When the Buccaneers took the field for their first official training camp practice on Thursday morning, it was obvious that there won’t be a quarterback controversy while Jameis Winston sits out for the first three games of the season.
35-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, as expected, got reps with the first team offense. Ryan Griffin, who has yet to see action in an NFL regular season game, got work with the second team. Winston, who can practice and play in the preseason before his suspension kicks in, mixed in with all three groups. After practice, head coach Dirk Koetter gave a very straightforward assessment of the quarterback situation, saying that Fitzpatrick will start and it would take “something that I can’t foresee right now” for Griffin to unseat him.
Ever since the re-signing of Fitzpatrick, it was assumed that he would be the No. 2 behind Winston. Even still, there has been questions, at least among the fan base, about Griffin potentially taking that role if he has a strong preseason. Koetter shot that down, but was very complimentary of the 28-year-old:
“We think Ryan Griffin has a lot of upside. I can’t prove it, other than what I see in practice and what I hear in meeting rooms... in preseason, he’ll get a chance to show himself.”
Griffin seemed to have a chance at winning the backup job during the 2017 preseason before going down with a shoulder injury. Koetter referred to him as a “veteran quarterback” on Thursday, which seems strange for someone who hasn’t taken a snap in the regular season. But it does make sense, considering the Tulane product has spent the last three seasons with the Bucs, all under the offensive direction of Koetter.
Despite it already seeming like a foregone conclusion prior to Thursday, it was significant for Koetter to get this out of the way early. It’s already complicated enough to figure out how to split first team reps between two quarterbacks, so not having to entertain the idea of a third is a positive. Plus, it knocks out any possible distractions that can come with a quarterback controversy. The Bucs certainly have plenty of distractions to worry about already.