Ryan Fitzpatrick has been outplaying Jameis Winston for two years

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Jameis Winston‘s suspension ends today, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to remain the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback. The theory goes that you just don’t bench a guy who’s coming off three consecutive 400-yard passing games, as Fitzpatrick is.

But Fitzpatrick outplaying Winston actually started last year, during the three games Fitzpatrick started when Winston was injured. The Buccaneers went 2-1 in the three games Fitzpatrick started, compared to 2-10 in the 13 games Winston started. And advanced stats like Football Outsiders’ DVOA and ESPN’s QBR say that Fitzpatrick played slightly better than Winston last year.

Through three games this year, Fitzpatrick has played better than Winston has ever played in any three-game stretch of his NFL career. Fitzpatrick’s stats this year are so unprecedented that regression to the mean is a near-certainty, but just because Fitzpatrick is likely to regress, that doesn’t mean he’s likely to be worse than Winston, coming in without having practiced in three weeks, would be.

Overall, over the Buccaneers’ last 12 games, Fitzpatrick and Winston have each started six. In the six games started by Fitzpatrick, the Bucs are 4-2. In the six games started by Winston, the Bucs are 1-5. Winston has averaged 275.2 yards per game and thrown nine touchdown passes. Fitzpatrick has averaged 329.2 yards per game and thrown 14 touchdown passes.

But the passing numbers aren’t even the area where Fitzpatrick most outshines Winston. What Fitzpatrick does far better than Winston is recognize the pass rush, get rid of the ball before the rush arrives, and protect the ball when he can’t get rid of it. That’s why Winston has been sacked 22 times and fumbled seven times over his last six games, while Fitzpatrick has been sacked just eight times and fumbled zero times over his last six games.

If Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter were to go to Winston now, he’d be choosing the lesser of his two quarterbacks. The 24-year-old Winston may have a long future as the Buccaneers’ franchise quarterback, but the best quarterback on the roster at present is Fitzpatrick.

70 responses to “Ryan Fitzpatrick has been outplaying Jameis Winston for two years

  1. The headline says it all and is further proof that many franchises like the Buccaneers put winning as a secondary concern to making money. Winston the young hopeful who played for the nearby Seminoles and won a championship is better at the box office than veteran journeyman who played at Harvard. But, Ryan Fitzpatrick is indisputably the better passer and Quarterback.

  2. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are quite possibly the two worst top 2 picks. Marcus flies under the radar because he’s boring, but his stats are atrocious. The other one on the other hand has disillusioned an entire fan base he’s still a franchise QB of the future. His numbers are ABYSMAL.

  3. Fitzmagic didnt die last night. It almost did, but it didnt. Which is why the ride is fun. Had the officiating been even, maybe tampa wins. I know the steelers were penalized a ton, but the refs missed a blatant hold and did not call a roughing the passer on what should have been one. All in all a good game ruined by officiating.

  4. And honestly, Fitzpatrick just missed being 5-1 over those six games. He’s much better than Winston, and gives TB their best shot at a winning season, by far.

  5. First off, throw out this season. Fitz has played relatively well and Winston hasn’t played at all.

    However, if he were truly worth anything, he wouldn’t be on his 7th team.

    And quoting ESPN QBR…are you serious???

  6. ESPN’s QBR is an “advanced stat”?

    They changed their formula multiple times. They’ve never disclosed what their formula is. Charlie Batch once had the greatest single game in history.

    IT’S A GARBAGE STAT

  7. Fitz isn’t consistent. We all know that. But, he certainly is likely a better option right now than Winston. For example, Winston could never get the most out of DeSean Jackson. Because Winston’s deep ball sucked. Fitz isn’t a long term solution but for now, he will do fine. He has a habit of randomly just breaking down mentally I think. Get’s rattled too easily and it then affects his accuracy and decisions.
    I think the Bucs should put Winston on the trade block. Who knows, maybe the Niners would bite.

  8. Perfect example of you can make stats say whatever you want them to say. Conveniently leave out that the Bucs finally got that dummy Koetter to stop calling plays and how noticeable it was even in the pre-season when both played and played well. Even the third stringer looked noticeably better. Last year when Fitzpatrick played with Koetter calling the games, he stunk, and they won two defensive struggles, one with the defense getting like 4 or 5 turnovers and that offense helmed by Fitzpatrick still barely scoring. Apples to apples please. Let’s revisit this in a few weeks after he takes back over, and I hope you heap the same praise on him when he’s lighting it up even better because anyone with eyes can see he’s a better player.

  9. If Winston wasn’t the top pick in the draft or even a first round pick, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He’d be buried on the bench or even cut. The fact that he is still in the conversation to be paid $20M next year is utterly ridiculous.

  10. By the way, also maybe throw in that the Buc running game is still terrible, which is why Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400+ yards. They’re not a run and shoot team that doesn’t want to run the ball. They simply can’t. When your second round RB who is supposed to be a bellcow is a healthy scratch and Peyton Barber is your starter, you still have a lot of issues. One-dimentional teams don’t go too far. Oh, and that defense that lost all of those games while Winston was statistically the second best QB in football after he came back from his injury the end of last year still stinks loudly.

  11. realfootballfan says:
    September 25, 2018 at 11:49 am
    ….this in a few weeks after he takes back over, and I hope you heap the same praise on him when he’s lighting it up even better because anyone with eyes can see he’s a better player.

    ———————————————-
    Man…talk about living in a state of denial….stats are stats dude and the stats say when Fitz is playing the Bucs usually win and when The Crab Leg lifter plays the Bucs usually lose….Fitz- more yds per game, more point per game and most importantly Fitz protects the ball…

  12. Fitzpatrick went 2-1 against terrible teams…

    Winston was robbed of 4 4th quarter leads he gave the team in 2017; that the D or special teams choked away (either kicker misses what would be the game winner; or the offense had to sit on the sideline to watch the other team have the game winning drive). He also hurt his throwing shoulder week 2 of 2017…. but literally no one will talk about that lol.

    After healing fully; Winston finished 2017 as a top 10 QB in every major stat; and had the best preseason stats of any QB in 2018. Every Bucs QB looked great in preseason; as the offense in general executed much better with a new play caller / philosophy. Anyone watching closely shouldn’t be surprised the offense looks good this year – regardless of play caller. OJ Howard/Chris Godwin have taken major steps forward in year 2; to go along with Evans/Djax/Hump/Brate. The O-line has been very solid too.

    But it’s ok – I know the history of this writer and WInston – so this is just par for the course.

    Hate him off the field if you want but to suggest he’s been a terrible QB on the field is objectively stupid compared to all QBs their first few years and their comparative stats/efficiency/wins/etc. It’s hilarious to me to suggest Fitz played better in 2017 as well; if you actually watched the games. Through weeks 1-2 yeah sure he’s outplayed the average Winston game; but you could say that about his week 1-2 performance against any qb lol.

  13. Fitz is a frickin’ blast to watch. He plays for the love of the game…what a concept. I’ve personally NEVER watched a Tampa game until last night! I hope they let the magic continue!!!

  14. I agree that Fitzpatrick is the better QB, but you should also compare the defenses he played against over this 6 games to the defenses Winston played against over his 6 games.

  15. damn it, Jaboo needs to be under center come sunday. thank you fitz for your service. We need our #1 overall pick on the field. Jameis was lighting it up in preseason too.

  16. This one’s a no-brainer…leave “no brains” Winston on the bench or get rid of him. Fitzpatrick is a way better quarterback and human being. Winston should not be the face of any franchise.

  17. It’s probably true that Fitzpatrick gives the Bucs the best option this year. But, you (I’m not a Bucs fan, so I really don’t care what they do) probably have to look longer term.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is a known quantity. A streaking QB who can get hot, maybe lead you to a wild card game, and who will eventually end up walking off the field shaking his head. He will never be a top 5 QB in the league. The chances are virtually nil.

    You can argue Jameis won’t be a top 5 QB in the league, and you may be right, but he’s got a better shot at it than Fitzpatrick does. He was a #1 overall pick who (statistically, at least) has shown improvement in each of his 3 years. He’s still arguably developing and improving. You don’t know what the ceiling is.

    I don’t think you invest in a #1 overall pick and then abandon that experiment before it absolutely SCREAMS bust in order to play a currently hot, streaky journeyman QB. I think if you are interested in the long term success of the Bucs, you have to go back to Jameis and let that thing play out before you have to make big decisions on 5th year contract options.

  18. lordcornelius says:
    September 25, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    Fitzpatrick went 2-1 against terrible teams…

    —————————————–
    Uh, I can only presume the … is the punchline because the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles and the Saints are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination!

  19. @realjr
    Actually.. Your argument is flawed.
    The fact that Fitz has been on 7 teams is because be IS decent and has performed well at least in stretches everywhere he has played.

  20. Jesus, this narrative and comparison is stupid.

    The stats laid out in the article are only valid if they played with the exact same players around them–which, of course, they didn’t. And anyone with knowledge of the Bucs would immediately point out that the Bucs Oline this year is light years beyond anything Jameis had as a starter. Fitz is getting excellent pass protection (as pointed out by Koetter) while Jameis spent 3 years running for his life.

  21. the JameIs Winston supporters are grasping at any air straw they can find.
    the guy is a bad guy, he cant lead men and even his teammates say ‘he sits’
    Kinda funny that some folks on PFT think they know more than coaches and teammates who see the guy every day. IF Winston had been all that, they would have never gotten Fitzpatrick

  22. What’s the deal he almost brought Tampa back last night and you act like he stinks get rid of him. There was a reason for the interceptions and a few was not on him, this guy need to stay and Winston and all he has gotten away with needs to hit the road. Tampa players even seem up with Fitz as QB, down as they were last night and the come back get the blinders off.

  23. doulos31, you are right, however you do NOT yank a QB that has thrown 400+ in every game UNTIL he ends his streaky play. The Bucs could have won that game last night if a play or call went their way. I have watched Tampa a lot because it is the local team and this year’s Bucs look like they are playing harder for Fitz right now than I have seen them try in a few years

  24. Justify your opinion on Jameis by using preseason stats. Lol what a joke! No, there’s only one reason you want Winston to start but you’re too afraid to admit it. Fitz is much better than Winston, in every facet. He even runs better than Winston, so you can’t even say he’s a better athlete.

  25. I find it funny that there as many people as there are defending Winston and saying he’s the better quarterback. Truthfully, the both are not that good cause neither of them is consistent but to hear people defend Winston as if he’s a top 5 quarterback is hilarious.

  26. JW fans have said Winston would do better than Fitz these past 3 games but BUCS fans do not discount W’s inability to read defenses and get the ball out quickly… Reality is W’s likely would have many sacks, fumbles and ints that would have lost the games…

  27. A one-year slightly above average QB rental has to be worth a 3rd or 4th for the 49ers… I’d make a call.

  28. It brings me great pain to say this but I would rather have(and lose with) Dak Prescott than lose with Jameis Winston.

    At least you lose with an ounce of dignity, and the focus is football, not Uber.

  29. PugTheDog says:
    September 25, 2018 at 11:35 am
    Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are quite possibly the two worst top 2 picks. Marcus flies under the radar because he’s boring, but his stats are atrocious.

    ————–

    Actually MMs stats were pretty incredible his first couple years as he looked like a star. Last year he regressed, but there have been many outside, unbiased analysts who’ve gone back over his tapes from last year & said he was much better than his stats would indicate & was 1) incredibly unlucky (like 92% of his interceptable passes were intercepted, the 2nd most was like 60% & average is like 40%) & was forced to try to be perfect by the outdated offense. And this year he’s only been healthy for a half.

    The jury is still out him long term as I am not sure he can stay healthy, but even that appears to be bad luck with a few injuries (he didn’t miss any games in college). The kid can play. If you actually watch him instead of spouting off non-sense from a stat sheet you can tell. Plus, he’s a great leader.

  30. The JameIs Winston supporters are grasping at any air straw they can find. the guy is a bad guy, he cant lead men…

    For the love of literacy, please learn how to use an apostrophe (can’t, not “cant”). Also, the first word of a sentence should be capitalized (The guy, not “the guy”). The pitiful thing is that you had to override your spell check to make these mistakes.

  31. Winston might not be the answer but Fitz threw 3 picks and about another 3 that could have been picks. He’s fools gold for any team that has went with him for any extended period of time.

  32. not sure why people are surprised at fitzpatrick..he does this everywhere he goes..crazy stat: since being drafted in the 7th round by the st. louis rams back in 2005..fitzpatrick has managed to get on the field & play in every single season since, despite being designated a “backup” for a majority of those seasons.

  33. Time for Winston and his continuing string of trouble that follows him everywhere he goes.
    He is a Hoodie that is not going to change. Trade him for whatever the Bucks can get from him. Fitz still has a number of years in him. Get a 2nd and 4th and let Winston be someone else’s problem.

  34. lordcornelius says:
    September 25, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    Fitzpatrick went 2-1 against terrible teams…

    Winston was robbed of 4 4th quarter leads he gave the team in 2017; that the D or special teams choked away (either kicker misses what would be the game winner; or the offense had to sit on the sideline to watch the other team have the game winning drive). He also hurt his throwing shoulder week 2 of 2017…. but literally no one will talk about that lol.

    After healing fully; Winston finished 2017 as a top 10 QB in every major stat; and had the best preseason stats of any QB in 2018. Every Bucs QB looked great in preseason; as the offense in general executed much better with a new play caller / philosophy. Anyone watching closely shouldn’t be surprised the offense looks good this year – regardless of play caller. OJ Howard/Chris Godwin have taken major steps forward in year 2; to go along with Evans/Djax/Hump/Brate. The O-line has been very solid too.

    But it’s ok – I know the history of this writer and WInston – so this is just par for the course.

    Hate him off the field if you want but to suggest he’s been a terrible QB on the field is objectively stupid compared to all QBs their first few years and their comparative stats/efficiency/wins/etc. It’s hilarious to me to suggest Fitz played better in 2017 as well; if you actually watched the games. Through weeks 1-2 yeah sure he’s outplayed the average Winston game; but you could say that about his week 1-2 performance against any qb lol.

    ——

    You said it perfectly, brother.

  35. Not a Winston supporter but if the Buccs think they are going places with Fitzpatrick as their permanent starter then I think they are going to be sorry.
    What will be interesting after the season is where does Winston go?
    Can he resurrect his career?

  36. The Bucs should get whatever they can for Winston. Ride Fitzpatrick this season. Draft a QB with an early pick in 2019 and set the franchise up for success. Think longer term. Sticking with Winston, both for character and performance reasons, is a huge mistake.

  37. Here’s hoping that Fitz has a couple bad games and the morons running the Bucs replace him with Winston. Hopefully this will happen before my Ravens play the Bucs in week 15.

  38. As a QB, Winston really is not bad. I know, I know, he’s not great, but he’s average at least. Not to mention that he’s still young, and has a pretty probably chance of improvement in areas that a vet (a smart vet at that) like Fitzpatrick has learned over the years, like reading coverages.

    All of that said, he is a liability in two major areas, that being off the field issues and his…strangeness. Tampa players of course will play with their QB, and Winston is not bad enough to turn them off completely, but they witness his odd personality first hand everyday. Their willingness to tolerate that should also be a factor in considering Winston’s fit there.

  39. The typical treatment of a high draft choice. If he was a fifth rounder he would be cut. They cannot admit a mistake.

  40. rkt4mayor says:
    September 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm
    lordcornelius says:
    September 25, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    Fitzpatrick went 2-1 against terrible teams…

    —————————————–
    Uh, I can only presume the … is the punchline because the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles and the Saints are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination!
    ——————————————
    He beat the Dolphins and Jets last season.

  41. Trade Winston.
    Needs to be done for a wide variety of reasons.
    Draft a new QB and transition to him over the next 2 years.
    Do it right Bucs.

  42. I think they should use Fitz until he either completely tanks or the Bucs fall out of the playoff hunt. It won’t kill Winston to sit on the bench and learn, it will be humbling for him. Team certainly has weapons on offense.

  43. Fitzpatrick makes a game fun and winnable…I’d like to have him back on the Bills to mentor Allen. He’s a smart guy and a great competitor, and there’ll be no early morning calls that your QB has been arrested 🙂

  44. Mr. Crabs will probably do something stupid and get himself suspended again.

    At least Fitzpatrick doesn’t have any off the field issues. I would imagine that would make his team mates more comfortable having him as the starting QB as opposed to Mr. Crabs. Fitzpatrick is more reliable. Besides, at what point does Tampa realize that Mr. Crabs is more trouble than he is worth.

  45. You must have twisted some stats to fits the argument, because last year as a whole Winston had a better QBR, cmp% and YPA. Those are pretty important stats and I can’t fathom how the lesser of the two gives the team a better chance to win.

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