When Ryan Fitzpatrick hit free agency this offseason, he prioritized finding a new team that would give him a chance to start at quarterback. Once he realized there were actually quite a few suitors interested in his services, he started doing some research on each individual team. That’s when the Washington Football Team started to stand out.
“The No. 1 thing I was looking for in free agency was just a chance to play, a place that was gonna allow me to compete to be the guy,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday on the Sports Junkies. “When I started to narrow it down, just I think Coach [Ron] Rivera, the culture that’s being created, the youthful energy in the building, the playoffs last year — it was 7-9 but it was playoffs and I think that this team, there’s a lot of optimism and there’s some good juju in the building. So I think a lot of those things factored into it.”
Washington is coming off its first playoff appearance in five years. Rivera, in his first season with the team, helped the defense develop into a significant strength while the offense enjoyed breakout performances from several skill players like Antonio Gibson and Logan Thomas. If not for the instability and series of injuries at the quarterback position, Washington might have done even better.
Since signing his one-year deal with the team, Fitzpatrick has started reviewing tape on some of his teammates including wide receiver duo Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
“I’m excited watching tape and just knowing the little that I know about those guys,” Fitzpatrick said. “A lot of this is kinda gonna be a wait-and-see…I kinda need to get on the field with these guys, get in the classroom with these guys and even with [offensive coordinator] Scott Turner, just, ‘Here’s our weapons and here’s what we’re trying to do.’”
As a journeyman quarterback who’s played for eight teams over 16 seasons, Fitzpatrick has needed to learn a new playbook at every stop. That will be no different in Washington, where he sees the offensive game plan suiting his strengths more than the Miami Dolphins’ did last year.
“Every offense, the languages are all different but the core concepts are the same,” Fitzpatrick said. “So there is a lot of stuff that is completely foreign to me in this offense when I sit and look at it on paper, but a lot of the ways that they call it is foreign to me not necessarily what they’re running or what the reads are gonna be, the progressions.
“I’ll just do my best the next few months to get up to speed that way and there’s gonna be some of it that maybe it’s a little bit different than last year because there’s more things that I like but we’re gonna continue to work on that and figure things out as we go.”
For more interviews, tune into the Sports Junkies on NBC Sports Washington, weekdays from 6-10 a.m.