How short is the leash on Ryan Fitzpatrick?

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To little surprise, Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start on Sunday at Chicago. Many will be surprised if Fitzpatrick is yanked during the game.

Maybe they shouldn’t be.

Consider this, from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media: On Wednesday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter openly discussed in a team meeting the fact that he was considering yanking Fitzpatrick during Monday night’s loss to the Steelers. Koetter reportedly said he was a play or two away from removing Fitzpatrick and inserting Ryan Griffin, presumably during a first half that included three straight Fitzpatrick interceptions on three straight plays.

Surprisingly, the team didn’t deny it, instead explaining that Koetter has extreme confidence in all of the team’s quarterbacks.

So what does this mean right now for Fitzpatrick? It likely means that the leash will be very short at Soldier Field, and that Koetter won’t hesitate to flip the switch to Jameis Winston, not just in a given week but in a given game.

Suddenly, then, Koetter has assumed the attitude that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had a year ago with Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, keeping Teddy Bridgewater constantly at the ready in the event Keenum stumbled. (After Keenum’s second interception against Washington, for example, Bridgewater was spotted putting his helmet on.)

The question is whether this tactic will work on Fitzpatrick. During his three-game stint as the starter, he likely assumed he wouldn’t be pulled. (He may have assumed wrong.) Now that Winston is back, will Fitzpatrick say “F” it and let it rip, or will he worry that his next mistake may be his last mistake, causing him possibly to hold the ball a bit longer than he should, thinking a little bit more than is warranted, and possibly setting the stage for the blunder that gets him benched?

Through it all, the question is this: For as good as Fitzpatrick has been, could Winston be as good if not better? There’s only one way to find out, and the challenge for Koetter will be picking the right time to flip the switch.

28 responses to “How short is the leash on Ryan Fitzpatrick?

  1. 3 awesome games,one bad half and they’re thinking of yanking him…..then don’t even deny it. Way to build confidence coach.

  2. I don’t believe Winston would be less turnover prone, so I’d leave it be and not mess with the team chemistry as it seems the team has embraced Fitzpatrick as it’s leader.

  3. He’s okay as long as they don’t play a Sunday Night game, Monday night game, or Thursday night game. Because when the clock strikes at midnight, we all know what happens.

  4. But Jameis Winston was a first round # 1 pick in 2015, I keep getting told that is gold standard of QB’s. So just what has he shown?

  5. Me thinks that most folks didn’t pick up on the underlying point of the article.
    It’s more about keeping 2 QB’s motivated for maximum performance than it is about Fitzpatrick getting benched.

  6. Winston may not be better than what we saw in Fitz the first 2 weeks however neither was any other NFL QB. We know that the real Fitz is closer to what we saw during the first half of the Steelers game.Winston did look better than Fitzpatrick in the preseason playing with the same cast of players around him. Besides that stretch last season when he was playing with an injured shoulder Winston hasn’t been as bad as people are saying here. I get hating the guy as a person (I’m not a fan of the person either), however as a player he’s already broken a lot of team records. If he continues to stop trying to do too much and cut down on the turnovers he will be fine. If Winston was a Mariota type of person this wouldn’t even be a debate.

  7. It’s pretty simple, really: Fitz has the hot hand, so you leave him in.

    But we all know how this story ends; he comes back down to earth with a thud sooner or later and turns in multiple clunkers if you stick with him. He wouldn’t have worn 7 different jerseys in 14 seasons if that weren’t true.

  8. I guess my steelers shoulda benched Big Ben after the Browns game. Or Matt Ryan after Philly. What a mess.

  9. The big picture here is the Bucs have a $20 million dollar decision to make this season and an even a bigger pill to swallow being that Winston was a 1st round pick.

  10. Didn’t you just say last week how the Bucs should make Winston inactive and sign Fitz for next year? Love how you take every side of every position to make yourself feel good when you try and claim I told you so.

  11. This is how bad teams stay bad.

    He should be their starter for the year, period. The day they pull him is the day their season ends.

    Look at how all the best teams handle their QBs. The poor teams never seem to learn.

  12. CheeseisGoodforYou! says:
    September 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

    It’s more about keeping 2 QB’s motivated for maximum performance than it is about Fitzpatrick getting benched.


    What’s the track record of this approach having success, though? Seems to me that excess QB insecurity is like icing the kicker.

  13. Unfortunately, if Dirk Koetter values his job, he’d better find a way to get Shameus back in there.

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