‘Fitz-magic’ might help Bucs survive brutal opening stretch

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers practiced all summer with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback and offensive coordinator Todd Monken calling plays. The plan was to give Fitzpatrick as many first-team reps as they could to prepare for starter Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension, and for coach Dirk Koetter, who has always called plays, to have a second set of eyes with Monken while allowing him to gain experience.

Except Monken wasn’t supposed to call plays during the regular season, until Koetter quietly made the decision this week to hand over the reins. And the 35-year-old Fitzpatrick, making his 120th start Sunday for his seventh different team, wasn’t supposed to be this good. When most assumed it would take a Herculean effort from the defense to top Drew Brees & Co., Fitzpatrick dazzled, making clutch throws to a bevy of receivers for one of the best offensive outings in franchise history in a 48-40 win.nike nfl

“That [was] a huge way to start our season. I don’t think anyone in here was picking us. [I mean], are you kidding me?”7

Added wide receiver Mike Evans: “That’s how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be. … We know what we are capable of. We don’t really care what the outside thinks.”cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Just how good was Fitzpatrick? The Bucs’ 48 points matched a franchise high, with 41 coming from the offense. Their 529 total yards were also their second most in a game, behind the 573 they had against the Minnesota Vikings in 1980.

Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 28 passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for a fifth score. On the Bucs’ opening possession, he heaved a 58-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, who went completely unaccounted for when lining up in the slot (Jackson typically lines up on the outside). Fitzpatrick then tucked the ball and ran in a touchdown on the outside, slamming his head into safety Marcus Williams to cross the goal line.