‘FitzMagic’ part 9: Fitzpatrick takes reins as Washington QB

Sep 2, 2021, 12:30 AM | Updated: 12:43 pm

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick and his magnificent beard plan to lead Washington on to the field for the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 12. The 38-year-old’s role as starting quarterback was never in question.

Ron Rivera only this week identified “FitzMagic” as the starter. Fitzpatrick said Thursday he did not need the public declaration after a QB competition against Taylor Heinicke that was more of a coronation, but now he’s ready to embrace the job of starting for a ninth team in his 17th NFL season.

“As we get going into the season and having those defined roles and being able to really take all the reps and work on all the little nuances with different guys, that’s when everything really gets heightened and becomes a big deal,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s nice to know and to have that and to have those extra reps with those guys.”

Rivera began training camp splitting the first-team snaps between Fitzpatrick and Heinicke, determined not to make the same mistake he did a year ago by declaring 2019 No. 15 pick Dwayne Haskins the starter so early. If it wasn’t clear through the first few days of drills, it became obvious in two preseason games that this was Fitzpatrick’s offense and team.

“Fitz’s experience and his overall knowledge — football knowledge, football acumen — really just said, ‘Wow, this guy’s really got it together,'” Rivera said. “I feel very confident and comfortable that he can manage our offense and he can make plays when we need to have them made.”

Washington cut Alex Smith (since retired) after winning the NFC East and signed Fitzpatrick to give offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s unit some more oomph. Fitzpatrick takes more chances with the ball but believes he’s a better passer than earlier in his career thanks to some mechanical adjustments and experience. His improved touchdown-to-interception ratio backs that up.

Fitzpatrick knows he’ll throw some picks, but unlike Smith he’ll throw the ball down the field and open up things.

“To me, managing a game and making the right decisions, it doesn’t necessarily mean just dinking and dunking and throwing short passes,” Fitzpatrick said. “It means making good decisions that pertain to the certain particular situation that you’re in during a game.”

Fitzpatrick has been in just about every situation through stints with the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Buccaneers and Dolphins. He’s less than 3,000 yards away from passing Boomer Esiason on the career list and just over 5,500 back of Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana.

To his credit, Fitzpatrick credits playing so long for even being able to climb so far up that list. But his experience is a major asset for Washington, which already has a defense that ranks among the best in the league, and weapons on offense such as running back Antonio Gibson and receiver Terry McLaurin who could use a steady hand at the wheel.

“It’s just his confidence,” McLaurin said. “He doesn’t really say too much. He’s not like a big ‘rah rah’ guy, but when you make a big play, you feel it. You feel his ability to get you in the right play and know he’s going to come to you. When he’s telling you to do something, it’s for a specific reason.”

There’s also a specific reason Fitzpatrick chose Washington over other suitors as a free agent — and not just because a ninth team allows he and his wife and their seven children to each have a different jersey to show off. Having never before played in the playoffs, he thinks this is just the chance to guide a team there.

“This as a great opportunity for me — one that maybe I haven’t even had an opportunity like this in my career,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m looking forward to doing everything I can to take advantage of it.”


More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
26 days ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
26 days ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
26 days ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
26 days ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
26 days ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
26 days ago
‘FitzMagic’ part 9: Fitzpatrick takes reins as Washington QB