Sikkema’s Stat of the Week

If only Ryan Griffin’s name was “Ryan Griffith.” I could have written this whole Cover 3 with an Andy Griffith Show theme to it.

Oh well. You can still whistle before you read the intro.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a mutli-layered predicament with their quarterback situation. On the forefront, their starting quarterback and face of their franchise – Jameis Winston – is going to start the season on a three-game suspension. Knowing that, questions as short-term as how will he split first-team reps in preseason, and questions as long-term as to whether or not he’s worth signing to a second contract all get brought into play.

Some of these questions will be answered either in full or in part over the next month, but regardless of how much each question is answered, training camp is an important time for Winston. Then there’s the scheduled backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick came in to relieve Winston when he went down with a shoulder injury in 2017. Fitzpatrick appeared in five games and garnered a 2-1 record as a starter. This is a seasoned veteran in the NFL, so though training camp will be important, some of it is just cruise control for him.

So how do you divide the starter snaps, if those are the two you are considering? Knowing Winston is going to be your guy from Week 4 and beyond, do you still give him starter reps during all of training camp? Half of training camp? Those are the questions surrounding Winston and Fitzpatrick.

But then there’s a third component. The one less talked about; the one that was supposed to be the only quarterback question going into camp. That third component is 28-year old, five-year pro third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin.

Bucs QBs Ryan Griffin and Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs QBs Ryan Griffin and Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Griffin has always been in the Bucs’ bullpen as that young quarterback that they were developing. We see teams do this around the league where they’ll either draft a quarterback late or sign one as an undrafted free agent, keep them around for a few years, see if he develop, and if he does, he either wins the starting job or remains a backup and becomes a coveted trade piece. I have to believe that was the plan when the Bucs picked Griffin off waivers after he was cut by the New Orleans Saints in 2015. Griffin had been on and off the Saints’ active roster and practice squad since going undrafted in 2013 out of Tulane.

But, now 28 years of age and with five unproven years in the NFL, this needed to be somewhat of a movement year for Griffin. Griffin’s two-year contract is up at the end of the 2018 season, and if the Bucs are going to re-sign him as their main backup, which would be the case due to the money he’ll command as a quarterback and because the 35-year old Fitzpatrick likely isn’t coming back after this season, they need to know what they have in Griffin.

So far in his career we’ve heard that the coaching staff likes Griffin, we’ve heard the front office likes Griffin, heck, he even lives with two of his teammates Cameron Brate and Adam Humphires, so you figure he’s a good teammate. But Griffin has yet to throw a regular season pass as a Buccaneer in three seasons, and, in fact, has yet to throw a regular season pass in his entire NFL career.

2013 NO 4 0 32 59 54.2% 14.8 380 6.4 95.0 2 1 53 78.4
2014 NO 4 0 48 77 62.3% 19.3 530 6.9 132.5 3 1 52 90.3
2015 NO 4 0 24 41 58.5% 10.3 264 6.4 66.0 1 1 31 75.7
2016 TB 4 0 43 74 58.1% 18.5 429 5.8 107.3 1 4 41 56.6
2017 TB 1 0 4 9 44.4% 9.0 57 6.3 57.0 0 0 16 65.5
YEAR TEAM GP GS COMP ATT PCT ATT/G YDS AVG YDS/G TD INT LNG QBR

The stats shown above are Griffin’s NFL stats, but they’re all from preseason action.

Griffin’s best preseason seemed to be in 2014, but he was behind Luke McCown for the backup job and never seemed to gain ground in that spot, even with a 3:1 TD:INT ration and a QB rating over 90. He was picked up by the Buccaneers after the preseason in 2015, so there’s nothing for him there in terms of reps with the Bucs since he did not make a regular season appearance.

In 2016, with Mike Glennon firmly in control of the backup spot as a former starter in Tampa Bay, Griffin again didn’t have much of a chance to move up the ladder. He saw most of his action in the 2016 preseason finale against Washington in a torrential downpour that did little to show off his passing ability. In 2017 he was supposed to showcase his ability, but unfortunately he injured his shoulder during the first preseason game against the Bengals and was out until October.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Up to that game, however, there was hope for Griffin.

“Griff is throwing the ball great, No. 1,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said back in training camp last year. “He’s really throwing it smooth right now. In this first game, the ones aren’t going to play a ton, so we’re going to give Fitz and Griff both reps with the twos and threes. But before it’s all over, we would to give those guys a series with the ones, with the first O-line. I think that would give them the best chance to show what they can do.”

So it sounded like 2017 would have been a real chance for Griffin to show what he’s worth before he sprained his throwing shoulder during the preseason and perhaps compete for the No. 2 QB job. The Bucs had Griffin on IR for half of the regular season following the injury but did re-activate him to the roster when they shut down Winston for a few games in November, in which Griffin was then the back up to Fitzpatrick.

But would it have been different had Griffin not gotten hurt? Would it have been him stepping into the spotlight for the first three games this season instead of Fitzpatrick? No one knows for sure, but we can pick up clues as to what might happen this year in a somewhat similar situation to open up 2018 without Winston.

Does Griffin have a shot at the backup role and even a potential starting spot in the first three games of the season in 2018 if he has a terrific preseason? Let’s look at some of Griffin’s film on the next page to make a better prediction there.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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fredster
fredster
3 years ago

Seen very little to be excited about with Griffin. I’d bet good money he doesn’t stick or become a backup elsewhere. Of course we aren’t at every practice to see what they see but what I have seen is not encouraging.

BUC-ASS-BOB
BUC-ASS-BOB
3 years ago

Playing Griffin is a no factor might as well get him some snaps .
Last place is last place

nitey
nitey
3 years ago

I also see little to be excited about with Griffin, his value is only that he knows Koetter’s system at this point. He’ll stick on the roster this year, but I suspect they will attempt to stash a quarterback on the PS to develop for next year. If Griffin is back next year, I suspect it will be on a 1-year contract while they develop someone else.

Would love to be proved wrong by a strong pre-season and even maybe some game work though.

WiltheBrewer
WiltheBrewer
3 years ago

I’m one of the people who wanted to see Griffin get some live action at the end of last season… Hopefully the running game and D will step up so that either one can win 2of the 1st 3 games

Horse
Horse
3 years ago

Trevor, you could have skipped all of your film work because there’s nothing on him except for preseason, and as you know that doesn’t say much of anything. I have zero clue as to why Griffin is still here. We should have drafted a QB in the 7th round . I believe this is a mistake to still think that a 28 year old, never taking a hike in a regular-season game is worth keeping. For the first three games all we have is Fitzpatrick. We do not have a quarterback backup that has played in the NFL; I believe… Read more »

Dman
Dman
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

+1

matador
matador
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

+1

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

Ditto

Horse
Horse
3 years ago

Trevor, you could have skipped all of your film work because there’s nothing on him except for preseason, and as you know that doesn’t say much of anything. We should have drafted a QB in the 7th round . I believe this is a mistake to still think that a 28 year old, never taking a hike in a regular-season game is worth keeping. For the first three games all we have is Fitzpatrick. We do not have a quarterback backup that has played in the NFL; I believe this is a very poor GM and Head Coach decision.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

Agreed, Horse.

Our GM, whoever he is in 2019, must acquire a pretty good QB candidate. Whether Winston screws up again off the field or not, he missed 3 games (at least) last year and again this year. 3 games is too many to give away, and Fitz is aging out.

Casey Morgan
Casey Morgan
3 years ago

“Knowing Winston is going to be your guy from Week 4 and beyond, do you still give him starter reps during all of training camp?” Not true on two levels. First they will sit Winston until after the bye because he will have had no time to practice with the team, so Fitz starts game 4 either way. And if he is 2-2 or 3-1 and playing well, why go to a turnover prone Winston?

makski
makski
Reply to  Casey Morgan
3 years ago

Because he is the much better QB and our best shot at winning more games for the rest of the season. And, he is not 100 years old like Fitz.

inspecto
inspecto
3 years ago

Please, Fritz is only 96. He wants to play into his 100s !!

GoldsonAges
GoldsonAges
3 years ago

I think Griffen could be the next Casey Weldon. If he sees any live action we will know Fitz got hurt. No sense starting him to find out what you got because its pretty obvious we got a carreer no.3 QB. Or we could start him if we want a higher draft pick next year

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
3 years ago

No need to look at game film. Unless Fitz goes down on injury, or shows up at training camp unprepared, he is the starter and should get most of the first team snaps that Winston doesn’t get.

As to dividing first team practice snaps between Winston and Fitz, that’s what the Baby Glazerd pay Koetter to figure out. He will live with the consequences of his coaching.

rocky
rocky
3 years ago

It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals carry 3 quarterbacks on the roster and i assume with Sam Bradfords help they certainly will. Lets say they just roll with Bradford and Rosen do you think the Bucs would look at bringing back Glennon?

owlykat
owlykat
3 years ago

Glennon is a proven loser! Just ask the Bears who made the mistake of hiring him or just look at his win loss record here. His only good point is he scores better in the red zone than Winston but it usually takes an interception or recovered fumble for him to get down there. We need to trade a fourth or fifth round pick for Bridgewater Before he shows in preseason just how good he is.

owlykat
owlykat
3 years ago

I have watched Griffin for years in Preseason wondering why Licht ever thought he was good. He has never impressed me either. Just another reason to get Bridgewater.