As the Buccaneers and the Titans hit the practice field together on Wednesday, the ongoing highly-publicized debate rekindles about who was the better choice three and a half years ago to lead a franchise?
The Bucs held the number one overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and had a very intriguing and also controversial decision to make. Should they take the regional favorite and former Heisman trophy-winning and National Champion quarterback, Jameis Winston, from Florida State?
Or should they take the Heisman Trophy winning star quarterback from the University of Oregon in Marcus Mariota?
As you know by now, the Bucs took the risk, despite Jameis Winston’s background problems, including a sexual assault allegation at FSU, and drafted him anyway with that first pick.
Tennessee wasted no time and took Mariota to lead their franchise with the second overall pick.
And as the rotation of the NFL schedule would have it, and the NFL wasting no time to seize the opportunity, the Buccaneers hosted the Titans in week one of the 2015 season.
Weeks and weeks of built up to that opening game, which lead to Mariota playing brilliantly throwing four touchdown passes and having a near perfect quarterback rating. Meanwhile, Winston’s first NFL regular-season pass was intercepted and run back for a touchdown.
Winston would go on to have a shaky day with another “pick six,” and, the Titans blew out the Buccaneers 42-14.
From then on, there has been” back and forth” scrutiny over which player is better for their franchise, and in the Bucs case, how might things have been different, if they had simply taken Mariota?
Both players would go on to have their teams on the verge of the playoffs at the end of the 2016 season. But, despite Winston having a good season, the Bucs could not capitalize on being 8-5 and lost two critical games at the end of the year at Dallas and at New Orleans virtually eliminating them from the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Mariota also had Tennessee in position, but was injured in week 16 suffering a broken leg in a defeat at the Jaguars, which basically eliminated the Titans from playoff contention.
Fast forward to the 2017 season, where Winston suffered a shoulder injury that cost him parts or all of five games. Tampa Bay floundered and were never relevant in 2017, finishing 5-11. Meanwhile, Mariota had a strong season and helped by Tennessee strong run game with Derrick Henry and a good defense, the Titans earned a wild-card spot.
Mariota then led a second-half comeback in the AFC Wildcard win at Kansas City. Thus, cementing his legacy for now, in Nashville.
Meanwhile, as has been heavily reported, allegations surfaced in November that Winston had inappropriately touched an Arizona female Uber driver in March of 2016. The NFL essentially believed the accuser and suspended Winston for the first three games of this upcoming season.
This further casts doubt as to Winston’s future in Tampa Bay.
So while it is just training camp, and these are just practices before a preseason game upcoming on Saturday night.
Nevertheless, get ready for much more debate and talk about which quarterback was the better choice then, which quarterback is the better bet now, and how big of a mistake did the Bucs truly make three years ago?
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