Now that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the Houston Texans’ starting quarterback, the journeyman is in line to become the only active pivot in the league who has started for five different teams.
Despite the fact he has played for four teams in nine years, always with the design of being a backup at the get-go, the guy has managed to start 76 of a possible 144 career games. In other words, he has started more games than he has sat. Only 18 quarterbacks have started more games than he has since entering the league, and all 18 have been locked in starters at various moments. Most have been starters from the very beginning.
Fitzpatrick is replacing long-time Texans starter Matt Schaub, but if he starts the entire season he’ll actually have more career starts under his belt than Schaub, who entered the league one year before Fitzpatrick did.
Yet this is only the second time in 10 years in which he’ll be a Week 1 starter. At his previous four stops, Fitzpatrick inherited starting opportunities due to injuries and/or in ineffective play from the man/men ahead of him on the depth chart.
He entered the NFL as a third-stringer behind franchise Rams quarterback Marc Bulger and backup Jamie Martin. But both got hurt (Bulger twice, in fact) within the first 12 weeks of Fitzpatrick’s rookie season. Boom, he starts three games to finish the year.
Two years later, he joined the Bengals in order to back up franchise quarterback and Pro Bowler Carson Palmer. Palmer was back from a torn ACL, but he’d miss all but four games in 2008 due to an elbow injury. In came Fitzpatrick, who started the majority of that year.
Two years after that, he went to Buffalo to back up Trent Edwards. But in back-to-back seasons, Edwards completely fell on his face early, leaving Fitzpatrick to come in and run the offense down the stretch. He did enough to earn the starting job in 2012, along with a big contract extension. But then everything fizzled and he left Buffalo a disappointment.
And last year, he went to Tennessee to back up Jake Locker, who suffered not one but two major injuries, paving the way for Fitz to start nine games.
Now here he is in Houston. It might be his best chance yet, especially if Andre Johnson gets his act together and suits up Week 1. Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins and Arian Foster make up one hell of a trio and that Texans offensive line is formidable. He’s got the support. Might Fitzgerald finally make it as a 31-year-old? That’s not geriatric in the realm of NFL quarterbacks.
Working against Fitzgerald is the simple fact that he’s been in the right place at the right time a lot more often than he’s been good. He’s won only 27 of his 77 career starts and his passer rating of 77.5 ranks 38th among active quarterbacks with at least 500 attempts, below the likes of Locker, Seneca Wallace, Matt Moore, Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Freeman.
So don’t get your hopes up, Texans fans. This might merely be another stop on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s tour of the National Football League.