It has been assumed with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston suspended at the beginning of the upcoming season that the team would turn to 14 year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to become their starter. However, there’s another “Ryan,” that is younger and the Buccaneers have consistently believed could be a go to QB.
Ryan Griffin, who is entering his fifth NFL season and fourth with the Buccaneers, is that “Ryan.”
The question is: even though he has little regular season experience, can he become a viable option to start games in Tampa Bay? And a big part of that will be determined by how he plays, especially in preseason games in August.
Now, it’s understood that Fitzpatrick, who will be 36 in November, is the guy who most would say should stand in for Winston. After all, he’s started 119 games in 13 seasons, including a 2-1 record a year ago for Tampa Bay.
That’s when he sub-started for Jameis Winston, who was nursing an injured shoulder. And, he played solidly in two victories over the Jets and Dolphins with three TDs and an INT.
Back to Griffin, he’s been in coach Dirk Koetter’s system for the previous three years (including the 2015 year when Koetter was the offensive coordinator). So, he has familiarity with the offense.
And, the Bucs intended to give him a good look last August.
That is until Griffin (shown above) was injured almost immediately during in the preseason opener in Cincinnati with a hit after he released the ball. He suffered a severe enough shoulder separation that he did not return to health until after the first month of the regular season.
Yet, the Bucs management, including GM Jason Licht, believed so strongly in Griffin’s future, etc., that they were willing to keep him on the active 53 roster the entire time. This is opposed to an injury settlement (where they couldn’t have brought him back) or putting him on “designated to return” IR (where he could come back after eight games).
Therefore, Griffin, who hasn’t taken a snap in a regular season game since 2014, is still around and available, and someone who they are hoping can be a starter in the NFL.
So, with all of the above laid out, the Buccaneers will obviously outwardly project that the veteran Fitzpatrick is their starter and gives them the best chance to win regular season games.
However, they would like nothing better than for Griffin to excel this July and during his playing time in preseason games, and challenge the veteran to be the week one starter. Granted, that’s on the road in a hostile dome in New Orleans, and Fitzpatrick seems better suited to handle it.
Yet, Griffin already would have to be ready to play on a moment’s notice in the event something happens to Fitzpatrick health-wise in camp, or preseason or most importantly, during that opening game.
The Bucs think headed into July that he is going to be ready for duty, if called upon.
But, will Griffin and his play, make him much more than that?
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