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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Report: Bucs coach was close to benching Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 3

Ryan Fitzpatrick Conor McGregor

Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to make his fourth start of the season when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Chicago Bears Sunday, but it sounds like there’s a good chance it could be his last.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter told the team in a meeting this week he was “one or two plays away” from benching Fitzpatrick when the veteran threw his third interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. Tampa was trailing 23-7 in the second quarter at the time Koetter was considering giving fifth-year pro Ryan Griffin a shot.

Rapoport was told by sources that Koetter’s revelation took some players by surprise and led them to believe Fitzpatrick’s starting job is not safe. Jameis Winston has returned from his three-game suspension for Week 4, and it’s fair to wonder how easily it would be for him to supplant Fitzpatrick if Koetter was considering benching Fitzpatrick for a career backup like Griffin.

Despite the three interceptions against Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick had his third consecutive game with over 400 yards passing and nearly led the Bucs back from a 30-10 halftime deficit. He already has over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdown passes on the season, and Winston is certainly trying to handle the situation with as much class as possible.

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