With Jameis Winston set to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four of the NFL season, many are speculating that HC Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Leicht have a quarterback controversy on their hands. Winston is currently serving a three-game suspension from an incident that occurred back in the summer of 2016, when he allegedly sexually assaulted an Uber driver. Winston was not charged with any crime, but the NFL determined he had violated the league’s personal conduct policy after an extensive investigation, stating he acted “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” The league, the NFLPA, and Jameis Winston agreed to a three-game suspension, and no appeal was made on behalf of the Tampa QB.
During the preseason, head coach Dirk Koetter stated that Jameis’ job was not secure- “It’s time for Jameis to lead from the rear” and “Week 4 is a long ways away.” Now fast forward only three weeks, regardless of what the media might say, Jameis will be leading his team (yes, I said his team) as a backup once he returns. This is because of a journeyman QB and career back up by the name of FitzMagic, who has played out of his mind for the first two weeks of the NFL season.
If you were to tell me Ryan Fitzpatrick would have one of, if not the greatest, statistical starts to an NFL season by a QB in league history, I would have said you need to stop hanging out with Josh Gordon.
BUT, IT’S THE TRUTH!!!
FitzMagic is the 1st player in NFL history to start a season off with back to back 400+ passing yards, four touchdown games. And the 3rd quarterback in history to accomplish such a feat over any two-game span. Through the first two weeks of an NFL season, his 819 passing yards ranks 2nd all-time behind only Tom Brady. Fitz’s 8 TD’s are the 3rd most all-time, his 151.5 Quarterback Rating is the highest QBR of the Modern Era, and his 13.43 per attempt is 2nd behind the great Joe Namath. Simply put, he’s statistically inserted his name next to current HOFers and soon to be 1st ballet HOFers, but he’s the ONLY name that comes up inside the top 5 of each stat line. Hence, a valid case can be made for the greatest two-game start by a quarterback in NFL history.
Now, even though Jameis Winston is the Buccaneers’ franchise quarterback, the leader of the team, an eater of W’s, and, barring any more off-field issues, the team’s QB for likely the next decade-plus, he should be benched upon arrival.
It would be asinine to throw a wrench into such a well-oiled machine at this point in the season. The team is rolling after two impressive wins, one over division rival and early Super Bowl favorite, New Orlean Saints, and the other against the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles themselves. No one picked them to win either game, but somehow the Buccaneers are sitting at first place in the toughest division in football. So it’d be a tragedy to fix what isn’t broke.
Now, this isn’t to say that the team should just hand Ryan Fitzpatrick the keys to the franchise. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He’s merely keeping the seat warm. Jameis is the future, and Fitz is the present. You simply ride the wave and stick with whoever has the hot hand. I mean, the Ryan Fitzpatrick we’ve grown to know over the past 14 years has to show his face sometime, right? Not if, but when that happens, insert Jameis Winston either the very next game or (if it’s that bad) in the second half of said game to reenergize the offense. The problem is, is it really FitzMagic, or is it the insane amount of talent he has to throw to?
The Buccaneers are stacked on the offensive side of the ball. Who wouldn’t want to have four starting-caliber wideouts in Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Adam Humphries, to go along with two ultra-talented tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Add that to an offensive line that is top 10, even by PFF’s standards, and has only allowed two total sacks against two teams who can seriously get after a QB. It would be hard for any signal-caller not to look “magical” with such a supporting cast.
The case can be made that Fitz has done a lot more with the exact weapons as last year, minus Center Ryan Jensen. What many experts tend to leave out is the most significant change to the offense wasn’t FitzMagic or the redheaded mauler in the trenches; it’s actually offensive coordinator Todd Monken taking over as the team’s play caller. Dirk Koetter has had obvious patterns to his playcalling, and on countless occasions, the entire defense knew the play the second Winston was under center. Monken is the main factor behind the NFL’s #1 offense. He knows how to call plays in today’s NFL and trusts his QB enough to have a full-throttle approach to his play calling, instead of the conservative calls that Buc’s fans have been cursing at since Koetter’s arrival.
When comparing the two quarterbacks, statistically, they are nearly dead even across the board in terms of per game performance.
Per Game Average
Even their career win percentage is nearly dead even.
Ryan Fitzpatrick 50-70-1 or 0.413
Jameis Winston 18-27-0 or 0.400
The kicker (no pun intended) is Jameis finished the 2017 season on a 5-game hot streak, in which he looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He completed 67.2% of his passes, threw for 9 TD’s, and led the league in passing over that span with 1584 yards. He looked equally as good as Fitz throughout this preseason, as they were both incredibly accurate, didn’t turn the ball over once, and made some very impressive throws. Furthermore, let’s not forget jameis Winston is only 24 years old, while Ryan Fitzpatrick is approaching 36 years of age.
FitzMagic’s leash has to be somewhat short due to the situation. At most two straight losses or one horrible performance, and it’s famous Jameis’ time. Plain and simple!