Ryan Fitzpatrick is ready to assume his intended role with the Buccaneers, backup and mentor.
The beard is alive and well with the Buccaneers. Ryan Fitzpatrick has joined the team on a one year, $3 million deal (per Spotrac), bringing the “Fitzmagic” to Florida. I don’t know if that has the same level of importance to it as the Lebron announcement years ago, but the analogy is there anyway. Fitzpatrick’s move to Tampa Bay marks his seventh team in now a thirteen-year career. At 34 years old, he is the quintessential “journeyman” quarterback.
Now, despite his success in 2015, we know that he is not about to unseat Jameis Winston. The only way he plays is if Winston is helped off the field due to an injury. Fitzpatrick is here because of the lack of belief in Ryan Griffin, and the want to have an experienced backup, just in case anything happens.
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Coach Dirk Koetter explained the reasoning best (per the UPI):
"“We think Ryan is a good fit for what we do No. 1, for our style,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said. “And the second part of that was if we were going to bring in another guy, we also wanted a guy with a lot of game experience that could possibly be of assistance to Jameis in the day-to-day grind during the season. (Quarterbacks coach) Mike Bajakian can’t be down there as many hours a day as Jameis is in that room. Mike can’t be down there all that time. A guy that’s got 116 starts and played for seven different teams has got that experience.”"
It may be his third year, but Winston is still a young player. It still is beneficial to have a veteran influence in the locker room with a young player. Fitzpatrick had a rough year on the field last year, but he still can be a positive influence in the quarterback room. He has been around this league for a long time. Fitzpatrick is ready to embrace his role, and knows how he can benefit the young Winston:
"“I’m not going to tell him how to throw a football,” Fitzpatrick said. “He was the No. 1 pick for a reason. He knows how to throw a football. I’m not going to tell him how to interact with anybody. He has his own personality, which I think is great for this team. There’s a lot of stuff in the film room, also just looking at defenses, preparing for a game – a lot of things like on the sideline during the game, talking about adjustments and things.”"
It’s good to see Fitzpatrick taking this tact. In New York, despite the turnovers, he didn’t seem so ready to be a backup, even though that was the role he was signed for. He only became the starter in 2015 after Geno Smith was punched in the mouth. After his admittedly good 2015 he felt the job was his and was reluctant to give it up. Now, he is singing a new tune which is music to the Bucs ears.
This move, now that we know Fitzpatrick has his head on straight, will only serve to make Jameis Winston better.