Ryan Fitzpatrick Talks Leaders, Newcomers, How He “Tried Not To Cry,” And T.O.

June 11th, 2018

BY IRA KAUFMAN

Ryan Fitzpatrick knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two.

Thirteen seasons in the NFL has taught Tampa Bay’s backup quarterback not to get too excited about underwear football, but Fitzpatrick has already seen enough at One Buc Place to get his adrenaline flowing about the 2018 season.

“We’re excited,” says Fitzpatrick, who went 2-1 while filling in for an injured Jameis Winston last year. “It’s been a great offseason so far. Every year, the more guys that you can keep together, the more you can advance on what you’re trying to do on offense. Chemistry continues to get better. I know one thing — I like the guys in this locker room.”

A 5-11 season usually triggers sweeping changes, and the 2018 Bucs are no exception. Five new defensive linemen will be scrutinized by new position coach Brentson Buckner during training camp and Ryan Jensen represents a badass addition as the new anchor of the offensive line.

Fitzpatrick, who turns 36 this fall, has been through the grind with seven NFL franchises. He has experienced both failure and success at the pro level and he knows the difference that new players can make … if they are the right players.

“It’s hard to see until you throw the pads on, but I’m sure it’ll be apparent in training camp that we’ve improved our roster,” he says. “Ryan Jensen has a real veteran presence and he’ll bring a lot of grit up front. Getting to know Vinny Curry and Beau Allen a little bit, those are two guys you want on your team.”

Although Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t make his towering presence felt on the field during OTA sessions, he’s got nothing to prove to Fitzpatrick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

“I played against JPP in one of his first games with that cast on,” says Fitzpatrick, who was sacked only seven times last year in 163 pass attempts. “He hit me so hard with that cast. It hurt so bad and I tried not to cry. He’s such an explosive guy off the edge. As an offensive guy, he’s somebody you have to account for on every snap because he’s a disruptive presence.”

Speaking of disruption, those Hard Knocks cameras won’t be rolling at One Buc Place this summer. This football team is off the national grid, so Fitzpatrick is curious to see how the Bucs respond to a diminished profile and a daunting early slate.

“I don’t know that it really matters that much,” he says. “We have a good focus here right now. If we are going to be the team we think we can be, it doesn’t matter who is on the schedule.”

Total Investment

Part of Fitzpatrick’s role is to serve as a mentor to Winston, who enters his fourth pro season with an 18-27 record. While Winston awaits the results of a league investigation, Fitzpatrick continues to marvel at his teammate’s fierce dedication to both the job and the community.

“Jameis is a great teammate and a great leader,” Fitzpatrick says. “He’s been here the whole offseason, doing the things he always does. I still can’t beat him to the parking lot in the morning. Last weekend, his camp was unbelievable. I don’t know that he gets enough publicity for some of that stuff. There were 300 kids there and Jameis is 100 percent invested and present in that camp. It’s really something to see.”

On the subject of outstanding work ethic, Fitzpatrick has nothing but praise for former Buffalo teammate Terrell Owens, who just announced he won’t be in Canton for his August induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“We had a good rapport and I consider T.O. a great teammate,” says Fitzpatrick. “When he came to Buffalo, he had been in hot water a little bit. But he still had a lot of juice and I was impressed with the way he worked and grinded every rep at practice. When all is said and done, I think he’ll show up in Canton.”

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

9 Responses to “Ryan Fitzpatrick Talks Leaders, Newcomers, How He “Tried Not To Cry,” And T.O.”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Great piece Ira, as always. Far as I’m concerned, Bucs have the best backup QB in the NFL in Fitz. If Goodell does end up suspending Jameis (which I hope he doesn’t), I’m confident the Bucs will still be very competitive with Fitz at the controls.

  2. Buc50 Says:

    I hope TO makes to the HOF ceremony. Total crap as to why certain players got in ahead of him. Yes he was look at me player and yes he had too many drops, but he was a total baller.

  3. 99.97.92.55.47.40.28.20.7 Says:

    We have a top 10 QB on our roster.
    #FreeTheAmishRifle
    GO BUCS!!!

  4. ben Says:

    Fitz has a better winning % then Winston..I know, go ahead and make your excuses. ;>))

  5. 813bucboi Says:

    DR

    i’ll take foles over fitz…..lol….
    ***************************************************************
    I know one thing — I like the guys in this locker room……heard that before……

    If we are going to be the team we think we can be, it doesn’t matter who is on the schedule.”…….heard it from the horses mouth…..SOS is not an excuse….

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!…#PRESSURESONTHECOACHES!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  6. Mike Johnson Says:

    Always have like the way Fitz expresses himself. He should write a book once his playing days are over.

  7. Seminole Bill Says:

    I fear Fitz may be the starting QB come the first regular season game. Nothing against Fitz but we do need Jameis’ youth on the field.

  8. Pickgrin Says:

    I wanted Fitz before we even signed him last year.

    Definitely a top 5 backup QB in the NFL IMO.

    If Fitz is your starter with lesser talent behind – then your QB situation is dismal.

    But as a backup – Fitzy has enormous value.

    Most importantly – He’s still good enough on the field to win you some games in relief of a starter that can’t go.

    No other backup QB in the league has as much in-game NFL experience.

    That experience combined with one of the best minds you will find anywhere (Harvard grad – had 2nd highest wonderlic score in NFL history) – along with being a likeable guy and good team player – makes Ryan Fitzpatrick the perfect backup QB for this team as long as he is here.

    I have no doubt that Fitz is good for Jameis. That he is a very good mentor for Jameis. In fact – I think one of the reasons Winston played so well coming back from the shoulder injury was because he sat and watched Fitz lead his own team successfully for 3 weeks. He watched how Fitz stayed cool in the pocket and under pressure. Went through his reads patiently. Threw the ball away when appropriate. Took off running or scrambled to buy time when appropriate.

    Fitz wasn’t great – but he was good the 3 1/2 games he started in 2017 (actually he was pretty great the 2nd half of the AZ game vs prevent defense).

    Winston got to watch an experienced QB operate his offense – with a calmness and coolness level about him under fire that young Jameis has yet to master. The game “slowed down” for Fitzy a long time ago and it was very good for Winston to sit and watch Ryan for those 3 games last year while his injured shoulder recovered. Jameis played much more effectively and made mostly good decisions with all of his throws after he came back to the field from injury.

    On a related note – I’m very glad Glennon got wooed away by the Bears and big $ for the 1 year.

    The word was that we had offered MG8 like $7M+ for a multi year deal to be backup. SMH.

    Fitz is playing for half that and is better than Glennon IMO.

    Certainly better for Jameis’ development than Glennon…

  9. BoJim Says:

    If we gotta go with a backup I think Fitz is the guy you want.

 

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