When you have a young, up-and-coming quarterback, the best thing you can get him is an experienced backup or quarterback’s coach. Not all teams have a quarterback’s coach, but since you are putting the fate of your franchise on one young man’s shoulders, you really should give him an experienced confidant to help with the burden. If not a QB coach, then a veteran backup who has been through the grind but isn’t looking to take over the starting job. A mentor.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going into their third season with Jamis Winston having just lost their back-up Mike Glennon to the Chicago Bears. The Bucs have waited until now to address the position, but they did so in a very smart way. They signed 34-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played 12 seasons for six different teams — the Bucs will be number seven.
Fitzpatrick is coming off of two seasons with the New York Jets, where one was his career best and the other was disappointing. He has 116 starts under his belt for the Jets, Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans and Texans. If he gets on the field with the Bucs, he’ll be the 6th QB in NFL history to throw a pass for seven teams. Jeff Blake, Steve Bono, Chris Chandler, Gus Frerotte and Vinny Testaverde are the others.
Fitzpatrick brings to the Bucs the experience of having been through triumphs and adversity. Bad things happen to all NFL players, and the key is how you shake it off and move forward. The key to being a good quarterback isn’t avoiding games where you through six interceptions (as Fitzpatrick did against Kansas City week three last year), but rather how you react after.
Tampa Bay is a young team with a young quarterback. They have a QB coach in Mike Bajakian, who is very experienced as a coach, but not as an NFL-level quarterback. Giving Winston an experienced mentor without making him look over his shoulder is the best way to help him blossom into the best player he can be. Fitzpatrick admitted after last season that his days as a starter are likely over. By accepting the job, Fitzpatrick understands that short of injury, his job is now is as much about teaching and guiding as it is actually playing.
Injury is what got him the starting gig in New York in 2015 after a teammate broke starter Geno Smith‘s jaw in the locker room. Fitzpatrick took the team to a 10-6 record and threw 31 touchdowns, a franchise record. The following year he threw 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions as the Jets fell to 11-5. For his career, Fitzpatrick is 46-69-1 with 166 touchdowns, 133 interceptions and 25,888 total yards.