The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still playing it coy (publicly, at least) regarding their starting quarterback situation, but as has been the case all week, the expectation is that Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting the nod over Jameis Winston.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Fitzpatrick will start Sunday’s Week 4 game against the Chicago Bears as the Bucs have chosen to continue to ride the hot hand of the league’s passing yards leader.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a shocker if Winston played at some point – especially if Fitzpatrick shows signs of slowing down at some point.
In fact, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports that Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter told his team that he was a few plays away from benching Fitzpatrick after a first half in which he threw three interceptions in favor of backup Ryan Griffin. Rapaport indicates Fitzpatrick could be on a short leash, as Koetter has essentially paved the way for Winston’s return at a moment’s notice:
From @NFLGameDay: A look at how short QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's leash is, as coach Dirk Koetter told his team this week he almost went to his backup QB against the #Steelers. As Jameis Winston returns… pic.twitter.com/jDvtJBcKSC
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2018
Even though Winston could be called upon at the drop of a hat, let’s not lose sight of how well Fitzpatrick performed when his back was against the wall on Monday Night Football. Because when the Fitzmagic act seemed to be up last week, that’s when he really turned it loose as he finished the night with 411 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The Bears are certainly a defense who could force Fitzpatrick into making some errors, even if he’ll be throwing against a depleted secondary. But if (or when) Fitzpatrick falters, his backup this week will be a talented former No. 1 overall pick who will be motivated to take his job back.