Nine NFL Teams But Special Bucs Memories

June 4th, 2022

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He witnessed the best and worst of Ryan Fitzpatrick during their two years together in Tampa. The good times are what he’ll remember.

From his home in Boise, Idaho, Dirk Koetter reflected on a seventh-round draft pick out of Harvard who lasted 17 seasons in the NFL before announcing his retirement.

“Every time we’d play against him, I was so impressed with Ryan’s leadership and toughness,” Koetter said. “He’s got such awesome charisma, his teammates love him and he’s smarter than any coach.”

Sad times for Bucs fans, but good memories for some.

Koetter was elated when the Bucs signed Fitzpatrick as a free agent in 2017. He started three games that season, filling in for an injured Jameis Winston.

The following year, Koetter’s last on Tampa Bay’s sidelines, would prove tumultuous.

With Winston suspended three games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, Fitzpatrick opened the 2018 season under center and under duress at New Orleans.

The Saints entered as 10-point favorites and Drew Brees shredded Tampa Bay’s secondary, but Fitzpatrick was even better, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns in a riveting 48-40 triumph.

“I’d like to announce Fitzmagic is alive and well,” Koetter crowed after the game. “I thought Fitz did an awesome job of giving guys chances to make plays,”

One of those guys was DeSean Jackson, who caught five passes for 146 yards and two scores at the Superdome. The previous season, Jackson had failed to establish a consistent rapport with Winston.

“I hope somebody had Fitz in fantasy football because he went crazy today,” said Mike Evans, who had 147 receiving yards. “A phenomenal game — one of the most complete games I’ve seen from a quarterback.”

Jackson hauled in a 75-yard TD throw on the first snap against the Eagles the following week as the Bucs won 27-21 behind Fitzpatrick’s 404 yards and four scoring passes.

“The Super Bowl champs, man,” said Gerald McCoy. “I know it’s not last year, but they’re not a slouch.”

Seeking a 3-0 start, the Bucs dropped a 30-27 decision against Pittsburgh after trailing 30-10 through two quarters. Fitzpatrick was intercepted on three consecutive possessions in the opening half, including a pick-6, but he threw for 411 yards. That record three-game stretch of passing yards got Fitzpatrick’s Bucs jersey in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I’ve seen him as red-hot as any quarterback can be and I’ve seen him ice-cold,” Koetter told me on Saturday.

Koetter stuck with Fitzpatrick the following week at Chicago, but Mitch Trubisky threw six TD passes as the Bears romped 48-10. Coming off suspension, Winston replaced an ineffective Fitzpatrick in the second half.

Winston returned as a starter at Cincinnati but was benched after throwing four picks. The Bengals led 28-10 at the half before Fitzpatrick almost led a sensational comeback, throwing for 194 and two TDs.

“It’s very frustrating,” Winston said, “but it’s not about me. It’s my fault we were in that position.”

Many highs and lows for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ira Kaufman explains.

The quarterback carousel spun again as Fitzpatrick started and threw four TD passes in a 42-28 loss at Carolina. He followed up with a 406-yard effort against Washington in a 16-3 setback as the Bucs were victimized by two interceptions, two fumbles and two missed field goals.

A 38-35 loss against the Giants saw Fitzpatrick benched after throwing three picks as Tampa Bay fell to 3-7.

Rough Bucs Ending; Memorable Overachiever

That shootout marked the end of the Fitzpatrick era in Tampa. He didn’t play in the next four games and was inactive in the final two weeks. His final snap as a Buccaneer was an interception in the Meadowlands on a pass intended for Jackson.

The Dolphins signed Fitzpatrick in 2019 and he ended up starting at least one game for nine different teams. That’s an unprecedented feat since the NFL began play in 1920.

“He’s a stud,” Koetter says. “Every team just assumed he’d be a backup, but Ryan turned out to be the poster boy for every kid out there who didn’t go to a Power 5 school and doesn’t meet the prototypes for height and weight. Ryan Fitzpatrick never got the full due that he should. He played the game the right way.”

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Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

17 Responses to “Nine NFL Teams But Special Bucs Memories”

  1. Cobraboy Says:

    That was a horrible season that started with pure majik.

    I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Fitzpatrick and his amazing games against the Saints and Iggles.

  2. Goatfarmer Says:

    Hindsight is easy. If Fitz didn’t have JaMiss staring over his shoulder, knowing that one misstep and he’d be benched, I would love to rewind the clock and see what it would have been had Fitz known he was the full time starter.

    Mike Big Head Little Heart Smith cost the Bucs both the Steelers game and the Bengals game that year, otherwie those tow would have been legendary Fitz comebacks. Damn.

    I am gonna miss Fitzmagic. Saw him beat Chucky with that ridiculously awesome pass for the Phins as he was getting his head ripped off by the facemask. Too bad he had to ned with the (Commanders).

  3. Iamabuc Says:

    And to think every fan in BucsNation was so pomped up about him, to him ending up being worst than Winston in interceptions…its laughable..🤣

  4. D-Rok Says:

    That presser pic above:
    Reporter: “How many carots are you wearing?”
    Fitz: “It’s very heavy.”

    One of the best pressers I’ve ever heard! Watched it today on Bucs team site, and I was ROFL’ing. Pure magic.

  5. D-Rok Says:

    And the best line:

    “The chest-hair is mine.”

    EPIC!!!! 🙂

  6. Goatfarmer Says:

    Too bad Fitz couldn’t shake the ice cold part of his game. Koetter defined him well. And I suppose Koetter would have stuck with Fitz had other forces not been at work to pressure him to put JaMiss back in there.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m still wondering how you can throw for over 400 yards and only score 3 points.

    Only a Buc team…….Good luck in your retirement…..your $82 mil in career earnings should help.

  8. Crickett Baker Says:

    I was so glad to see him hired as a starter and then he got injured immediately. It was sad, to me. I loved watching him play as you never knew when he would be utterly fantastic or not. He has like a zillion kids..I don’t even know how he played so long. His wife must be a saint.

  9. Bojim Says:

    Always liked Fitz

  10. Goatfarmer Says:

    After the JaMiss uber debacle, the way he started out the 2018 season gave us such hope. Just for that, he deserves legendary love from Buc fans.

  11. Says:

    Thanks for the memories Fitz! The Amish Rifle is the Goat! First Bucs QB in the HOF!

  12. gotbbucs Says:

    I would have loved to see what that 2018 season would have looked like in the end if they would have told Winston to kick rocks and let Fitzmagic play the whole season. He had the whole team behind him and I’m guessing they blew up the locker room when they threw Winston back in there.

    I would love to know who’s decision that was to take the ball out of Fitzpatrick’s hand and let the serial groper have another chance. It had to come from ownership. Only non-football people would be unable to know what kind of earthquake they were going to send through that locker room.

  13. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Fitz McGregor was hillarious.

    Probably the funniest Press Con in the history of the Franchise

  14. Goatfarmer Says:

    I just rewatched the last two games of 2019. Texans, Falcons.

    JaMiss had to be gone — he was horrible, and not thanks to any Arians related stuff, he was missing wide open guys and throwing stupid passes. Toast.

    Hopefully the rhetoric before the next Aints game is how he’s not capable of throwing for 200 yards against the Bucs.

    God he sucked.

  15. Goatfarmer Says:

    Winston is the Mark Dumbernik of quarterbacks.

  16. Infomeplease Says:

    He was fun!

  17. Jim Says:

    Thanks for the memories, Fitz. You were always a class act…