DeSean Jackson Wants Bucs to Ride 'On Fire' QB Fitzpatrick, 'It's Like NBA Jam'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2018

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) celebrates with wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) after Jackson's touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson believes the Bucs should stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback despite Jameis Winston's eligibility to return from suspension after Week 3.

When asked about the quarterback situation Monday on NFL Network (h/t ESPN.com's Jenna Laine), Jackson gave Fitzpatrick a glowing endorsement:

"He's been playing on fire right now. With the way the team is rallying behind him and just playing lights-out football, you have to kind of honor it. You know what I'm saying? You can't take the hot man out. You got the hot fire right now. It's like 'NBA Jam.' We used to play 'NBA Jam'—whoever's got that hot fire shot, you got to keep shooting, man."

Fitzpatrick has the Buccaneers off to a 2-0 start, and he leads the NFL in passing yards with 819 to go along with eight touchdowns and just one interception.

The 35-year-old veteran has also completed 78.7 percent of his passes, and he has a rushing touchdown to his credit.

After helping the Bucs upset the New Orleans Saints, 48-40, on the road in Week 1, Fitzpatrick took down the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, 27-21, in Week 2.

Jackson has been the biggest beneficiary of Fitzpatrick's success with nine receptions for an NFL-leading 275 yards and three touchdowns in two games.

While Jackson made his feelings known, he's putting his trust in head coach Dirk Koetter and the rest of the staff to make the right decision: "He's putting on a show. It's not my decision but I'm sure Dirk and [offensive coordinator Todd] Monken and the guys that make those calls, they'll make sure they stay on-fire until that fire is out."

Fitzpatrick is the definition of a journeyman, as he has suited up for seven different teams in 14 NFL seasons.

The Harvard graduate has extensive starting experience, and he owns a career regular-season record of 50-70-1 as a starter.

Fitz threw for 71 touchdowns in a three-year stretch as the Buffalo Bills' starter from 2010-2012, but his most productive campaign came just a few years ago as a member of the New York Jets in 2015.

That season, Fitzpatrick set career highs with 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns, but he also threw 15 interceptions.

Fitzpatrick has yet to show that he can be a successful long-term starter, and he may not have much of a leash because of the investment the Bucs made in Winston.

Tampa selected Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, and he is already a one-time Pro Bowler.

His results have been somewhat mixed, though, with an 18-27 record as a starter to go along with 11,636 passing yards, 69 passing touchdowns, 44 interceptions and eight rushing touchdowns.

In 13 starts last season, Winston threw for 3,504 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Little was expected of the Buccaneers entering the 2018 season, but Fitzpatrick has helped raise the bar, and another big performance in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers could force the coaching staff's hand into keeping him installed as the starter.


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