With the end of the season right around the corner and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eyeing another 5-11 season, should head coach Dirk Koetter give Ryan Griffin the go-ahead to start against the Falcons? I think so due to the fact that there really isn’t anything left worth playing for aside from pride and possibly earning one more win better than last year. That would put us in a two-way tie for second-place or maybe even a three-way tie for second place in the NFC South, which would likely just result in us ending up dead last anyway.
It’s the last home game of the season, and it would be nice for fans to enjoy a win the final game of 2018 in Raymond James. But what’s the point?
You could start Jameis Winston, and he could win Sunday, but he could also get injured. If there is any question about whether or not Jameis Winston will return next season, why risk injury and be forced to pay him that $20.9 million in guaranteed money? If they decide that Winston is going to be here next season, why risk an injury to your franchise guy just for a lost season?
I know everyone wants to play to win! I want us to win, but at the same time, I am thinking about next season, and I’m betting I’m not the only one. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a healthy scratch last week heading into Dallas, and Griffin was promoted to back up. Surely Griffin should get at least one game under his belt, considering he’s a five-year veteran and has never taken one snap in the regular season. Is there a better time for him to get that regular season snap count in other than during a meaningless game? Other than a season opener, I cannot think of a better time.
On Monday, Dirk Koetter addressed Ryan Fitzpatrick’s and Ryan Griffin’s situations:
“Well, first of all, we’re not mad at Fitz in any way, or anything like that. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time since Jameis came back the last time as a starter, and I just think that we’d love to get Ryan Griffin in a game if the situation called for it. I mean, the guy’s been here for three years, and he’s worked his tail off. I’ve talked to you folks about this before: I think Ryan Griffin is a really good quarterback. He tears it up in practice every day, but he’s never gotten a chance to prove it in a real game. Ryan Fitzpatrick did his job for us this year and is going to be a free agent, he may or may not be back. That’s not for today’s topic. We’d just like to see Ryan Griffin get a chance to get in a game if the opportunity presents itself. He’s been killing it in practice.”
So why not Sunday against the Falcons?
Griffin is an unrestricted free agent next season, and considering he’s been third on the depth chart since coming here in 2015 and has played well in every preseason since, maybe it’s time for Griffin to get his shot. What is there to lose? It certainly seems like Koetter may be leaning towards that decision, and I hope he does.
I understand that the main importance is Winston’s improvement and continual development every Sunday, but I believe we’ve seen everything we are going to see from him this season. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is scratched next week, then we could see Griffin get his shot, and in the words of the immortal Captain Picard, I say, “Make it so!”
If it doesn’t happen, then it’s just another head-scratching call made by Dirk Koetter.