How can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bench Ryan Fitzpatrick when Jameis Winston returns?
Maybe they can’t. Not if Fitzpatrick keeps playing anywhere near how he played on Sunday. In perhaps the most shocking result of Week 1, the Buccaneers destroyed the New Orleans Saints 48-40. It tied the Buccaneers’ franchise record for points scored. And it wasn’t just that the Buccaneers won, it’s how Fitzpatrick carved up a Saints defense that made a huge improvement last season.
Fitzpatrick looked like a Pro Bowler. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns and a tidy 156.2 rating. The passer rating and passing yards were career highs, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. He also ran for 36 yards and a touchdown. It’s one game, and Winston has two more games left on his suspension. There’s no guarantee Fitzpatrick will play two more games like he did Sunday. But if he does, Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter probably isn’t turning back to Winston right as he returns.
Jameis Winston’s suspension opens door for Ryan Fitzpatrick
Winston got himself suspended for an incident in which he groped an Uber driver, a continuation of Winston’s poor off field decisions that dates back to Florida State.
The Buccaneers paid some lip service to saying they were disappointed, but it still seemed like once Winston could return he’d be the starter. The Bucs have too much invested in Winston to turn back now, especially for a 35-year-old journeyman quarterback.
Of course, nobody expected Fitzpatrick to have probably the best performance of any NFL quarterback in Week 1 either.
Fitzpatrick was on fire against Saints
Fitzpatrick was incredible. There were a lot of breakdowns by the Saints defense, but give Fitzpatrick credit for finding every single one.
Fitzpatrick started fast with a deep touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. He consistently found holes in the Saints’ defense, especially to Mike Evans, who had a big game. Chris Godwin pitched in a nice touchdown catch.
“I’d like to announce, Fitzmagic is alive and well,” Koetter said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Saints were expected to roll over the Buccaneers. New Orleans was considered a Super Bowl contender. The Buccaneers were bad last season and without their starting quarterback. But nobody anticipated Fitzpatrick looking like an All-Pro, for one week at least.
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