QB catches on fast
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, May. 01 2005
Normally, when a college player gets drafted late in the seventh round - No.
251 overall to be exact - there's little cause for excitement.
But when the position is quarterback, the team is the Rams and the head coach
is Mike Martz, well, it's worth a closer look. Over the past eight NFL seasons,
with the Rams and the Washington Redskins, Martz has had a hand in developing
three Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Marc Bulger was a sixth-round draft pick; Trent Green entered the league as an
eighth-rounder; and Kurt Warner went undrafted. So as nerve-wracking as draft
weekend was for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, St. Louis was the ultimate
destination under those circumstances.
"Yeah, just the history of the guys that Coach Martz has taken under his wing
and then coached to be great quarterbacks, I was real excited when I heard St.
Louis was going to call my name in the draft," Fitzpatrick said.
He was actually on the phone with Miami, which wanted to sign him as an
undrafted free agent, when his "call-waiting" clicked. It was the Rams on the
other line, telling him they were about to draft him.
"It was certainly worth the wait," Fitzpatrick said. "I was real excited to
share that experience with my family to be drafted, have my name come up. And I
couldn't have ended up at a better place."
Never mind that he was taken with a compensatory pick just six picks before the
end of the entire draft.
"My whole life I've been an underdog," Fitzpatrick said. "I was recruited and
offered a scholarship to only one I-AA school - Eastern Washington. No I-A
schools came knocking at my door."
Well, California and Northwestern were "recruiting" him - but as a walk-on.
Which seems surprising given the fact that Fitzpatrick set 12 school records
and one state record at Highland High in Gilbert, Ariz. Fitzpatrick ended up at
that noted Eastern football factory of ... Harvard. "Academics was always
something that was important to me and my family, and something that was always
stressed," Fitzpatrick said. "So I think that's one of the main reasons I did
end up at Harvard."
He will earn a degree in economics later this spring. On the football field,
Fitzpatrick earned the Asa S. Bushnell Award after the 2004 season as the Ivy
League's most valuable player. As a senior, he passed for 1,986 yards and 13
touchdowns and rushed for 448 yards and five TDs.
More important, Fitzpatrick said, "I didn't lose to Yale my four years at
Harvard. That's one way they say that you'll be remembered, so it was a pretty
good accomplishment for me."
Not many Harvard players get drafted. Most recently, Seattle linebacker Isaiah
Kacyvenski was taken in the sixth round in 2000. Nonetheless, the response to
Fitzpatrick's selection was, uh, muted at Harvard Yard.
"Harvard's a very humbling place," Fitzpatrick said. "All my teammates knew
that I was drafted. I think a lot of the other athletes at the school knew that
I was drafted. But other than that, you go to class, you sit with the 15 other
kids and your teacher, and a lot of them have no idea."
At least Fitzpatrick picked up one new fan over the weekend in Martz.
"I'm very impressed with him," Martz said. "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."
Martz can be very tough on quarterbacks, particularly young quarterbacks. There
was that sideline brow-beating of Joe Germaine during the Governor's Cup
preseason game with Kansas City in 2001. In 2003, Martz threw Kirk Farmer out
of the huddle in training camp.
But Fitzpatrick made it through the entire rookie minicamp without even getting
yelled at. During one practice, Fitzpatrick even got - gasp! - a pat on the
back from Mad Mike.
"He's a guy that I wouldn't yell at," Martz said. (Note to readers: Clip and
save.) "He's just different. He is different."
For one weekend, at least, Fitzpatrick proved to be a quick study.
"It's funny, because you come out of college and you think you learned it all,"
said Fitzpatrick, who was arm-weary Sunday after throwing hundreds of passes
over five practice sessions.
"My (pass) drops are sound. I've been doing it for 10 years now. I got here,
and it's like everything's wrong. A lot of it is. There's a lot of things that
I need to clean up and correct in my drops. They're really good teachers, and
they know what they're talking about."
Then there's the not-so-little matter of the Rams' playbook.
"I've never seen a playbook that big," Fitzpatrick said. "I think I dropped it
when they gave it to me, it was so heavy."
Truth be told, the playbook Fitzpatrick was given Thursday was the Cliff Notes
And he thought Harvard was tough.
Re: QB catches on fast
I would like to see that playbook and have just one hour to skim through it to have a better Idea of what these rookies are going through,not to mention the 2nd and third,and sometimes fourth year players. Maybe we could get Dez to talk to Martz and we could have some kind of contest,and whoever wins gets to see the playbook:tongue:
Re: QB catches on fast
I'm excited that the Rams have a qb that is catching on so quickly. The fact that he's an Ivy-leaguer probably lends to his mental capability but I'm even more impressed that he's made it this far without being chewed out by Martz. I'm anxious to see if he's got any physical skills to go along with his mental one's this preseason. So far, the (in)ability to pick up the playbook is the only thing that holds back potential qb's for the Rams.