Ryan Fitzpatrick (or as he is affectionately known, Fitzmagic) has been tearing it up these first two weeks of the NFL season. While this does bring to light a surprising start for the previously underwhelming Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it also adds to the continually-growing list of oddities from the NFC South. Let’s take a look at what has made this division so crazy over the past few years.
This is the most obvious talking point, as the Harvard grad has perfectly calculated the trajectory and terminal velocity on 78.7 percent of this throws so far and has racked up 819 yards. The Buccos are 2-0 and Jameis Winston no longer appears set to waltz back into his starting job come Week 4. Could this be the end in Tampa for the troubling quarterback, or will head coach Dirk Koetter risk his job with one last season of off-field problems and wildly inaccurate throws?
Remember the Matt Ryan who won the MVP in 2016? Neither do I. Ever since letting Super Bowl LI slip away to the Evil Empire, Ryan has gone from superstar to average. The team around him has only gotten better, but he seems to have lost all swagger and confidence. Will he ever return to form?
Who are the Carolina Panthers?
Another team equipped with a former MVP-winning quarterback in Cam Newton, the Panthers have settled into a prolonged stretch of mediocrity that seems to have infected this season as well. Cam has regressed since winning the award in 2015 and appearing in that disastrous Super Bowl against the Broncos, and his best buddy Kelvin Benjamin is no longer running routes in North Carolina. He has gotten the nifty Christian McCaffrey and uber-athletic Curtis Samuel to help out, but the Panthers appear to be in between phases right now and without a true identity.
Drew Brees’ final two years
Drew Brees signed a two year, $50 million extension to presumably finish out his career with New Orleans, highlighting the fact that the Saints still have yet to find his replacement. With the clock ticking now, they need someone who can step in for the Future Hall of Famer once he retires. The rest of the team is stacked with talented youngsters like Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Marcus Lattimore, but it would be asking a lot to put the whole weight of the team’s future on them. Their defense was so amazing last year but has taken a punch to the mouth so far, and they desperately need to shore up their consistency if they’re going to repeat their successes from a year ago. Many pegged this team as a Super Bowl favorite, but if they can’t find more consistency and adjust they might end up wasting $50 million.
Overall, it’s just not clear how this division will turn out now or in the future. Will Fitzpatrick stay hot the rest of the season? Will Matty Ice rediscover his confidence? Will Cam Newton finally stop throwing of his back foot and develop into an elite quarterback? Or will Drew Brees ride one last hoorah into the Super Bowl? I know these questions all center on the quarterbacks, but isn’t that the most valuable position on a football team? Anyways, my money’s on New Orleans.