Scott Turner Doesn't See Ryan Fitzpatrick Slowing Down Anytime Soon

Scott Turner doesn't see Fitzpatrick slowing down anytime soon originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Seven rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft came and went and the Washington Football Team did not select a quarterback. That came as a surprise to some, given the pre-draft hype and the fact that prospects like Justin Fields and Mac Jones began to slide.

Yet it wasn't in the cards for Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew, as the group felt it was best to invest in other areas than potentially mortgage the future. It was also a chance to show their confidence in the quarterbacks on the roster, such as the newly-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Offensive coordinator Scott Turner is in the same boat, as he's excited to have the veteran join the unit for the 2021 season. 

“We’re really excited about Ryan. That was a guy in free agency that we wanted to get and we were able to get him," Turner said in an upcoming Washington Football Talk Podcast episode. "You look at the last two years, he’s really played the best football of his career.”

Related: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick is a major winner of the 2021 NFL Draft

Fitzpatrick has continued to play at a high level even as he entered the backend of his 30s. 2019 was his first season with the Dolphins, and he delivered 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 appearances and 13 starts.

Then in 2020 while slipping in and out of the starting role as Miami tried to figure out how to handle rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Fitzpatrick once again performed admirably despite never truly knowing when his name would be called. He compiled a 4-3 record in nine starts, threw for 2,091 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games with the highest completion percentage of his career and kept the Dolphins in the playoff hunt.

In a full season of starts, Fitzpatrick would have been on pace to throw for around 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, especially when considering the regular season is now 17 games. The interceptions -- around 16-20 -- would be of concern, but that type of production is something that Washington hasn't seen at the position in years.

Fitzpatrick is somewhat of a hard quarterback to read, given that his seasons are filled with highs and lows and typically lacks a large sample size of consecutive starts. Still, given that Fitzpatrick has 16 years of exprince under his belt, one can hypothesize what a team will get from him during the season. A gunslinger that will make all the necessary throws, push the ball down the field and give his team an opportunity to win more times than not.

Based on his track record and work as of late, Turner envisions a 2021 season in which Washington gets Fitzpatrick at his best.

“Obviously he’s 38 years old, couple months younger than me, but he is playing well, he’s playing at a high level and there’s no reason to believe that he’s not going to continue that," Turner said.

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Washington used the offseason to give Fitzpatrick a solid chance of playing at a high level by addressing the offensive line and receiving group in free agency and the draft. That support system will help the QB succeed, but Fitzpatrick could also be key in improving Washington's offense.

Even as Washington began to win games down the stretch in 2020, it was clear that the offense was not at its full potential. Games were won by the defense while the other side of the ball used short passes and the run game to do just enough to get points on the board. 

Turner has recognized that the next level is to push the ball downfield, something that has become a calling card for Fitzpatrick.

"We made an emphasis about, we gotta make plays down the field in this offense to really open up everything else,” Turner said.

“To try and take that next step we gotta get some plays down the field. And that’s been an emphasis," Turner said. "Fitzpatrick’s done it, obviously, his whole career.”

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