Ryan Fitzpatrick has gone through the same old cycle for what seems like forever in his career. He goes somewhere as the backup, the starting quarterback gets injured and Fitzpatrick comes in and plays lights-out….for a while. Once the tape is out, it’s usually time for Fitzpatrick to resume the backup role.
On the eve of Jameis Winston’s return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his suspension, it looked like it was about that time for “Fitzmagic.” Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions and you could see it in the Bucs fan’s eyes as they thought, “here we go again, the magic is over.” Typical Ryan. But, the veteran didn’t fall apart and went on to throw for more than 400 yards and almost led a comeback in a 30-27 loss.
So now what? Who starts? The Bucs’ franchise quarterback is coming back this week and Fitzpatrick has Tampa Bay at 2-1, a record not many thought they’d have with the Steelers, Eagles and Saints as their first three games. Fitzpatrick has also thrown for more than 400 yards in each of those games and already has double-digit touchdowns. Two of the three interceptions featured a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage and Mike Evans cutting off a route that shouldn’t have been cut off. So, really only one of the picks was Fitz’s fault, but it did go for a touchdown.
Here’s what the Bucs are telling Winston if he starts this week; “Go get in trouble, get suspended and you automatically get your job back when you come back, no matter what.” This message doesn’t bode well for someone who obviously has a hard time controlling himself off the field.
Through the first three games of the season, Fitzpatrick has 1,230 yards, 11 TDs and four interceptions while completing 70% of his passes. He’s also the only Tamps QB with consecutive weeks of 400 yards passing — (Weeks 1-3, 2018), the only QB to pass for 400 yards multiple times in a season and has the Most consecutive weeks of having a passer rating of at least 140.0 in a season — two.
Through the first three games of the season last year, Winston had 864 yards, six TDs and three interceptions. These games including matches against the Bears and Giants, two of the lower-tier teams last year. Winston finished with 19 TDs and 11 interceptions in 13 games last year. The way Fitzmagic is going, he could break that TD mark by week five.
It might be Winston’s job in the future, but it’s Fitzmagic time. He should keep the job until he really loses it with multiple bad games. He shouldn’t be looking over his shoulder every single time he throws an interception. The Bucs need to let him know it’s his job now.