With training camp beginning this week, there is a huge question surrounding Tampa Bay that has yet to be answered. How many snaps will Ryan Fitzpatrick take with the first team offense? It isn’t just about game reps, but it is also about practice reps, which in the preseason are crucial.
It’s not like Ryan Fitzpatrick will be facing teams who are projected to be bottom feeders. He will be facing the defending NFC South Champion Saints, the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers who are favored to reach another AFC Championship game. Not only does the team have to be sharp, but Fitzpatrick has to be in sync and on the same page with every receiver.
There is simply no room for error when facing these types of teams, which is why I believe Fitzpatrick should be taking about 80-85% of the first team reps in practice. With that being said, Jameis Winston should not see a single snap with the first team offense during any of the team’s preseason games. You can give Winston some opportunities with the first team during practice, but the games should be all Fitz. Basically, Fitzpatrick needs to be treated like the team’s full-time starter during all of training camp.
Time is simply too valuable during the preseason, and you cannot waste it by giving Winston first team reps, when he won’t be seeing the field until at least week four. Of course, the team should want to keep Winston sharp, but that can’t be a main concern during training camp. They have to focus on the first three games and Fitzpatrick will be the guy during that span, so most of the attention should go to him.
Fitzpatrick, who went 2-1 last year as a starter, showed some positive signs in terms of being on the same page with his receivers last season. As a savvy veteran, you’d expect Fitzpatrick to be ready at all costs for that week one matchup.
The Buccaneers and Fitzpatrick must find a way to win one of those first three games. Otherwise, the season may be over before October even hits.