Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting quarterback for at least one more week, putting his 2-0 record on the line next Sunday in Atlanta.
Jameis Winston, who started the first eight games of the season, has sat out the last two weeks in order to rest a throwing shoulder he first injured in Week Six at Arizona and then again in Week Nine at New Orleans. After the Saints game, the Buccaneers announced that they would rest Winston for two weeks and then evaluate his shoulder to determine if he was ready to return.
As such, Tampa Bay's medical staff examined Winston on Monday morning and determined that he was not ready to begin throwing again. That means Fitzpatrick remains at the helm of the offense, with third-year man Ryan Griffin backing him up.
"Jameis will be out this week and [will be] re-evaluated next Monday," said Head Coach Dirk Koetter at his day-after-game press conference.
Tampa Bay has defeated the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins with Fitzpatrick under center, mounting its first two-game winning streak of the season. The Buccaneers valued Fitzpatrick's experience when they signed him in the offseason to compete with Griffin for the primary backup spot to Winston, noting his 12 years in the league and 116 career starts. Koetter is not surprised that the Bucs' offense has continued to produce with Fitzpatrick on the field.
"Ryan has done exactly what I thought he would do, but I can understand why other people who haven't seen him in practice would not necessarily expect that," said Koetter. "He's playing how I thought he would play."
The Buccaneers' win over the Jets was largely a defensive struggle, but Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 30-20 downing of the Dolphins. Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over, and Tampa Bay's eventual plus-five advantage in turnover ratio was the winning edge. Though the offense bogged down for much of the second half after the Bucs built a 20-7 lead, the game's final drive was a thing of beauty, with Fitzpatrick completing three of five passes for 55 yards.
"He made really good decisions," said Koetter of Fitzpatrick's second Buccaneer start. "We didn't turn the ball over. We say every week in our meetings, 'If we don't turn it over we've got a great chance to win. Not only did we not turn it over, we were plus-five. It starts with that. He made really good decisions. Sixty-percent completion [rate], but then you factor out a couple of drops [and] I think four throw-aways.
"No matter how much of a veteran quarterback you are, throwing the ball away when the play is not there is still, to this day, one of the hardest things to get a quarterback to do, and Ryan did a good job of that. He also scrambled a couple times and made [plays]. One time he scrambled and got a first down running it, and on that very last drive, the [pass] to Godwin on our sideline, he scrambled maybe before he really needed to, but still that was a nice play to get that drive going."