The Washington Football Team‘s playoff hopes took a major hit Sunday when veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with a significant hip injury. He’s headed to injured reserve and will be out indefinitely with what Ron Rivera classified as a hip subluxation (or partial separation).
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hip injury forces him to injured reserve
Fitzpatrick will get a second opinion, but the team has not ruled out a return later in the season. But if he doesn’t, there’s a real chance Fitzpatrick’s career is over — right when he’s finally in a perfect situation.
Fitzpatrick never entered a regular season with a better opportunity than he had Sunday. WFT’s defense is ferocious, and the offense is retooled.
Washington made the playoffs last year with four quarterbacks taking meaningful snaps — Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Taylor Heinicke. Smith and Haskins are no longer on the roster, and Heinicke will get the first crack at the QB1 job while Fitz is out.
“Well, it was frustrating, but hopefully with the situation we have right now, we can go forward,” Rivera said Monday. “I mean, we’ll see. Again, that’s what we’re hoping for. We like the guys that we have, we had them play for us. They’ve done some good things for us. So we’ll see what happens though.”
Football is a brutal business largely short on sentimentality, but let’s just consider the human element involved for a second.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury the latest in a disappointing career arc
Fitzpatrick earned the FitzMagic nickname by playing with joy, fearlessness, and heart throughout an underdog career that has spanned 17 seasons and nine teams. Yet, fearlessness too often devolved into recklessness, and once every few weeks, FitzTragic would emerge.
Fitzpatrick’s inconsistency is the main reason he has never been to the playoffs. Nevertheless, he has never had a team as talented as WFT believe in him as Rivera and Co. have.
That is why this latest twist of fate, while totally in character for Fitzpatrick’s career arc, has to be so gutting for him.
When I had a chance to interview Fitz ahead of the 2020 season, he and I both operated under the assumption that the Miami Dolphins’ starting job would be his until he no longer deserved it. That wasn’t the case, as Fitz got benched for Tua Tagovailoa during the bye despite winning back-to-back games.
At the time, it wasn’t known if he’d ever play again, let alone start. But Tua’s injuries and inconsistency opened the door for Fitzpatrick to see the field again, and perhaps the signature moment of his NFL career came late in the season — his blind, helmet-twisted miracle pass that beat the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16.
The Dolphins controlled their own destiny after that game. A win against Buffalo in the finale would’ve punched their ticket to the playoffs. Yet, Fitzpatrick could only watch from afar while the Bills blew Miami out. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was ineligible to play.
Still, Washington saw enough to give him one more shot. Rivera came calling in free agency, and it looked to be a perfect fit. Instead, Monday’s news is just the next tragic turn in a career that has been fascinating to follow.
When will he return as a starter in the NFL?
With the injury, Fitzpatrick is expected to miss the next 6 to 8 weeks. Thus, Heinicke will see an extended look as Washington’s starter. Washington’s passing offense looked just fine with him under center. Even without Curtis Samuel, Heinicke has Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson to throw to.
Rivera said that Washington is not looking to sign a quarterback. As a result, Heinicke is going to be highly coveted in superflex or 2QB fantasy football formats this week. He faces a New York Giants defense that gave up 264 passing yards and 2 touchdowns to Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos.
Fantasy analysis provided by Senior Fantasy Analyst Eric Moody