In this edition of The Pewter Plank’s Position Previews, we dive into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks.
Compared to the rest of the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback situation is unique, to say the least.
Jameis Winston’s suspension has thrown a wrench into head coach Dirk Koetter’s plans under center. The former number one overall pick is entering a crucial third year with the Bucs. His coach’s job may rest on his performance.
However, Koetter may get some relief as he can hand the offense over to the capable backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick. In his three starts last season, Fitzpatrick completed 57 percent of his passes for 745 yards and three touchdowns. The most important stat for Fitzpatrick was the Buccaneers were 2-1 in his starts.
The third man in the mix is Ryan Griffin. The career backup hasn’t taken a snap in the NFL but seems to have the trust of the Buccaneers coaching staff.
Regardless of who is under center, the offense as a whole is in a great position. An improved offensive line and the addition of Ronald Jones should create a more balanced attack for Tampa Bay.
Last season, the Buccaneers were fourth in the NFL in passing yards with 4,366 yards. Although Tampa was battling from behind and may have put up some garbage time stats, Winston and Fitzpatrick have put up strong numbers throughout their careers.
Moving the ball won’t be an issue for the Tampa quarterbacks, backbreaking turnovers may be their downfall.
On the roster:
Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, Austin Allen
On the bubble:
Tampa Bay will keep Winston, Fitzpatrick and Griffin on the roster. Leaving Austin Allen as the odd man out. The former Arkansas Razorback could be a long-term developmental piece as Fitzpatrick heads into the twilight of his career.
Perhaps Allen can land on the practice squad and be an emergency backup if Fitzpatrick or Griffin suffers an injury.
The continued development of Winston will be the reason this unit succeeds. Fitzpatrick is who he is, a viable backup who can win some games with a strong roster around him. Winston, on the other hand, is still a mystery.
Although Winston’s has seen improvements statistically, it hasn’t translated into wins. The Florida State product needs to catch fire as soon as he returns from his suspension.
Now with an offensive line which can protect him, a viable rushing attack and a plethora of weapons, Winston has everything he needs to get Tampa into the postseason.
Remeber, there was a reason Tampa Bay was expected to take a leap last season and much of that was because of Winston.
Frankly, Winston’s suspension has made it tough to get excited about Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation.
Although a solid option, Fitzpatrick likely won’t be able to compete against Drew Brees, Carson Wentz (or Nick Foles) and Ben Roethlisberger through the first three weeks. Staring a 0-3 start in the face largely due to the team’s starting quarterback being suspended doesn’t bode well for the Bucs.
Winston will have the chance to redeem himself with a massive year but if he struggles, questions about his future with the organization will be asked. This is a pivotal year for who many believed would be the face of the franchise.
If Winston can improve upon his 2017 Tampa Bay may have a run in them. He has the ability to turn this Buccaneers offense into a juggernaut.