Is the FitzMagic Show Over?
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 19 November 2018

I think I know now why Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter stuck with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB for Sundayís game against the Giants. It seems the plan all along was to stick with Fitz until he exceeded Jameis Winstonís pick total. That would make a move back to Winston seem warranted and to the surprise of few, Fitzpatrick obliged on Sunday by throwing three picks, including a pick-six, during a 38-35 loss at Giants Stadium.

That brought Fitzpatrickís season pick total to 12, two more than Winston, and so FitzMagic is gone. His magic touch has been gone for a while, but now he and his magic touch are gone for good. Unless theyíre not. You never know with these Bucs, so letís break this one down.

Letís start with Winston, whose redemption tour began in fine fashion. After replacing Fitzpatrick early in the third quarter he engineered four straight scoring drives to give the Bucs hope in a game in which all hope seemed lost.

It wasnít always pretty. Winston got lucky when Mike Evans fell on his fumble in the end zone at the end of his first drive and got lucky a couple more times when the butterfingered Giants couldnít hold on to a couple of tipped passes.

But Winston was more good than bad and was at times spectacular in completing 12 of 15 passes for 199 yards and two touchdown tosses before a last-ditch throw wound up in the Giants hands with 13 seconds left.

Not only that, but the return of Winston to the lineup Sunday seemed to bring a sense of normalcy to this team, a feeling that this is how itís supposed to be, how it was supposed to be all along.

Like Winston a few weeks ago, Fitzpatrick more than earned his place on the bench. His three picks Sunday gave him seven in the three games he started ahead of Winston and they came at critical junctures.

The first came on a throw from his own 30-yard line, which means it wiped out a scoring chance. The second was a pick-six and the third was simply thrown up for grabs at a point when the Bucs still had time to rally. Oh, and letís not forget that the Bucs caught a break when the Giants didnít challenge a would-be Fitzpatrick fumble on second-and-11 from the Giants 15 early in the game.

At the end of the day, Fitzpatrickís giveaways led to 10 points for the Giants, and the Bucs wound up losing by three. Itís easy to say then that without those picks, the Bucs could have easily won. The defense never had a chance in this one. Before the game even started, the Bucs were without linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, safeties Justin Evans and Chris Conte, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive lineman Vinny Curry.

Thatís more than half this teamís projected starters on that side of the ball, and nowhere are the Bucs thinner than on defense, where they just donít have enough quality depth, particularly in the secondary.

Throw on top of that the fact that the Bucs spent the bulk of the first half blowing their gap assignments in the running game and itís no wonder they spent the day playing catchup. They mostly struggled to stop Barkley, who ran 27 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns, but they were equally ineffective against quarterback Eli Manning, who matched a career-best start by completing each of his first 11 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.

For one week at least, the kicker wasnít an issue. Cairo Santos, who was brought in this week to replace Chandler Catanazaro, who was finally fired after missing two more field goal tries last week, five for five on PATs. He did not attempt a field goal.