Ryan Fitzpatrick has most to prove for Washington in 2021

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Ryan Fitzpatrick has most to prove for Washington in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Every season, every player on every NFL roster has something to prove. No matter what was done in the past and what their reputation is, a new season brings new expectations and goals.

Still, some have more to prove than others and that is surely the case in Washington. Yet when evaluating the roster, who has the most pressure on them entering 2021?

NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay understands why many would point to the likes of safety Landon Collins, who signed a six-year, $84 million contract prior to the 2019 season. The big-money free agent hasn't quite lived up to his price tag and is coming off an Achilles injury. If things don't go right, his time in Washington could be over.

It's a fair argument, but Finlay believes the answer is someone else. It all comes down to how the new QB in town performs for the Burgundy and Gold.

"Dig down a little deeper, it’s obviously Ryan Fitzpatrick," Finlay said.

One could wonder how Fitzpatrick -- who is entering his 17th NFL season -- has anything left to prove. He's gone through just about every type of adversity, made magical plays and done whatever has been asked of him.

His career path, though, is why there is still something for him to prove. As Finlay sees it, even with the success Fitzpatrick has had at numerous points in his journey, there is still one thing missing.

“This is a guy that has been in the NFL for almost two decades and yet he’s never been able to hold on to a starting job," Finlay said.

Even during his hottest stretches, Fitzpatrick was unable to stick too long with any of his first eight teams. He's always been a guy to come in and help when called upon -- and that is impressive in its own right -- but he's had very little opportunity to be the guy. 

Part of that has been the situations he's entered. They've been messy, dysfunctional or the plan from the start was only for him to be a temporary stop-gap before a younger quarterback takes over. 

That changes in Washington.

"Fitzpatrick’s never had a better situation than he does here in Washington where there’s no high draft pick looming behind him that fans are going to want to start screaming to get on the field," Finlay said. 

Though that is encouraging for the quarterback, it only adds pressure. Ron Rivera and company are giving him a chance to show that he can be more than a passer that rides hot and cold streaks, but the leash isn't infinite. Taylor Heinicke may not be a top prospect, but he's impressed in minicamp and is on Ron Rivera's radar.

Still, barring a major change, Fitzpatrick has the keys to the car. Now, it's up to him to demonstrate he should remain in the driver's seat. 

"If Fitzpatrick can get off to a good start and limit those pesky interceptions, Fitzpatrick could prove, finally, he’s a starting-caliber NFL quarterback," Finlay said.