Saying Goodbye to FitzMagic

Ryan Fitzpatrick. Photo by Steve Roberts/Cal Sport Media/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

It didn’t last long, but it sure was fun.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that Jameis Winston is taking over as the team’s starting quarterback after the Week 5 bye which means that Ryan Fitzpatrick is back to being a backup. FitzMagic is officially gone.

Considered a journeyman and capable NFL backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick received a surprising chance to be a starter for Buccaneers when the Jameis Winston was handed a three-game suspension at the beginning of 2018 NFL season. Bucs were hoping that Fitzpatrick will at least make them stay competitive in games Winston is absent, but the 35-year-old did much more.

When Fitzpatrick passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1 win against New Orleans Saints, it was a welcoming surprise, but many people thought it was an aberration. Then he added 402 yards and four touchdowns in Week 3 win against reigning Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles, while almost orchestrating a comeback against Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 when he threw for 411 yards and three touchdowns. This tremendous stretch even got its own nickname; FitzMagic.

It was hard not to get caught up in the FitzMagic. It was a perfect underdog story about an aging veteran quarterback who comes to a team in the time of need and starts playing beyond everyone’s wildest expectations.

We didn’t care that analysts warned us that Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t keep such high playing level. And we didn’t care that he was known for occasional flashes of brilliance followed by long stretches of terrible playmaking. Like when he followed 5-2 start with Buffalo Bills in 2011 with a 1-8 finish. We hoped it would be different this time. That it will last longer. It wasn’t. It didn’t.

After captivating the attention of NFL fans all around the world for three weeks, FitzMagic suddenly ran out in the first half of Week 4 game against the Chicago Bears.

In that game, Fitzpatrick couldn’t find the inspiration as he did in previous three games. He completed just nine out of 18 passes for 126 yards, throwing one interception and couldn’t reach the end zone in two-quarters of play. Bucs were losing 3-38, and coach Dirk Koetter responded by benching Fitzpatrick and starting Jameis Winston in the second half.

You could even argue that Ryan Fitzpatrick set standards for himself in the first three games that were too high and that is what eventually got him to the bench. Bucs awful first half shouldn’t even be attributed to Fitzpatrick alone since the entire team was playing terribly.

But, on the other hand, there is a feeling that Koetter couldn’t wait to insert Winston back into the starting lineup. Winston is the future of the franchise and as such can’t be relegated to the bench in favor of a veteran that has a proven record of failures.

Maybe this first half against Bears was an aberration, and Fitzpatrick would wow us in the second half, and FitzMagic would go on in Week 5. Guess we’ll never know.