TAMPA — Ryan Fitzpatrick has another young quarterback looking over his shoulder.
This time, it’s not Jameis Winston. It’s Josh Rosen with the Miami Dolphins.
Rosen called Fitzpatrick “selfless,” with his time in helping to mentor him, and indeed playing for his eighth NFL team, he is a deep well of information.
“I’m an open book,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I’m here to compete and play football and have fun.''
And of all those things, playing is what matters most to Fitzpatrick. A year ago, with Winston suspended for the first three games, Fitzpatrick made the most of his opportunity. He passed for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns in each of his first three games, upsetting the Saints and Eagles before falling to the Steelers.
Eventually, Fitz-magic wore off. But it made Winston feel as if he had to compete with Fitzpatrick’s incredible passing numbers. After three games, Winston was benched again, this time for poor performance.
“I think last year was a difficult situation for a lot of different reasons, but I also look at the way he played down the stretch and he played some really good football,'' Fitzpatrick said. “I know that he grew as a football player last year in the way that he was playing.
"Last year at the beginning of the year was so great. It was so much fun to be out there and be in rooms like this in this building, but this year it’s more of the same. It’s different faces and different guys but again, building relationships and everybody working toward a common goal. And that’s one of the things I love about football.''
Bucs coach Bruce Arians said he didn’t want Winston looking over his shoulder this season, so bringing Fitzpatrick back was not an option.
Rosen says Fitzpatrick has been generous with his time as a teammate and mentor.
“He’s probably been one of the best mentors I’ve had in the sport,'' Rosen said. "He’s been an unbelievable teammate, very selfless in helping me so much. Pretty impressive how he can walk up to the line and sort of see it and just know what coverage, with everything they’re trying to do. I’m just trying to get to that level.
"I think I have a special skill set, so when I put those two together, I think it can be special. But it’s going to be a long road, a lot of film, a lot of studying. I’m just indebted to Fitz for how selfless he’s being but he still is competing his ass off. When, if, and, whatever shakes out this year, he’s going to absolutely play his (tail) off.''
Fitzpatrick says he sees helping young quarterbacks as part of the job.
"I enjoy that role and I think just the position of quarterback, that is a leadership position on the team,'' Fitzpatrick said. "Guys are looking for you for something as little as the play call, something as little as demeanor in and out of the huddle, bad plays, looking at you, good plays looking at you, seeing how you’re going to react. All that stuff goes into it. I just really enjoy playing football. I love being out there.
“I focused on being the best quarterback I can be. I’m certainly open to questions. I’m willing to put in my two cents whether you want to hear it or not. But playing this game as long as I have, there are good things that happen but there also are scars you develop and mistakes that you’ve made that you don’t want other people to make. So I just try to share all those experiences with them and they’ve been real good as far as asking questions and being receptive.''