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Facing Jets means 'a little bit extra' for Bucs' Fitzpatrick

Facing Jets means 'a little bit extra' for Bucs' Fitzpatrick”

Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, explains why this is the toughest season of his 12-year National Football League career, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 at the Jets' practice facility in Florham Park.

The Jets easily parted ways with him at the end of last season and of course, Fitzpatrick being the veteran quarterback that he is, easily found another backup job this past offseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston won't be on the field for at least a couple of weeks. Winston is dealing with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. And it's remarkable because Fitzpatrick always seems to get an opportunity, no matter who the quarterback is in front of him.

As luck would have it, Fitzpatrick will be facing the team he played for in 2015 and 2016. Well, until teammate IK Enemkpali punched Geno Smith in the face, breaking his jaw and giving Fitzpatrick the spot at the top of the depth chart. We all know what happens next.

He had a career season in 2015, passing for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns. The Jets lead the all-time series 10-1 with the Bucs, including wins in each of the last eight matchups.

But the FitzMagic quickly turned FitzTragic. Now, who expected to the Jets to be in the position to be 5-5 and in the playoff hunt going into their bye next week?

The Jets played one of their best and most complete game of the season last week in a huge win over the Buffalo Bills.

Jets coach Todd Bowles downplayed the significance of playing Fitzpatrick.

"It was a tough situation for me", Fitzpatrick said.

What should tilt the game even more in the Jets' favor is that the best receiver on the Bucs, Mike Evans, won't be playing in it after being suspended for a cheap shot he took on Marshon Lattimore last week.

From holding out for a bigger contract to completely stinking it up on offense, the Fitzpatrick saga ended bad and well, both sides have moved on.

Fitzpatrick has not started a game this season until now.

Before coming over to Tampa, Fitzpatrick spent two seasons as a starter for the Jets, in which he threw for 43 touchdowns against 32 interceptions. And when he was benched after the Jets' 1-6 start previous year, he called out the coaching staff and management. "My boys are at the age where they can really understand it and get it so that definitely played into it a little bit as well, but when I played in the Arizona game this year, which was my first action as a Buc, playing in the second half, I really had a lot of fun out there and happy with the decision that I made to come back". He's familiar with us as well as we are familiar with him. This is great because, although Winston wasn't having an incredible year, he's certainly consistently better than Fitzpatrick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick's been there and done that. Even past year, when Fitzpatrick was benched for the final four games in favor of Bryce Petty, Petty lasted only two and a half games before he got hurt and Fitzpatrick had to come in and finish the season. Now, it's a reality.



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