FitzMagic’s Cautionary Tale

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not your typical journeyman quarterback. He’s currently playing for his 9th team so he definitely checks that box. But his 35,000 passing yards and 223 passing TDs are not numbers you expect from a "journeyman"quarterback. Fitz’s remarkable journey began with the St. Louis Rams. The first time he stepped on the field as a rookie on November 27, 2005 he was faced with a 24-3 halftime deficit. He would throw for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns in the second half to win the game and claim NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. That would be the first of many comebacks, and the first of his many NFC (and AFC) Player of the Week honors. During Fitz’s amazing career he set team passing records for the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins. He also holds 10 NFL passing records. Unusual for a journeyman. Even more fascinating is the fact that, unlike most journeymen QBs Fitz wasn’t brought in to play a back up role. Aside from his two year stint with the Rams, Fitz won the starting job for all 7 of the other teams he played for. Granted the 12 games he started for the Bengals in 2008 was due to an injury to Carson Palmer. Still, he would finish that season as the 3rd highest rushing QB in the NFL. Fitz would move on to Buffalo where he started for 3 and a half years. In 2013 the Bills cleaned house and drafted a QB in the 1st round of the draft. Fitz went to Tennessee where he won the starting job. The following year the Titans owned the 8th overall pick in the draft. They picked a quarterback and Fitz went to Houston. After winning the starting job in Houston Fitz found himself in a familiar situation. Houston took a QB in the 1st round. Fitz went to NY where he won the starting job for the Jets. After 2 years in the Big Apple the Jets took a QB in round 2 of the draft. Fitz moved on to Tampa Bay where he set 5 team passing records and actually beat out the number one pick in the draft (Jameis Winston) for the starting job. But Winston, with his huge contract, was destined to be given another chance to prove himself and Fitz went to Miami. He would beat out another 1st round draft pick (Josh Rosen) for the starting job and on his way to being named team MVP actually led the team in rushing. The following year (last year) Fitz beat out another 1st round draft pick (Tua) for the starting job. And although Tua eventually won back the job - primarily because he was the 5th overall pick in the draft - Fitz outplayed him. In 7 starts Fitz had more passing yards, more passing touchdowns, a higher completion %, and a higher Quarterback Rating. Now Fitz is with Washington. His success in the Nation’s Capital is anyone’s guess. But, if nothing else, he taught us a valuable lesson. One that Ron Rivera seems to have embraced. To wit: drafting a quarterback in the 1st round isn’t always the best way to build a winning team. The1st round quarterbacks drafted to replace Fitz were... EJ Manuel, Jake Locker, Brandon Weeden, and 2nd rounder Christian Hackenburg. It’s worth noting, EVERY time Fitz was given a chance to compete for the starting job he won it. Most recently beating out the 1st overall pick, the 5th overall pick, and the 10th overall pick in their respective drafts. Clearly, this guy is not your run of the mill journeyman quarterback.