FitzMagic Fever Spreads through Tampa Bay

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers are the talk of the NFL after an impressive 2-0 start.


Fitzpatrick can do no wrong lately. He got plenty of laughs from the media for this outfit, courtesy of DeSean Jackson.

Bennett Carollo, Staff Writer

A couple weeks ago I wrote a story about the then not-yet-started 2018-19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season. In that article, I mentioned how the national media, so-called experts, and odds makers alike weren’t giving Tampa Bay much of a chance this season, largely due to the fact that backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick would have to start the team’s first three games due to a suspension of that length given to starter Jameis Winston. I then went on to say that I thought Fitzpatrick would do just fine and possibly perform even better than Winston would have. However, I can’t say that I quite saw THIS coming.
Fitzpatrick hasn’t just simply held his own; he has been masterful in leading the Buccaneers to their first 2-0 start since 2010. The stats speak for themselves. In a week one barnburner against the Saints in New Orleans, Fitz threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, with a physical rushing score to boot. The end result was a 48-40 divisional upset win. In the days following, all that could be heard from sports writers and talking heads was that this game was simply a “fluke” and that surely Fitzpatrick and the Bucs would get a wakeup call the next week from the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, everyone was wrong again. Fitzpatrick’s encore performance was a 402 yard, four touchdown masterpiece. The Bucs vanquished the Eagles and all the invading Philly fans from Raymond James Stadium with a 27-21 victory. Across the two games, Fitz has an NFL best 151.5 passer rating. There’s no other quarterback in the league playing as well as Fitzpatrick is right now.
And yet, there is still a debate going around about whether or not Fitz should retake his role as backup to Winston when the suspended QB returns. In my opinion, there should be no debate. No matter what happens in week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ryan Fitzpatrick has, for the time being, earned the starting job. With the same weapons that Winston had at his disposal a season ago, including stud wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, Fitzpatrick has been able to do what the FSU product never could. In the entire 2017 season, Winston and the Bucs achieved a mere two plays of 50 or more yards. Through two games with Fitz at the helm, the team already has four. Two of these such plays have been to Jackson, with whom Winston had well-documented issues connecting with on the deep ball last season. Fitzpatrick has had no such issues. The Bucs have never had an offense this explosive in their entire history. Even still, some fans still claim that Winston is the team’s QB of the future and that the team should go with him come week 4.
Quite frankly, Jameis Winston hasn’t been all that good in his three year Bucs career. Although his 69 touchdowns are impressive, they become less so when the 44 career interceptions are taken into consideration. When you also factor in his 15 lost fumbles, it is clear that Winston has a severe ball security issue. Winston’s 60.8 completion percentage is also not ideal. These stats showcase Winston’s noticeable poor decision making skills on the football field. Far too many times have I seen him scan the field and find nobody open, and then still force throws into dangerous spots. The most troubling thing about this is that he never seems to learn his lesson. Possibly most importantly, Tampa Bay has gone a measly 18-27 in games started by Jameis. Although this may seem like an overreaction to some, Fitzpatrick has instilled more belief in me in two games than Winston did in three seasons.
Arguably more importantly than anything else I have talked about, Ryan Fitzpatrick has clearly won over his team and fans and has everyone in Bucs country believing. The Bucs coaching staff would be wise to stick with the hot hand in this situation and see how long the FitzMagic will last.