Tampa Bay Bucs still have yet to name Week 4 starting quarterback

On Monday night it seemed Ryan Fitzpatrick’s magic had run out in Tampa after three consecutive interceptions before halftime as the Bucs faced the Steelers on national television. After the half though, we saw another spark of Fitzmagic, who led the Bucs to two touchdowns. The Bucs lost 30-27 but it was third game in which Fitzpatrick threw for more than 400 yards.

Hours later Jameis Winston, who was suspended for three games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy when he allegedly groped an Uber driver in 2016, returned to work, unsure whether he would assume his role as the starting quarterback.

The 35-year-old Fitzpatrick, has played for a whopping seven teams over 14 seasons. In three games as Tampa’s starter he’s thrown for 1,230 yards and 11 touchdowns and in the process became the first player in league history to top 400 yards passing in three straight weeks. His magical attitude has also boosted his status in the locker room, and he has the clear support of his teammates. It was just last week after the Bucs win over the Eagles that Fitzpatrick addressed the media in Desean Jackson’s clothes.

After that game, Jackson appeared on NFL Network, and expressed his belief in Fitzmagic. “He’s been playing on fire right now,” Jackson said. “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.”

By now, both men know who the starting quarterback will be, according to NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo.

Koetter is still being coy with the media, saying on Tuesday, “I know there’s a lot of interest in the quarterback thing. I did talk to both Jameis and Fitz and it was great to see Jameis back in the building. He was here early and working hard. We’re glad to have him. [It’s] a short week. He assured me that he’s ready to go, which I don’t doubt for a minute that he’s been working hard. So we both know what we’re going to do.” On Thursday it was Ryan Fitzpatrick who followed OC Todd Monken in meeting with the media, though Fitz declined to answer whether he’d be starting.

Still, I’ll be shocked if it’s not Fitzpatrick.

With Winston not playing a snap with the team until this week, a short week where the Bucs face the first place NFC North team and the powerhouse defense of the Bears, Koetter starting Winston seems unlikely. Fitzpatrick knows this team, he’s gotten Tampa off to a better start than Winston has in the past three years, and he deserves the start.