Its indeed starting to sound like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without the services of starting quarterback Jameis Winston when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers for a Week 3 Monday night game due to a suspension. After reports surfaced Wednesday evening that Winston might miss the first three games of the 2018 regular season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, Adam Schefter of ESPN confirmed on Thursday that the NFL is expected to hand down such a suspension very soon. If the final verdict is three games and it holds up, the Buccaneers will more than likely be forced to start veteran backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at home on Sept. 24 against the Steelers.
Fitzpatrick, who posted a 2-1 record last season when he was asked to start in place of an injured Winston, has faced the Steelers five times so far during his long NFL career that started back in 2005 when he was selected in the seventh-round of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams out of Harvard. Those previous five career starts against the Steelers resulted in five losses for four different teams.
For his career against the Steelers, Fitzpatrick, who is now 35, has completed 110 of his 187 total pass attempts for 1,114 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He was also sacked a total of 14 times in those five previous starts against the Steelers.
While Fitzpatrick is currently winless for his career against the Steelers, he probably shouldn’t be. In a 2010 road start against the Steelers as a member of the Buffalo Bills, Fitzpatrick completed 23 of his 45 total pass attempts in that game for 265 yards with one touchdown and one interception. In overtime of that game, Fitzpatrick threw a perfect deep ball to the end zone that was ultimately dropped by wide receiver Steve Johnson, who was wide open. That Bills drive then proceeded to stall and the Steelers drove the field on the ensuing possession for a game-winning field goal.
Fitzpatrick’s four other losses to the Steelers came with him being a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans and New York Jets.
Several weeks ago the Steelers were installed as 4-point road favorites over the Buccaneers in Week 3 by CG Technology, which runs a number sports books in the Las Vegas area. While a lot more can certainly change by the time that Monday night game ultimately kicks off, the Steelers might just end up being a 7-point favorite if things stay as they are right now and Winston is forced to sit out that contest.
As all of you know by now, the Steelers have struggled at times under head coach Mike Tomlin in games that they were favored to win by 7 or more points. Additionally, the Steelers lost to the Buccaneers the last time they played them in 2014 and that was a a game they were favored to win heavily.
Ryan Griffin figures to be the Buccaneers backup quarterback behind Fitzpatrick while Winston serves his suspension.