The Legend of Fitzmagic Continues in Washington…
By: Adam Hulse (Twitter: @AdamHulseSports)
After two successful years with the Miami Dolphins, the man they call Fitzmagic hit the free agent market once again. He received interest from several different teams, but the 38 year old quarterback out of Harvard decided to sign a one year contract with the Washington Football Team. He did not join his now ninth different NFL team to just be a back up, but instead he has every intention of winning the job and being the starter for week one of the upcoming season. Here are three reasons why that is exactly what will happen.
Playing Better Than Ever
His game has showed no signs of declining in recent years. In fact, it could be argued that he is even better now than he ever was. The “prime” of his career and also where he spent the longest stretch of his career was with the Buffalo Bills. He started 53 total games for the Bills over 4 seasons between 2009 and 2012 where he accumulated over 11000 passing yards and threw 80 touchdowns. Over these last two years in Miami, he started 20 total games and threw for over 5500 yards and 33 touchdowns. Though a smaller sample size of course, his per game averages break down to being more productive as a Dolphin.
The one major negative to his gun slinger style of play is that he does throw a good amount of interceptions. In his defense, his interception rate has improved over time and, most importantly, it did not stop him from winning games in Miami last season. He was one of the main reasons why the Dolphins were so competitive last year and almost even made the playoffs. In addition to just the statistics, he is an excellent leader and a very well respected veteran in the locker room, as demonstrated by his efforts to lift a young and rebuilding team to far exceed their expectations last season.
Ready to Win Now
After an encouraging 2020 campaign where they won the NFC East division and made the playoffs, head coach Ron Rivera and the rest of the Washington organization believe this team is built to be a true contender this year. Their defense is already one of the best in the league, fueled by a dominant front seven and a fierce pass rush lead by Chase Young and Montez Sweat. It is a defense that is more than capable of keeping Washington in every game, and a shot to win whenever the offense performs along with them.
The offense has a very young and solid core, lead by a promising running back in Antonio Gibson, a rising star wide receiver in Terry McClaurin, a reliable tight end in Logan Thomas, and a newly acquired weapon in Curtis Samuel. The only thing missing here to complete the team, and it’s a very big missing thing, is the answer at quarterback. This is where Fitzmagic comes in. He was able to perform, and win, with less weapons on offense last year in Miami, so logic would say he should be even better in Washington this year, if he can win the starting job.
The quarterback position was basically a disaster for Washington last season. Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins got the majority of playing time, but neither of them were particularly good and both threw more interceptions than they did touchdowns. The unimpressive performances resulted in both of them being released, leaving Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke as the other two remaining quarterbacks on the roster. Allen appears to be nothing more than a backup, while Heinicke is the big unknown in this equation. He has very little experience in his NFL career but he did start a playoff game last year where his dual threat talent was on display against a very tough Tampa Bay Bucs defense.
Heinicke and Fitzpatrick will both be fighting for the starting quarterback job this offseason. Though Heinicke is younger and more athletic, he does not have anything that compares to the proven leadership and ability to win that Fitzpatrick has. With Washington being a team that is looking to get back to the playoffs this year, and hopes of advancing even further than they did last year, Fitzpatrick has a clear edge to beat out Heinicke for the job as long he looks himself in camp, because they have a much better idea of what they are getting with the veteran.
It appears to be his job to lose, and Heinicke would have to do something really special in camp to take it from him. While that is still a possibility, it’s unlikely that Washington would have signed Fitzpatrick in the first place if they didn’t believe he would come in and win the job. He has said he wants to be on a team where he can be the starter, and it looks like he may have found that in Washington.