Up front, those guys really jump off the film in terms of how hard they play and how disruptive they are in the run game and the pass game so that's going to be a big part of this game and of our success versus their success is they're four down linemen versus our linemen and how we do and how we fare in that matchup. It's a very talented defense. Even switching over from last year with the different scheme and all that, they've got a lot of talent across the board and they've shown the talent in the last few years in terms of the way the defense has performed.
Q: After such a strong start for you in the those first two games, what happened against the Giants?
A: It was just me, forcing a few balls. You've all seen it before. Some bad decisions and trying to do too much and I just have to play more within myself and play smart and it was a real costly deal in that game; the three turnovers. In a game that at least initially in the first half, there wasn't a whole lot going on with points and lighting up the scoreboard on either side and so I fell into the mistakes of not playing a smart game, especially early.
*Q: I don't want to say this in a bad way Ryan, but you sometimes never learn in some ways? You sometimes never learn and you can laugh about it and you can acknowledge it. *
A: It's just one of those things. Part of it is the mentality that I've always had. It is what it is. I have to learn from those things and move on. It's part of who I am as a quarterback and I never really want to take away the aggressiveness that I have at times. It's a just a matter of picking and choosing the right spots to do it.
Q: Do you see this as a validation game for both teams?
A: I think that, in the NFL, with whole week-to-week roller coaster of confidence and there's the difference of young teams and veteran teams and teams that can be resilient versus teams that are going into the tank every week after a loss. I think we've got a real resilient, veteran group here. The loss last week, we've already put that behind us. We've got to come out as prepare as hard as we can this week and get back to those winning ways, but be able to stay level. Not getting too down after the loss or getting too high after a win is very important in the NFL. I believe that we have that and we'll see come Sunday, in terms of if we're going to be able to come out with the focus and preparation that we need.
Q: When you signed with Houston, was Matt Schaub still there?
A: They cut Schaub either right before or right after I signed. It might've been the day of, but the moves were very close to each other.
Q: Did you figure the starting job in Houston would be up for grabs and that you'd have a chance?
A: They said, 'We're not going to guarantee you anything, but we're going to give you an opportunity here. We're going to give you a chance to compete.' I didn't know if they were going to draft a guy with the first pick or the first pick in the second round. I didn't know if they were going to draft a guy or not. They gave me no indication, but Coach O'Brien said, 'We're going to give you an opportunity to compete for this job.' For me, he stuck to his word. He allowed me to compete for it and I knew that, if it really was a job that was up for grabs, I would be able to get it.
Q: Do you have any thoughts about the recent purchase of the franchise?
A: I thought the fact that he [Terry Pegula] was the one that ended up buying the team was such great news, in terms of a city that loves and deserves a football team. The fact that it's now fairly secure in staying in Buffalo. That's great news. I was so excited about know there was a guy that understand the passion of Buffalo and understood the necessity of leaving the team there and going ahead and acting on that.
Q: You're a quarterback that plays more off of heart and moxie than strictly talent. Do you think any winning quarterback really needs those qualities?
A: I was a seventh-round pick for a reason and I always kind of say that in terms of my talent and the tangible things. I think there are so many intangibles that go into being a successful quarterback and go into playing this position; whether it's the mental stuff, the moxie, being able to overcome the adversity. All of those different things, I think, are more important than being able to have the rocket arm and being 6'5" and make all the throws. I've always relied on the intangible side of things and I think it shows in my play. Sometimes it's a real positive and sometimes it's a negative. That's been the deal with me my whole career, with me trying to obtain that consistency as a player. Consistent decision-making, consistently making and taking the chances when they're versus knowing when to check the ball down or take the sack. Something I fight to this day is becoming a more consistent and efficient quarterback.
Q: Are you a little disappointed that this game isn't in Buffalo?
A: I think that would've been cool. Even watching the film it's amazing that there are now more 14 jerseys than when I was there. I just think the support for me has really grown, especially in the last year and since the draft. I think that's really cool. Is there a new 14 on the team? (Laughs)
Q: Have you paid any attention to what EJ Manuel has done here?
A: Not really. I'm very interested with Nathanial Hackett being a close friend and watching C.J. [Spiller] and Freddy [Jackson] and Scott Chandler and those guys. So I'm into it by just being a fan of the NFL and a fan of those guys and always trying to be in their corner, expect for on this Sunday. I definitely pay attention to it.
Q: Did Bill O'Brien share any stories with you about Terry Pegula given the Penn State connection?
A: We talked about it a little bit, but this week, for Coach O'Brien and I, we're at odds because Harvard is playing Brown. I don't know how much we'll talk until after the game Saturday night under the lights with Harvard and Brown.
Q: How's the family?
A: We've got number five on the way, so we're continuing to add. I don't know when we're going to stop, but I'm just trying to have more than Freddy [Jackson].
Q: What's your eldest son's name who is still a Bills fan?