Ask Gary: Should Fitzpatrick keep the QB job?

by Gary Shelton on September 22, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Fitzpatrick has one more test to keep the QB job./CARMEN MANDATO

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

After seeing how Ryan Fitzpatrick has been able to accomplish things with this Bucs offense that Winston never could over these past 2 weeks, is it possible that Fitzpatrick is the right QB to lead this team in 2018? Up to this point Jameis Winston has been mostly ineffective throwing the deep ball, he continues to make terrible decisions at times, he turns the ball over too much, his offense struggles to score TDs, and his accuracy in general remains inconsistent. Whatever he did in the preseason this year against mostly backups proves nothing. Fitzpatrick is doing it when the games count. Do you think the Bucs will be ok with waiting until next year to restore Winston as the starter and continue to hope he will someday mature and grow into the franchise QB he was drafted to be?

Larry Beller

If Fitzpatrick keeps winning, he will -- more and more -- become the quarterback of this team. But let's be honest. Fitzpatrick has an up-and-down history. No, he's never had this many weapons, but he's been prone to have four-and-five interception days.

One of those would be an open door for Winston. A loss -- maybe two -- would be an open door for Winston. Fitzpatrick just doesn't have the pedigree for a team to stick with him during a losing streak. The Bucs still think highly of Winston's contract, and at some point, they have to consider the future.

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I'm on record as saying that Fitzpatrick should be the quarterback as long as he wins and as long as he plays well. But in the NFL, hot streaks don't last forever.

It isn't as if Winston hasn't had great games, too. His lifetime quarterback rating is substantially higher than Fitzpatrick's, and his interception percentage is lower. So don't make the mistake of comparing Fitzpatrick's two great games with all the dips in Winston's career. I agree: Winston has never had two games like this before. But the season is long. Let's let it play out.

For now, I'm a Fitzpatrick man. Two weeks from now? Who knows?

Do you think that Jameis Winston is rooting for Ryan Fitzmagic to have a third in a row 4 touchdown, 400-yard game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night (9/24/2018)?

Scott Myers

Outwardly, I'm sure Winston will be. He can't win by pulling against his own teammate. The public would never forgive him. After all, this suspension is Winston's own doing. Add betrayal to that, and no one would forgive him his selfishness.

Privately? Down deep? I would think that Winston wants the Bucs to win, but he wants Fitzpatrick to throw six interceptions and fumble twice in the process. I think he'd like to see two kickoffs returned for touchdowns and four interceptions brought back. In other words, he'd probably want his team to succeed yet still turn to him in need.

Look, Winston isn't the most worldly guy. He may well think that he'll start next week even if Fitzpatrick goes 400-4 again. In his mind, it's his team.

Here's what I would do if I were Winston. I'd let it come from me. I'd show up to work next week, and I'd act like it was a foregone conclusion that Fitzpatrick starts. "I can't believe you'd even ask," he should say. "Of course Ryan should start. He's earned it. This isn't about me. This is about the team." He should say it a dozen times in a dozen ways. During the next game, against the Bears, he should be the best backup you can imagine.

Winston wants to be in Tampa Bay a long time, with a rich new contract. But most fans are skeptical of him and the accusations against him. At this point, he needs to be a loyal soldier. The quarterback job is the Bucs', not his.

Is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s game in a similar “zone” as Kurt Warner’s in 1999?

Carlos Ubinas

The major difference is the length of play. Warner started all 16 games for the Rams, plus three playoff games. He led his team to a Super Bowl title. Overall, I think you have to give the edge to Warner, don't you?

But for a two-game sample, Fitzpatrick has been the better of the two. He's had two 400-yard-plus games; Warner didn't have any (he had nine 300-yard days). Fitzpatrick has had two four-touchdown performances (Warner had one five-yard touchdown day and eight other three-touchdown days.

Hey, at least Fitzpatrick has been in the league. Warner had one season (and 11 passes) befoerr 1999. He was a former grocery store clerk who came from nowhere and ended up in the Hall of Fame.

Both of them had great weapons. Warner had the Greatest Show on Turf, remember. He had Marshall Faulk in his backfield.

To me, the difference is this: Warner was a great quarterback starting a great career. He never really was a true backup.

Again, Fitzpatrick has had the better of it for two games. But if leads his team to 13 wins, and three playoff wins, a Super Bowl, then it would a fine sight, indeed,

In 1978 the NFL went from 14 games to 16, 6 preseason to 4, and created the pass interference rules that created the modern passing fancy of the 80s and 90s. Are we witnessing another change in the NFL landscape where new rules have 400-yard passers weekly, and 500-yard teams where 400 yards were key?

Nick Houllis

It's possible, Nick. It wasn't just that the pass-interference rules were changed. There was also the liberalization of holding, a quarterback's ability to throw the ball away when in distress. Almost every rule change has benefitted the quarterback, including the new crackdown on the roughing the passer rules.

It's a good time to be a quarterback. When, say, Johnny Unitas played, the defensive backs could beat up his receivers all the way down the field. A defensive end could pound on a lineman on his way to pounding on a quarterback.

Of course, we've seen the diminishing of the running back over the years to where it's rare that one goes in the top 10 draft picks. Teams used to be built around running backs. But it's easier to gain seven yards now by throwing instead of by running. The West Coast offense turned a lot of runs into short passes.

Really, do you want to know how accessible a 400-yard game is? The following guys have notched them: Matt Flynn, Kellen Moore, Kyle Orton, Brian Griese, Charlie Batch, Josh Freeman, Glenn Foley, Elvis Grbac, Chad Henne, Jim Miller, Kelly Holcomb, Tim Rattay, Matt Leinart and Chris Weinke.

On the other hand, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach and Bart Starr never threw for 400 yards in a game.

What do you expect from Vita Vea not only in Monday's game but for the rest of the season? The guy is a rookie who has missed nearly all of training camp due to injury. He can't be in football shape and with no reps how effective can he be?

Larry Beller

I don't expect a lot, Larry, to be honest. And I think missing training camp is going to hurt him more than the injury he has had. I think he'll plug in the run a little, but unless you're looking for him, you won't see him. He probably won't be on the field for that many snaps.

It's a hard position. Warren Sapp and Brad Culpepper will tell you. A lot of offensive players can get their hands on you on any given play. I'll be honest, I didn't see a lot of Vea in college. I have no idea how quick he can be. The Bucs obviously liked what they saw.

You know what the Bucs should expect? One play, maybe two, were Vea flashes his potential. The rest of them, he needs to plug and make his linemates better.

We'll all give Vea a chance to be great. But it won't be in his first game, I don't think.

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