Despite Fitzmagic getting paid way more than his fellow signal-callers and being the presumptive starter, that didn’t stop coach Ron Rivera from declaring a QB competition heading into next month’s training camp.
“It’s going to be a good competition,” Rivera said Thursday, via ESPN. “I look forward to it. It’s going to push our football team and make our football team better. I just feel that going into this knowing, we have a proven guy there that has the ability to lead us, but again, we have a guy in Taylor that shows us he can do it. They are going to compete, they are going to push, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Rivera’s declaration came in context of last season when Washington made Dwayne Haskins the starter early to give the young QB most of the training camp reps. It backfired in Washington, eventually ending with the midseason release of Haskins.
The veteran coach said he doesn’t want to make the same mistake of declaring a starter too soon and hindering the process.
“The mistake I made was that my approach was wrong,” Rivera said. “I should have made as big a competition as possible, and that’s on me. I wanted to try and find a guy. I thought [Haskins] was ready to take a step and take every opportunity. I try to build that rapport he needed with his teammates, and that would have been something we may have been able to see sooner and could have done something different, perhaps.”
Coaches around the NFL preach competition at every position. Sometimes that’s just coach speak. Other times it’s a lifestyle.
Odds are Fitzpatrick doesn’t bat an eye at competing with Heinicke and Allen. And the odds are overwhelming that he’s under center come Week 1. But if there is anything we’ve learned from Fitzmagic’s 17-year career, it’s that it’s a wild, sometimes thrilling, sometimes horrifying roller-coaster ride.
Fitzpatrick will get most of the first-team reps once training camp practices open up, but Rivera will give the others a shot with the starters. Heinicke and Allen would have to blow away the coaching staff to overtake Fitzmagic. With Rivera open to the idea, however, there is at least a chance — even if it’s one in a million.