The Buffalo Bills consider Ryan Fitzpatrick their franchise quarterback and will have a training camp competition between Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen to be the backup. So does that mean Brad Smith will give up the quarterback position in favor of playing receiver and special teams, and only taking snaps in the wildcat formation?
Not according to Smith, who says that he’s spending most of his time with quarterbacks coach David Lee and working more at quarterback this offseason than he ever has in his NFL career.
“I’ve never had this opportunity that I’ve got with coach Lee and get the extensive work to work on this kind of stuff,” Smith told Buffalobills.com. “I’m just glad I can see improvement and see things getting better and see things coming back a little bit from a few years ago. So it’s pretty cool.”
One of the reasons Smith was excited about signing with the Bills last year in free agency was that they told him they’d view him as a quarterback first and a runner/receiver/returner second. But when the season actually started, Smith had 23 catches, 20 rushes and 15 kickoff returns, while throwing only one pass — which was intercepted. That suggests that the Bills really view Smith more as an all-purpose athlete than a quarterback.
Smith, who played quarterback at Missouri, doesn’t quite see it that way, though. He says he believes he can help the Bills by learning to play the quarterback position the way an NFL pocket passer would.
“My footwork has improved a great deal,” he said. “Just some things I did in college and now I’m getting back to doing it and correcting those things. My stride steps, my balance, that’s all improved a great deal. Now it’s just about carrying it over to the team periods and going through my reads. It’s all about rhythm playing the quarterback position. Once you get in a rhythm then you can be successful.”
Once Smith has the offense down, he believes he’ll be able to hurt opposing defenses by running many of the same passing plays that the Bills run with Fitzpatrick, while also making plays with his feet.
“It is exciting,” Smith said. “It’s about getting an advantage some kind of way. If we run the same plays that Fitz runs when he’s in the game and then we turn around and run all kinds of crazy stuff it keeps them off balance. We’ve got some things up our sleeve that we’re working on and I think we’ll have some success with it.”
That sounds good. But if last year is any indication, the Bills will use Smith as a runner/receiver/returner, and not as a quarterback, when the real games start in September.