The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a tough matchup this Sunday as they travel to Buffalo to face the Bills. Not only have the Bills maintained a stout run defense, but they’re great against the pass too, totaling eight interceptions already on the year. Jameis Winston left last week’s contest early, as he would later be diagnosed with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. Head coach Dirk Koetter has recently come out stating that Jameis Winston is in line to start this Sunday after resting the quarterback through the week. But for a team who’s fighting to reach the playoffs in a difficult Week 7 matchup, is this the correct decision?
Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick came into the game last week to replace Winston and played rather well. He threw for 290 yards, three touchdowns, but also two interceptions. Yet Fitzpatrick kept his team in the game in Arizona until the very end, losing the game 38-33. This week’s game is in Buffalo, where the Bills usually tend to play much better in front of their home crowd. With a defense this dangerous, it may make more sense to have Fitzpatrick start this game for Tampa Bay. He may not have the potential and flashes of talent as Winston, but Fitzpatrick showed last week that he can produce scores for this offense. You don’t want to rush Winston back into this kind of game and risk him re-injuring his shoulder. Let Winston rest another week so that he’s fully healthy for Week 8.
While you know what you’re going to get in Ryan Fitzpatrick, there’s no denying that he has a high football I.Q. He went to the University of Harvard, proving his mental prowess, but he’s also a seasoned veteran in the NFL having seen it all. He’s been a starter in this league multiple times, whether for the New York Jets or the Buffalo Bills. While Jameis Winston is younger, more athletic, and the clear leader of this roster, Fitzpatrick has proved that he can manage a game midseason without it being a guaranteed loss. This is the perfect situation to give your star quarterback Jameis Winston the needed rest in a difficult matchup while still giving yourselves a chance to win the game. With Doug Martin’s productive return, the team could lean on him to drive the ball down the field.
2017 has already been a season riddled with big injuries across the NFL. We’ve seen leaders of teams lose the rest of their season in J.J. Watt and Odell Beckham Jr. But we’ve also seen many quarterbacks taking hits, with none bigger than Aaron Rodgers breaking his collarbone and being done for the year. That single injury changed the entire rest of the season for the Green Bay Packers, showing that you never know what can happen each week. Derek Carr has faced injury, Marcus Mariota was briefly out, and Sam Bradford has been sidelined as well this season. Andrew Luck and Teddy Bridgewater are still looking to make a return to the NFL. Dirk Koetter is the head coach of this football team and knows better than the rest of us on the health of Jameis Winston. If he is truly feeling comfortable and ready to go this Sunday, then fine. But if there’s any doubt, he should be resting his franchise quarterback one more week, as it only takes one hit to completely alter the path of their season.
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