Remember when news of Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension broke and it caused mass panic? Remember when people said the Buccaneers absolutely had to trade for Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater — who is going to New Orleans — or some other backup somewhere in the league because Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin weren’t reliable backup options? Remember when people said that even when Winston returns, Tampa Bay doesn’t have a long-term answer at quarterback because he lacks what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback?
“Well, well, well... How the turntables...” -Michael Scott
Bucs QBs this preseason:— PFF TB Buccaneers (@PFF_Buccaneers) August 28, 2018
Jameis Winston is the highest graded QB in the NFL with a 94.6 grade.
Ryan Griffin is the fifth highest graded QB with an 86.5 grade.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the ninth highest graded QB with an 84.0 grade.#Bucs#PremiumStats 2.0
Sure, you can say that it’s only preseason. But even if it’s “only preseason,” Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks have done a whole lot to quell any worry in the last few weeks. Like Pewter Report’s Trevor Sikkema expertly outlined in his most recent “Cover 3,” what a quarterback does and how a quarterback looks doesn’t have to be judged by the defenses that he is facing. Whether a defense is full of starters, backups or third-stringers doesn’t have much connection, if any, to the field vision, decision-making, arm strength and ball placement that a quarterback puts on display.
If you’re not big into Pro Football Focus’ grading system, watch the film on Winston, Fitzpatrick and Griffin from the last three games. You’ll see big throws, smart decisions and good ball security from all three. With the talent that this team has at the wide receiver and tight end positions, those three things will be enough for the Bucs to field a strong offense.
If you’re just into the basic stats, check those out too:
Winston: 30-of-41 (73.2 percent) for 388 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions
Fitzpatrick: 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) for 183 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions
Griffin: 34-of-48 (70.8 percent) for 367 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions
There’s a reason that Winston was drafted No. 1 overall in 2015 and has set NFL records early in his career. It’s no coincidence that Fitzpatrick is heading into his 14th season in the league. And the Bucs aren’t keeping Griffin on the roster for the fourth straight year just because they feel like it. All three guys are valuable to this team, and for good reason.
This quarterback group has put its full potential on display in the last three weeks. The coaching staff and front office clearly believe in the group they have. After everything we’ve seen, is there any valid reason that the fan base shouldn’t feel the same way?