While Jameis Winston serves his suspension, Ryan Griffin will try to jump journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick and take over as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter to open the season.
Most NFL fans wouldn’t recognize Ryan Griffin’s name.
However, the largely unknown third-string quarterback may find himself as the Week one starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The former undrafted free agent has gained momentum with the Buccaneers since he joined the team in 2015. He was one of the best players throughout training camp last season and he made enough noise for some to suggest he could finally see some NFL action at quarterback.
There was hope heading into last season that Griffin could be the primary backup in 2017. Hopes were dashed almost immediately when Griffin went down with a shoulder injury during the first preseason game.
Instead of giving up on the then 27-year-old, the Buccaneers wanted to ensure he would return in 2018, signing him to a one-year extension last August.
Although it wasn’t a long-term commitment, this year could be all it takes for Griffin to finally get his chance. The coaching staff has invested so much time into Griffin’s development. There’s reason to believe they want to see the fruits of their labor.
The odds are still stacked against Griffin. It will take a perfect performance for much of camp, but the coaching staff has invested a lot in him.
Over the past four seasons, he has been in head coach Dirk Koetter’s ear. Griffin knows the offense as well as anyone. The coaching staff has raved about him and he has a strong relationship with his teammates.
Typically a quarterback controversy turns into a major offseason story, but Griffin has slid under the radar due to his lack of regular season playing time.
One of the biggest keys for Griffin will be to get meaningful reps. He is a lock to make the roster, but third-string quarterbacks usually don’t work with the first or second unit.
Quality reps may not be as hard to come by as some may think. Winston won’t be working much with the first team very often due to his suspension and if Fitzpatrick falters, Griffin is the only other option to turn too.
Griffin certainly has his work cut out for him. Along with strong practices, Griffin needs to put it together in preseason games. Practicing well is one thing, but if he can’t put together scoring drives in the preseason, he won’t be able to surpass Fitzpatrick.
Second-year wideout Chris Godwin told Sirius XMNFL Radio that he is confident in both the backup quarterbacks. Aside from some question marks in the running game, there are plenty of weapons to pick up some slack.
"“But on our team, we have a next man up mentality and we have a ton of faith in Fitz and Ryan Griffin and all of our quarterbacks. Whoever is in there we’re going to be able to utilize our playmakers and really get the ball moving."
Griffin is on the bottom on the totem pole now, but there remains a chance where he takes his first NFL snap against the rival New Orleans Saints in Week one.