The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face a big decision this week. What’s next in the career of Jameis Winston?
Albert Einstein is famously credited for saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Sound familiar? Although Jameis Winston missed the first three games of the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to a scorching start with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. I’ve always tried to separate what we see with Jameis Winston on the field, from what we see off the field. That being said, it seems that while we tried to ignore the latter, we can no longer ignore the former.
Off the Field
I never wanted to draft Jameis Winston. Although it took me a while to come to grips with the idea that the Bucs drafted Winston, I eventually did. One of the first things that brought me around on Winston was rookie minicamp. Reports stated he was in One Buc place before everyone shaking hands with all the rookies welcoming them to minicamp. My opinion started to change over time, Winston did good things in the community, said all the right things in press conferences and his teammates seemed to love him.
Off the field, there didn’t seem to be much to worry about, until the Uber incident. Many rushed to his defense. “He’s young!” “He’s going to mature” “It happened in 2016 back when he wasn’t smart, that’s not him anymore!”. I accepted it. Although I didn’t agree with it, I accepted it. Regardless of whether or not he did it, he put himself in a bad position, with his past history, he was instantly vilified. Again, the fact of the matter is, Winston needed to be smarter than that. There was no need to be in that position, but that’s in the past. It seems all of that is behind him. Whatever happened was over and while many gave up on him, I didn’t. Although I didn’t give up on him, his decision making gave me pause. Afterall, he was the quarterback of the future for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On the Field
We have seen ups and downs. First ever quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in back to back seasons to start his career. Youngest player to 3,000, 4,000 and 10,000 yards. Winston was the youngest ever quarterback to 40 touchdowns. Those are only some of his accolades on a league wide level, then there’s the franchise records, which is a long list too. No one can deny Jameis Winston is a decorated and talented quarterback, but stats don’t always tell the whole story. Jameis Winston has struggled with turnovers throughout his career and yesterday was more of the same. The one thing that has been consistent throughout Jameis Winston’s career? His inability to control turnovers. Since his return in Chicago, Jameis Winston has thrown five touchdowns and ten interceptions. The only other time he was close to this type of performance in terms of interceptions, was a four-game span at the end of 2015 (7) and a four game span to end 2016 (8).
As I was watching the game yesterday, I began to wonder, why now? This is probably the best Buccaneers team that Winston has ever had. Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries are an elite receiving core. Couple those wideouts with two of the best catching tight ends in football and you get the number one passing offense in the NFL. Yet so far, Sunday was the worst we have seen him perform. In the preseason, the whole fan base was excited to see the quarterbacks play so well. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston and Ryan Griffin all had phenomenal preseasons. Ryan Fitzpatrick started the regular season and exceeded all of our expectations. It was time for Winston to take the next step. The weapons were in place and this is arguably the best pass blocking offensive line the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had during his tenure. Instead of taking the next step forward he took two steps backward by having the worst four game span of his career.
Even the staunchest supporter of Winston can’t defend what happened on the field yesterday. This wasn’t some vaunted defense who causes fear in the opposing offense. The Bengals are 32 in the league in passing yards and total yards allowed. Up until yesterday, the Bengals had only six interceptions on the season which ranks middle of the pack. On top of that, the Bengals were missing three key starters in Nick Vigil, Vontaze Burfict and Darqueze Dennard. No, the Bengals defense is not elite in any way, shape or form. It was against this defense, in the fourth year of his career, Jameis showed us that he hasn’t taken a step forward. Winston showed us that he is not Brett Favre, he’s Jameis Winston. On Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers benched Jameis Winston late in the third in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Four seasons invested into Jameis Winston. Four seasons of touchdowns, turnovers and the “gunslinger” mentality. The Buccaneers are in a precarious situation and it’s all because Winston put them there. I don’t think we can “officially” declare Jameis Winston a bust. I don’t think we can start making the comparisons to Trent Richardson or Jamarcus Russell. All that being said, what we can do is state the obvious. This team has a better chance to win with Ryan Fitzpatrick than with Jameis Winston. It brings me no joy or pleasure to say that. It is not a “high five” type of moment. It’s a painful realization from a fan of Jameis Winston that his days in Tampa should be numbered. Maybe Winston will succeed elsewhere, maybe a new start on another team is exactly what he needs. Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, Jameis Winston is not the franchise quarterback the Buccaneers thought they were getting in 2015 when they drafted him.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff get’s together and decide Winston should be the starter for next week, it’s simple. Fire them all. This isn’t about anything other than winning and at this point, and if you and I can see Winston isn’t the best chance to win, the staff should be able to see it.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.