Does Ryan Fitzpatrick have magical powers? Some curse following him that results in starting quarterbacks on his team picking up injuries out of nowhere and then their careers taking a bad turn? It’s happened to him before with the St. Louis Rams and Marc Bulger, the Buffalo Bills and Trent Edwards, Carson Plamer and the Cincinnati Bengals and now he’s doing it to Jake Locker and the Tennessee Titans.
Fitzpatrick got his first chance 11 games into his rookie season, starting for the injured James Martin, who himself was playing for the injured Marc Bulger. The Harvard-grad threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, completing 63.3% of his passes and 117.4 QB rating for the game, becoming one of only seven players (there were less at the time) to throw for over 300 yards on his NFL debut. The rest of the way was far less impressive, throwing only one touchdown pass to seven interceptions on the next three games and was benched in the middle of a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fitzpatrick never threw another pass for the Rams again, but the part of the curse was Marc Bulger’s career taking a nosedive after he returned. Bulger had a strong 2006 season, but the Rams missed the playoffs again, and his career crashed along with the Rams over the next few years, and he’s released after the 2009 season, never playing in the NFL again.
Fitzpatrick gets picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals, who have a Pro Bowl quarterback in Carson Palmer as their starter, putting his career back together after the torn ACL he suffered from. The 2007 season with Fitzpatrick backing him up was a bad one for Palmer, leading the NFL with 20 interceptions. In 2008, his elbow injury turns out to be a torn ligament, taking him out of the season after only 4 games. That injury took away a lot of his arm strength, and Palmer hasn’t really recovered fully from that one to this day. Fitzpatrick starts 12 times in his place but doesn’t do well enough to stay with the team for another season.
The next team Fitzpatrick lands on is the Buffalo Bills, who have Trent Edwards as their starting quarterback. Maybe not a pro bowler, but someone the Bills had faith in. The moment Fitzpatrick arrives, bad things start to happen to Edwards, who is benched midway through the season. Fitzpatrick starts for the rest of the season but come 2010, Edwards is named the starter once again. Alas, after two bad games he’s benched and released, while Fitzpatrick becomes the starter for the Bills. He starts off the season with a 3-0 record in 2011, earning him a big extension from the Bills, and obviously his numbers drop from that point. He was released at the end of the 2012 season. And Edwards? Hasn’t really done anything since then.
This season Fitzpatrick arrived to be the backup to Jake Locker in Tennessee. The result? Locker goes down in the fourth game of the season after a strong start, giving Fitzpatrick two games to start and lose. Locker takes over the starting job again, but is injured once more, out for the rest of the season, meaning Fitzpatrick manages to somehow derail the career of another promising quarterback just by being there.