Fitz Like a Glove
By Christian Peterson
November 28, 2005 5:00 PM ET
Until Sunday, Ryan Fitzpatrick's claim to fame was that he is the second player in NFL history to register a perfect score of 50 on the Wonderlic test – the intelligence test administered by NFL teams at the combine before the draft each season.
To put that accomplishment in perspective, only one other player – Pat McInally in 1975 – is believed to have scored perfectly on the test, according to NFL.com. Not surprisingly, both players were from Harvard.
Not impressed? First, Fitz finished his test in nine minutes, rather than the alotted 12. Second, according to the same report on NFL.com, the average score in the United States (the test is commonly administered to prospective employees in industries of all kinds) is 22. The average chemist scores a 31, the run-of-the-mill custodian registers a 14, and NFL players come in at about 21, on average. Fantasy football owners, of course, score in the mid 40's.
Fine, I made that last part up, but enough about Fitzpatrick's brain.
His right arm also appears to be quite precocious. Fitz entered last week's game in the second quarter after starter Jamie Martin was knocked senseless and proceeded to lead a miraculous comeback. After a so-so start (six-of-13 for 77 yards, a touchdown, and an interception heading into the fourth quarter), Fitzpatrick engineered a stirring comeback.
In the fourth quarter and overtime, Fitzpatrick completed 13-of-17 attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns, including a 43-yard score to Isaac Bruce with 26 seconds remaining that allowed the Rams to tie the game after an onside kick and 47-yard field goal 22 seconds later.
After Kevin Curtis took a short screen pass 56 yards for the game-winning score in overtime, the seventh round draft pick had 310 yards and three touchdowns, not to mention a victory over the shell-shocked Texans.
The big-brained Ivy Leaguer garnered rave reviews after the win. "Oh man, man, man," offensive tackle Orlando Pace told the St. Louis Dispatch. "He was really cool in the huddle," added Torry Holt.
If he had received just one "man" from Pace, we wouldn't be so impressed. But three? He must be the real deal. Of course, at this point there's no guarantee Fitzpatrick will remain the starter, but circumstances appear to point towards that eventuality.
Martin's status is currently unclear. Reports out of St. Louis indicated he suffered blurred vision, not a concussion as originally assumed on Sunday. To anyone who saw Jamie staring blankly straight ahead while the doctor attempted to get the dazed quarterback to follow his finger after he absorbed a blow to the head, however, it's fairly clear that he might not be ready to go this week.
And even if he is, why bother? The 35-year-old career backup is certainly not a long-term answer of any kind for the Rams. Marc Bulger is probably out for the season with a right shoulder injury and, at 5-6, the team is essentially out of the playoff picture.
All of which leads to the likelihood that Fitz could be the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, which makes him our Pickup of the Week.Make no mistake, the brainy Fitzpatrick is no savior, but with just one or two weeks remaining before the fantasy playoffs, we're not looking for a season-changing waiver wire addition here.
If you were depending on a player like Bulger or Byron Leftwich as your signal-caller, Fitzpatrick could be your guy. Actually, let's face it - unless you are lucky enough to employ Peyton Manning or Carson Palmer, you're probably shuffling your quarterback position on a weekly basis as it is.
The cerebral rookie will almost certainly take his lumps, but there's at least one little nugget remaining on the Rams schedule that could make him a very valuable addition to any fantasy squad. In week 16, when most intelligent fantasy leagues are playing their fantasy championship game, the Rams get the 49ers – one of the worst passing defenses in recent memory – at home.
The Niners are dead last in the NFL in passing defense, allowing over 280 passing yards per game and ceding 21 touchdowns in 11 games. They have not held an opposing passer not named Kyle Orton under 233 yards, and they're even worse on the road – surrendering over 294 passing yards per game and 13 touchdowns in five road tilts (including the goose egg put up by the incompetent, and not nearly as smart, Orton).
If you're desperate, you can even use him against the Vikings (225 passing yards per game, 19 touchdowns allowed) in week 14, and the Eagles (216 yards, 18 scores) in week 15.
But back to week 16: Bulger put up 362 yards and two touchdowns against San Fran back in week one, and there is no question Fitzpatrick has the weapons (Steven Jackson, Holt, Bruce, Curtis) to match those numbers in the most crucial of fantasy weeks.And how great would it feel to win your Fantasy Bowl with some dude name Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm? The future trash-talking implications alone are almost worth adding him to your roster...
"Hey Frank, remember that year I won the championship with the captain of the debate team at quarterback?"
"What year was it when I schooled you in the championship game with some dork from Harvard in my lineup? 2005?"
You get the idea.http://www.fanball.com/fb/article.cfm/ID.5087