Thursday, November 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Three Bucs quarterbacks all shined against the Dolphins

What Ryan Fitzpatrick started, Jameis Winston continued and Ryan Griffin finished in Thursday's 26-24 preseason win over the Miami Dolphins.

It was a big night for the Bucs quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who called plays for the first time since coming to Tampa Bay.

All told, the Bucs quarterbacks combined to complete 37-of-47 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown for a 103.5 passer rating.

Both Fitzpatrick and Winston led touchdown drives on their first tries Thursday. Then Griffin capped it all off by taking the Bucs on a 67-yard drive to set up Chandler Catanzaro's game-winning 26-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining.

"Start with that,'' coach Dirk Koetter said of the comeback. "I mean, Ryan Griffin I thought was outstanding. Twenty out of 26 and playing with the third group primarily. I thought Ryan did a really good job. But I also thought Fitz and Jameis did fine. They took us right down and scored, both guys. From a quarterback standpoint, I don't think we missed too many. We didn't turn it over at quarterback, so pleased with all three of those guys.''

Fitzpatrick, 35, needed a fast start to instill more confidence that he can keep the Bucs afloat during Winston's three-game suspension. He started the game and completed the first six passes he attempted to lead the Bucs to a touchdown.

Entering his 14th NFL season but only his second in Tampa Bay, Fitzpatrick said he is more comfortable than he was a year ago in the Bucs offense.

"It's a lot more comfortable and a lot of it is just repetition,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I can relate one offense to another and there are certain things from everywhere I've been to each offense. But just in terms of the command of the offense, I feel a lot more comfortable this year from last season.''

For Winston, it was different having to come off the bench Thursday. He also played with a lot of second- and third-team receivers and tight ends.

Winston went 11-of-13 passing for 102 yards and no touchdowns.

"I was happy to play football,'' Winston said. "Like I said, it was a privilege. I've been working with everybody this training camp so that prepared me.''

Griffin is entering his fifth NFL season but has never thrown a regular-season pass. He's become Mr. August, and despite playing with relatively unknown receivers like Sergio Bailey, who had two catches on the final drive, Ervin Phillips and Dare Ogunbowale, who joined the team last week.

"Oh my goodness. I thought Sergio did a great job,'' Griffin said. "They competed. It wasn't too big for them. I've played a couple years now and their eyes won't bug-eyed or anything. They did a great job.

"It was fun. That's why you play football. It was a lot of fun. Just being in there with those guys and those are the guys you get reps with in practice. It's fun to get out there and go against a different team and have success.''

The Bucs also seem to benefit from Monk's play-calling. Koetter plans to be the primary play-caller in the regular season, but it was a chance for the Bucs offensive coordinator to communicate directly with the quarterbacks.

"It was smooth,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I thought it went well. We work a lot with coach Monken on the field and in our meeting rooms so we have a nice report. It was nice to have a good feel and he called a great game for us.''

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