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  1. #1
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    Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Tuesday, July 5, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Ryan Fitzpatrick has heard it over and over. It repeats like a broken record whenever someone recognizes him. Every camp, combine or workout he attended, it was always the same.

    “I get it a lot,” Fitzpatrick said. “Going to the East-West game and the Hula Bowl that was assumed from day one. I didn’t even have a name then, my name was Harvard.”

    Harvard is certainly a name that speaks for itself. The Ivy League school has built its reputation as one of the premier academic institutes in the world. The thought of the Crimson invokes images of some of the world’s most innovative scientists, mathematicians and historians.

    Rarely, though, does the thought of Harvard bring to mind any sort of connection to football, at least not at the NFL level. When the Rams called Fitzpatrick’s name with one of their seventh-round choices, Fitzpatrick immediately set out to change the perception of what a quarterback from Harvard is capable of.

    Rams coach Mike Martz said there was plenty to like about Fitzpatrick.

    “The way we grade and rate quarterbacks, he was rated fairly high,” Martz said. “He is very accurate, very intelligent and extremely competitive. He is an interesting guy.”

    Of course, Fitzpatrick knows what his perceived positives are. Without ever speaking to a team official or answering a Wonderlic question, it was widely assumed that Fitzpatrick was one of the smartest players in the draft simply because of the name on the “college” line of his resume.

    The assumptions spun out of control to the point that a rumor spread that Fitzpatrick scored a perfect 50 on the Wonderlic, a timed test designed to determine a prospective player’s ability to process information quickly.

    Though that rumor was not true, Fitzpatrick doesn’t shy away from the smart label.

    “I didn’t score perfect on it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I had a 38 out of 50. I got through the test in about nine minutes, I didn’t answer one question. Took test at combine, people heard I finished it so quickly and assumed that I had a perfect. I’m a perfectionist, so I wish I would have done better. Being from Harvard, though, they know I can process information.”

    Therein lies Fitzpatrick’s greatest strength, but make no mistake, it is not his only strength. If it was, a quarterback guru such as Martz probably wouldn’t have taken such a liking to Fitzpatrick.

    Martz has a reputation for developing little-known or underrated quarterbacks into elite-level players. That isn’t to say that Fitzpatrick is the next Kurt Warner or Marc Bulger, but it also doesn’t mean that Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the ability to become a solid professional quarterback.

    For now, Fitzpatrick has plenty to concentrate on. Harvard’s playbook, like many in the college or NFL game, was nowhere near the size of the always-developing book of Martz. Fitzpatrick arrived to the rookie mini-camp at the end of April and immediately started the learning process.

    Martz gave Fitzpatrick quite a bit of attention and the young quarterback was able to take some valuable knowledge away from the session. Martz came away impressed with how fast the young quarterback was able to grasp things, even though he was the lone player at his position during the camp.

    "I'm very impressed with him," Martz said after the camp. "I don't know if I've ever been around a quarterback that absorbed what we've done with him out there as quickly as he did."

    Fitzpatrick said knowing someone with the reputation Martz has for developing quarterbacks is quite flattering, but there is still plenty of work to do.

    “I think it is a bit of a compliment, but at the same time I have a lot of work to do and I have got to live up to the expectations of the other guys,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t know if it’s pressure or what it is, but there are expectations for me.”

    Fitzpatrick’s role this season remains to be seen, but it might be a tight squeeze to find a spot on the active roster. The Rams will probably carry the traditional three quarterbacks. With Bulger entrenched as the starter, that leaves two spots for three players. Fitzpatrick will compete with veteran Jamie Martin and second-year signal-caller Jeff Smoker for those two slots.

    Martin appears to have the edge for the top back-up job because of his knowledge of Martz’s complicated offensive sets and playbook. Smoker has taken time in grasping the system, but appeared to have made some strides in the offseason. The trio of Bulger, Martin and Smoker might be tough to break up for Fitzpatrick, who is probably less physically talented than Smoker, not as familiar with the playbook as Martin and neither of the above when compared to Bulger.

    Physically, Fitzpatrick is a fairly athletic quarterback who is slightly undersized. At 6-feet-2, 220 pounds, he moves well in the pocket, rushing for 448 yards in addition to his 1,986 passing yards. Though the statistics won’t jump off the page at you, Fitzpatrick has shown some ability in the early stages of the offseason.

    “I had a good college career, didn’t throw for a lot of yards, throw for a lot of touchdowns,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can’t wait to get on the field and prove what I can do physically. I think some of the things people liked about me were the intangibles and I just need to keep improving physically.”

    If Fitzpatrick can do those things rapidly he might have a chance at landing on the final roster. If not, perhaps he can find a home on the practice squad. Though it might not be as interesting as a battle for a starting position, Fitzpatrick’s shot at one of the three quarterback positions is yet another training camp battle to keep an eye on.

    For the kid from the small school known only as academics, the role of longshot is nothing new.

    “I have been in the underdog role my whole life from getting I-AA scholarship offers to being at Harvard and being doubted before being drafted,” Fitzpatrick said. “There is still a lot I have to prove, but it’s a role I definitely like to assume.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Anyone ever seen a demo of this Wonderlic test? I would love to take it, just to have an idea that the score means. Harvard grad scores a 38 / 50 in 9 minutes. What does that mean?
    This space for rent...

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Quote Originally Posted by thoey
    Anyone ever seen a demo of this Wonderlic test? I would love to take it, just to have an idea that the score means. Harvard grad scores a 38 / 50 in 9 minutes. What does that mean?
    As I understand it, the test is proprietary and the Wonderlic company keeps pretty good reins on who does or doesn't see it. On their website, they provide few sample questions, I can't find a whole test anywhere. It's looks kind of like a Mensa test, but I'm sure there are differences. And I think the NFL may have contracted with Wonderlic to write a specific test just for them. After looking at some of the questions, I understand how some football players only manage 6 out of 50.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    espn posted it last year. Its not that the questions are that tough, but the time pressure can be challenging. Like all standardized tests that have a time element, they are in large part reading comprehension tests. This explains why some guys score so low. Basically, they have major troubles reading fast enough to understand the questions. Summary, while a 38 is impressive (i believe kevin curtis scored a 41 or 42) it is not nearly as remarkable as the guys who score in the single digits, which is truly remarkable for its lack of intellegence and/or ability to read.

    ramming speed to all

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    Summary, while a 38 is impressive (i believe kevin curtis scored a 41 or 42) it is not nearly as remarkable as the guys who score in the single digits, which is truly remarkable for its lack of intellegence and/or ability to read.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    Well these are football players we're talking about. Not necessarily the most cerebral of individuals. A few too many shots to the noggin will do that.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    Well these are football players we're talking about. Not necessarily the most cerebral of individuals. A few too many shots to the noggin will do that.
    A friend and Customer of mine used to be an O-lineman for the dolphins(second string)Mark Vander poehl.Seems pretty smart,but I wonder why he calls his girlfriend hash mark.
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Here's some of our draftees and their scores:
    Fitzpatrick - 38 (T4th overall, T2nd among QBs)
    Bartell - 35 (T10th overall, 1st among DBs)
    Incognito - 32 (T27th overall, T8th among OLs)
    Atogwe - 30 (T38th overall, 4th among DBs)
    Collins - 26 (T82nd overall, 8th among TEs)
    Hodges - 25 (T92nd overall, 2nd among Punters)
    Hedge**** - 24 (2nd among FBs)
    Terrell - 23
    Barron - 19
    Ridgeway - 18
    Carter - 13
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Interesting sidenote on these scores: It seems that O-lineman are always stereotyped as big dumb oafs, but of the 37 prospects that scored 31 or higher this year, 14 are O-linemen. These 37 brainiacs break down like this:

    QB - 7
    OT - 6
    OG - 4
    C - 4
    TE - 3
    DE - 3
    ILB - 3
    CB - 2
    S - 1
    DT - 1
    WR - 1
    P - 1
    K - 1

    No RB, FB, or OLB scored at least 31.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Getting Back To Fitzpatrick Does Anyone Think This Guy Has A Shot,and How Is Smoker Doing,is He A Legit #2 Qb.

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Fitz has a great, great shot to be on the practice squad. i would be shocked if he is cut outright. The only real shot i think fitz has to make the roster (injury aside) is if smoker is great in camp and martin is really lousy.

    ramming speed to all

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    Fitz has a great, great shot to be on the practice squad. i would be shocked if he is cut outright. The only real shot i think fitz has to make the roster (injury aside) is if smoker is great in camp and martin is really lousy.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    I could see something similar to last year, sort of...which is to say, at some point in camp Martin gets cut, but Martz keeps his cell phone on speed dial, just in case. If Bulger stays vertical, Smoker is #2 and Fitz is #3. But the first sign of injury, Fitz hits the practice squad, and Martin signs a minimal contract.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    It'll be interesting to see how he does in training camp. Isn't that when Martz traditionally lambastes the backup qb(s) to see if they can handle it? From what I've heard so far, it seems Martz is somewhat smitten with the guy so it would surprise me if he didn't make it onto the roster somehow.

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    Re: Fitzpatrick Begins Next Course

    I'm really excited to see how Fitzpatrick performs in the preseason. Like many of you guys have said before, I highly doubt he will just get cut. I have a pretty good feeling about this guy but as always, only time will tell.

    GO RAMS!!!

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