Buccaneers training camp battle breakdowns: Backup quarterback
By Zach Sauers
After losing Mike Glennon in free agency to the Chicago Bears, the Buccaneers were on the look for a new backup quarterback to compete with returner Ryan Griffin. Who will come out victorious in this position battle in the Bay?
For a team looking to turn the corner in the NFL, it is wise to have a solid back-up quarterback for the in-case of emergency situations. The Buccaneers for the past two years have been blessed with having one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league in Mike Glennon. Although Glennon decided to find out if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, General Manager Jason Licht made it known that he was going to offer top of the line backup quarterback money to the man before he left.
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Since Glennon’s departure, the Bucs have added two new quarterbacks to the 90-man roster in hopes of adding competition for the returner Ryan Griffin.
Griffin, since being claimed off waivers back in 2015 from the Saints, has been the Bucs third string option who has had plenty of time in Head Coach Dirk Koetter’s offense to grow and learn. The Tulane product has seen all of his action in pre-season exhibition games and has yet to log a single snap in a regular season game.
This may be why Licht decided to go shopping once again this off-season to bring in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and undrafted rookie Sefo Liufao.
To begin, Liufao is a product out of the growing power Colorado University. As a four-year contributor to the Buffaloes, he threw for over 9,500 yards with a quarterback rating of 129.9. Now although the stats for Liufao are relevant, there is no denying the lack of talent he faced in the Pac-12. Liufao was projected to come into the league as an undrafted rookie, and that is exactly how he ended up in Tampa with the Bucs.
Liufao is projected as more of a camp arm/practice squad type player for the Bucs and has a long shot to make the 53 man roster as the backup for Jameis Winston.
So what about this Ryan Fitzpatrick guy?
The man… the myth… the beard.
The journey-man Fitzpatrick himself saw his time come to an end with the New York Jets after a horrid turn of events in the Big Apple. The once up and coming Jets (not really) now see themselves as one of the worst teams in the NFL.
After unloading a majority of their veteran players, Fitzpatrick got a call with a Florida area code. After signing a one-year, three million dollar contract with the Bucs, Fitzpatrick looks to be the front runner to win the job behind Winston.
Why Fitzpatrick over Griffin? First and foremost, if the Bucs believed in Griffin as the true number two quarterback, they would have unloaded Glennon this past season to a quarterback needy team for a draft pick instead of watching him walk out the door. Not to mention why sign Fitzpatrick in the first place if Griffin really is their guy?
Now although various Fitzpatrick haters across the NFL may blast him for his inability to win games throughout his career, you can not deny his individual success. The man has thrown for almost 26,000 yards in his career for a reason, and when his team has the talent around him… Fitz gets the job done.
Reference the 2015 season with the “loaded” Jets offense, 31 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. Fitz was slinging that rock.
“FiTzPaTrIcK tHrOuGh SiX pIcKs In OnE gAmE bRo?”
Go ahead and put any top 15 quarterback in the Jets situation and watch how he performs.
The fact of the matter is the Bucs went shopping and brought in a veteran presence to help continue the grooming of the franchise saving Winston along with solidifying a backup quarterback spot.
Next: Buccaneers training camp battle breakdowns: Third wide receiver
Due to the running back situation, the Bucs may be forced to keep only two quarterbacks… now with Fitzpatrick on the roster that is alright.
In essence, there really is no competition at the backup quarterback position.
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