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Fitzmagic Is Real—and It’s Making the Bucs Look Unstoppable

After a disappointing 2017, a dynamic receiving unit has helped Ryan Fitzpatrick turn the Bucs into one of the season’s biggest surprises

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Temperatures in Tampa Bay felt hotter than 100 degrees on Sunday and Ryan Fitzpatrick was cooking. In a 27-21 win against the Eagles, he completed 27 passes on 33 attempts (81.8 percent) for 402 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception as he looked like, well, uh, the best quarterback in football not named Patrick Mahomes II. He is the first Bucs QB to throw eight touchdowns in any two-game span. Four of those eight touchdowns were on throws of more than 50 yards. Fitzpatrick now has the most 50-plus-yard touchdown passes through two games of the season since Joe Namath in 1972. Fitzpatrick did it in six quarters while felling the Saints and the Eagles, the fifth- and eighth-best defenses last season by DVOA and two of the final four teams in last year’s playoffs. Fitzpatrick and the Bucs, whose preseason Super Bowl odds were as high as 90-1, have fulfilled their expected destiny … from 2017.

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Entering last season, the Bucs, who had just signed free agent DeSean Jackson and drafted tight end O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin to play alongside Mike Evans, were expected to be one of the best pass-catching groups in football. That didn’t quite work out in 2017, but a year later, the unit is making Fitzmagic look real.

Jackson followed up his five-catch, 146-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 1 by burning his former team on the very first play of the game for a 75-yard touchdown that was eerily similar to some of his past plays with the Eagles.

Howard hauled in a pass 15 yards downfield, then broke free for a 75-yard touchdown that put the Bucs up 13-7. He displayed the exact kind of open-field elusiveness the Bucs brass envisioned when they drafted him.

Godwin was touted as a deep threat, but for the second week in a row caught a touchdown inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.

Evans, the star of the group and perhaps the face of the franchise, had another touchdown in what was expected to be a down year without Jameis Winston.

While the Bucs personnel deserves a ton of credit, they have also been aided by the schemes of offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken, a former assistant at Oklahoma State, is running the offense for the first time in Tampa Bay after head coach Dirk Koetter finally handed over play-calling duties in the offseason. The Buccaneers are 2-0 for the first time since 2010, and their next game is against the Steelers on Monday Night Football. If they win that game and start 3-0 against teams with a combined 2017 record of 37-11, perhaps we’ll have to admit this is our new reality and not just September football.