Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week Two following his superb performance in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 27-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He is the first Buccaneer to win the award since…Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week One.
Fitzpatrick has been pretty close to perfect through the first two weeks of the 2018 season, at least statistically. In fact, if his on-target pass to O.J. Howard had not been deflected into a quirky interception against Philadelphia on Sunday, he would have a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the season. As such, it has been close to impossible for any other offensive player in the NFC to come home with a PoTW award. Fitzpatrick is the first Buccaneer ever to win the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award in consecutive weeks.
Fitzpatrick was selected again after completing 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in Sunday's victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. He compiled a 144.4 passer rating and led the Buccaneers to their first 2-0 start since 2010. In the process, he became the first quarterback in franchise history to have two touchdown passes of 75 or more yards in the same game. He struck from that exact distance on the first play of the game to DeSean Jackson, then later fired a pass over the middle that Howard took down the field for another 75-yard score.
Fitzpatrick completed 81.8% of his passes against the Eagles, the fifth-highest single-game mark in team history and the best of his 14-year career. He also averaged 12.2 yards per pass attempt, the seventh-best mark in franchise annals and the third-best of his career. His 14.9 yards per pass attempt in a season-opening win over New Orleans stands as both his best and a single-game Buccaneer record.
Through two games, Fitzpatrick leads the NFL in passing yards (819) and passer rating (151.5). His eight touchdown passes rank second behind the 10 thrown by Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes.
Fitzpatrick has now won a Player of the Week award seven times in his career, including one with the St. Louis Rams in 2015. The other six have all come since the start of the 2014 season, including four in the AFC – Week 13 in 2014 with Houston, Weeks 14 and 16 in 2015 with the Jets and Week Two in 2016 with the Jets.
As Head Coach Dirk Koetter noted on Monday, Fitzpatrick is not new to big games.
"He's doing everything you want your quarterback to do and he's done it before," said Koetter. "He's done this. I thought that was an interesting stat that I didn't know last week when he got NFC Offensive Player of the Week – they said it was his sixth time in his career. The guy's played good football and then just listen to what he says. He's on a team that has good players around him and we're protecting him [well]."
Indeed, only two players have won any sort of Player of the Week award in either conference – Offensive, Defensive or Special Teams – more often than Fitzpatrick in the last five seasons. Both are quarterbacks, as Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has been selected eight times in that span and Carolina's Cam Newton has taken home seven awards. Fitzpatrick has now tied New England's Tom Brady and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger for third on that list.
As a team, the Buccaneers have been on a roll with this particular award, having taken it home in three straight regular-season weeks. Then-rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin was the recipient after Week 17 of last season thanks to his game-winning touchdown catch against New Orleans on the Bucs' final offensive play of the season. Tampa Bay has never before won three straight PoTW awards on offense, though it has done it once on defense. Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Warren Sapp took that award home in the first three weeks of the 2000 campaign.