Ryan Fitzpatrick is 1-0 as a starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He'll put that perfect record on the line next Sunday in Miami.
A day after Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers defeated the New York Jets, 15-10, Head Coach Dirk Koetter confirmed that the veteran quarterback will remain the team's starter for at least another week, based on the continued rest being given to Jameis Winston's throwing shoulder. Last Monday, Koetter announced that Winston would sit out for at least two weeks and then his shoulder would be re-evaluated, at which time the team would determine how best to move forward at the game's most important position.
That plan has not changed. Koetter said that the expectation that Winston would play again in 2017 has not changed at this point.
"Again [the plan was], rest him for two weeks, see where he's at," said Koetter. "[We] talked to multiple doctors and that's what the plan is. There's really nothing to add to that right now. I know Jameis is planning on playing again, and there's been no discussion between [General Manager] Jason [Licht] and myself of him not playing again. So that would all be something that would have to come up in the future."
Since Winston remains unavailable, the Buccaneers' other option at quarterback is third-year player Ryan Griffin, who has not thrown a regular-season NFL pass. Tampa Bay kept Ryan Griffin on its 53-man roster for the entirety of the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the thought that he might succeed Mike Glennon as Winston's primary backup. In fact, Griffin was battling with Fitzpatrick for that job in training camp until he suffered a shoulder injury in the team's second preseason game.
That pushed Griffin to injured reserve, though the Buccaneers used one of their two "designated for return" options on the quarterback and brought him back to the active roster last week, just as Winston was beginning his period of rest. Tampa Bay remains intrigued by Griffin's future and even signed him to a contract extension covering 2018 earlier this season. However, the offense will remain in Fitzpatrick's hands unless and until the right situation develops for Griffin to get a shot.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 10 matchup with the Jets.
"Ryan Fitzpatrick will be our starter this week," said Koetter. "We know that much because Jameis is going to be out again this week. Ryan Griffin will go into the week as a backup. If the opportunity ever presented itself, it would be good while we have this situation to get Ryan Griffin into a game, and he's been doing well at practice. But it would never be just because we want to see him get in a game. It would have to be the right opportunity and we'll have to see if that ever comes up or not."
Obviously, the fact that the Buccaneers won Fitzpatrick's first start adds confidence to the decision to keep him on the field, as does the experience he has gathered over 117 career NFL starts. Fitzpatrick completed 17 of 34 passes for 187 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Jets. Koetter called Fitzpatrick a "get-it-done" kind of player after Sunday's win and explained how the quarterback's many years in the league helped during a close game.
"Well, it's a team game," said Koetter. "He's got a lot of experience, he knows to not panic when everything's not perfect and I doubt if Ryan has had a whole bunch of perfect games in his career. But, I think Ryan just hung in there. Ryan is just real even-keeled. He came off, whether it be after that one sack we gave up or after the interception or after a couple untimely three-and-outs, he's the same guy. I think that's important, but it's hard to win a game in the NFL with your number-two quarterback."