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, or is it just a fluke? Fitzmagic has taken the league by storm. Ryan Fitzpatrick followed up his insane week one performance versus the New Orleans Saints with another tremendous performance against the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. But he’s not the only quarterback who is off to a hot start. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes is also lighting up the league. But in Tampa Bay Fitzpatrick’s stunning play has raised debates and important questions alike. Should Fitzpatrick keep the starting quarterback job? For how long? How long can he keep up this play? Is there any historical precedent for this? If so, can that tell us anything about how Fitzpatrick might play going forward? Can a hot start lead to a good season, or is it just a fluke?It’s a question Football Outsiders and Justis Mosqueda of Optimum Scouting both asked, and they both approached the problem in a similar manner and came out with similar results - by taking defense-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR) (Fitz has 478) and adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) (Fitz is at 15.3). Football Outsiders (FBO) states that only Tom Brady in 2011 has ever gotten off to a hotter start. Of the 18 players that made the list that started somewhat similarly, most are in the Hall of Fame, or will be. It includes Brady, Peyton Manning, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and guys like Drew Bledsoe and Donovan McNabb. But it’s important to note that most of these seasons by these guys don’t even come close to what Fitzpatrick has done.Mosqueda had this to say:But what do these numbers tell us about how Fitzpatrick might play the rest of season? FBO says:So there doesn’t seem to be a great analog for Fitzpatrick, as the only real journeyman to ever do anything similar to what he’s doing is...Brad Johnson, who did it with Washington in 1999. This Bucs defense is not that. Despite that Adam Humphries Jersey
, Mosqueda writes:Fitzpatrick’s career average AY/A is 6.16, and has only one other season above 7 AY/A, with Houston in 2014. Despite his averages, Fitzpatrick has placed himself well in continuing to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league this season. It’s also important to remember that it’s not just Fitzpatrick and Mahomes lighting it up. The whole league is having success passing, though of course to a smaller degree:So what can we take away from all this? First, that Fitzpatrick is doing something truly unprecedented for the type of player he is, and is standing out even in a bonkers passing environment. Even if it’s impossible for him to sustain this level of play, he is still more likely to play better than he ever has before, and that bodes extremely well for Tampa Bay’s playoff chances. The NFC is loaded though, so the Bucs will probably have to win 9 of their remaining 14 games to finish 11-5 to feel comfortable making the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned to practice on Thursday afternoon, in preparation for their week three matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith spoke to the media following the teams practice. The Buccaneers did get some positive news today on the injury front regarding both Vita Vea and Brent Grimes. In regards to Vita Vea, it is unclear whether or not he will play this weekend, but Smith is confident in his ability to make an immediate impact. “Oh absolutely. Vita’s a big man. He’s going to demand four hands on him,” Smith said. “If they try to put two hands on him he’s going to be a guy that’s going to be able to get penetration into the offensive backfield. We’re just waiting for the word where he can get out and help us.”On the other side of the spectrum Demar Dotson Jersey
, Grimes declared himself 100% today and is excited to return to the field on Monday. Mike Smith is also looking forward to getting his top cornerback against the games best receiver. “It’s going to be great to have him back today first – out there on the practice field – and getting him reacclimated to playing football. He’s a very good defensive back that is going to make us a better defense, so we love having Brent out there,” Smith said. “He knows and understands the game and he’s going to help the other guys as well because he’s a guy that really studies and understands splits, and how people are trying to attack us.”Tampa Bay is off to a great start and the Steelers are coming in to Raymond James Stadium desperate for a win. With the drama surrounding the Steelers right now, you can make the argument that this is a must win game for them. Mike Smith knows the Steelers will be ready to go come Monday. “I think when you don’t get the outcome you want in the previous week, it ramps up your desire. I don’t think it matters if you were a playoff team or you were a team that was in the middle of the pack. Guys in this league are super competitive – we don’t like to lose,” Smith said. “I can assure you that Coach [Mike] Tomlin is going to have those guys ready to go when we play them on Monday night. I hate to say underwhelmed, overwhelmed – when we go play the team that didn’t get the outcome they wanted the previous [week] they got a little something in their neck.”There was no question that the overall defensiveperformance improved from week one to week two for the Buccaneers, but the pass rush is what was noticeably improved. “I think the biggest progress that we made as a defensive football team was that we were a lot better in our pass rush and putting the pressure on the quarterback. We got to him three times and we hit him about a dozen times,” Smith said. “That was probably the biggest thing. It was a lot of individual effort, but it was also a group of guys that were working together in terms of knowing what each other was doing and being assist-men for each other.”If the Buccaneers want to get to 3-0, the pass rush will need to step up again or Big Ben will shred this defense apart.