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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite Sunday win Jameis Winston still needs to go

Jason Cole

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The Jameis Winston sloppiness has never gone away.

In Spring 2015, former NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who is now running personnel for the Oakland Raiders, was discussing the pros and cons of Winston as the top two picks in the draft. Like many NFL scouts, Mayock liked Winston’s pure throwing talent, saying it was suited for the NFL. Mayock also thought Winston’s size, accuracy and confidence all projected to that of a young Ben Roethlisberger, a prototype pocket passer.

There was just one problem. The sloppiness of how Winston handled his life and how it was creeping into his play on the field. The multiple incidents at Florida State, including a rape allegation, made Mayock and others wonder aloud. It wasn’t a question of guilt because that was difficult to sort through.

The question was more philosophical: If Winston was willing to be so cavalier and borderline criminal in the way that he handled life at the college level, what was he going to become when he got to the pros? In fact, Winston was often just as sloppy on the field at Florida State as he was away from it. His touchdown-to-interception ratio went from 40-to-10 as a freshman to 25-18 as a sophomore.

That’s when Mayock came to a damning conclusion about Winston’s future as a pro.

“If he’s going to handle his life that way now, he’s going to let you down later,” Mayock said. “If he’s going to be sloppy in life, he’s going to be sloppy with the ball and with the team.”

Five years later, that’s still the case and the game Sunday against Arizona was further proof. While Winston led a game-winning drive in the 30-27 victory, his heroics were partly a creation of his own mistakes. Specifically, two interceptions that simply make you wonder what Winston is doing?

On both a deep out to the wide side of the field on the third play of the game and on a throw over the middle in the second half, Winston made two terrible stare downs on his receivers that led to picks on Tampa Bay’s side of the field. These plays were so obvious that the defensive backs on the plays basically got to the ball faster than the receivers.

If Winston were a rookie or second-year player, these would be excusable. If he made one of these plays every now and then, that would be human. Instead, this is his fifth season and he made two in one game, part of a string of four games in which he has thrown nine picks.

The bottom line is that Winston is sloppy. It’s the case more than ever. While Winston has, for the most part, cleaned up his life off the field, there are still moments on the field that are confounding. Moments that should be disappearing, not showing themselves on a regular basis.

And yes, folks in Tampa should be celebrating today after an exciting victory over Arizona on Sunday. But that spasm of joy can’t ignore an overwhelming reality: Winston is still the same player he has always been, a combination of tantalizing talent and insufferable mistakes. At a time when Buccaneers management needs to decide what it wants to do with Winston long-term, he continues to make mistakes.

That means, barring some make-good, incentive-laden contract, it’s time for the Bucs to move on.
While Winston is not completely to blame for the team’s 3-6 record – the Bucs have allowed 27 points or more in eight of nine games – he is also not solving the problems. That’s both his and the team’s problems.

He leads the league in turnovers this season with 18 and leads the league in giveaways over the past five years. He has 14 interceptions and four lost fumbles (among 10 fumbles total) through nine games. He has the highest interception percentage of his career at 3.9. He’s on pace to break his career-high of 18 interceptions in 2016 and possibly, his career-high for fumbles of 15 in 2017.

Parse that however you want. There is no positive spin.

Yes, Winston is playing for his third head coach in Bruce Arians. But Arians is the guy who came to Tampa with the “quarterback whisperer” reputation. The thing is that it should go without saying – be it a whisper or a scream – turnovers are bad. This is not advanced football theory.

So when Winston lobs an out pass to the far side of the field without even looking off the receiver or driving through the ball with his legs, you just have to shake your head. When, later in the game, he stares down a receiver and throws into double coverage when one of the two defenders is the uber-talented Budda Baker, that’s not an enlightened play.

Budda. Enlightened. See what I did there.

Yeah, the play on words is obvious. Just as it’s obvious Winston isn’t improving.

Sure, he’s trying. The pained look on Winston’s face every time he throws a pick and then looks at the pictures of the play shows his earnest desire to get better.

The point is that desire doesn’t mean anything anymore. You can try all you like. At this point, it’s about results. And the results are still the same.

Jason Cole is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector who has covered the NFL since 1992. He has worked for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, Yahoo Sports! and Bleacher Report. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Giant with Plaxico Burress and Heart for the Game with Simon Keith.

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    Richard Dickson

    November 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Part of the reason the defense is giving up so many points is that Winston keeps turning the ball over and giving the opposing offense a short field. Not that he’s to blame for the woeful state of the secondary, but I’d feel better having our defense have to defend 60 or 70 yards rather than 30 or 40.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs win fourth straight whipping hapless Lions Sunday

Florida Football Insiders

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For the fourth consecutive game, the Tampa Bay Bucs put together four full quarters and this time, beat a struggling Detroit team 38-17 in the Motor City Sunday.

Quarterback Jameis Winston once again through an early interception, but then, also once again, played brilliantly afterwards, throwing for 458 yards and four touchdowns as the Bucs led 21 – 0 in the first half.

Showing no ill effects from a tiny thumb fracture on his throwing hand, Winston hooked up with Breshad Perriman (above) on the first of two first half scores for a 7 – 0 lead.  Then, after a franchise record 99-yard drive, found rookie Scottie Miller on an 33 yard touchdown and it was 14 – 0.

Winston’s third score of the first half was also to Perriman wide open from 25 yards and he topped 300 yards in passing in half number one.

Tampa Bay took a 24 – 3 early in the third, but then the Lions behind rookie free agent quarterback David Blough made a bit of a rally. Blough led two scoring drives that were capped by fellow rookie Wes Hills taking them in from a yard out for TDs and it was 24 – 17 early in the fourth quarter

The Lions actually got the ball back and looked like they might have a chance to go tie the game but that’s when, Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting jumped in front of a Blough pass on the Lions sideline and raced 70 yards untouched for what turned out to be the clinching score. Winston added a third touchdown pass to Perriman in the final three minutes to provide the final margin.

In the win Winston made NFL history, as the first quarterback to ever throw for 450 yards or more in back-to-back games. And, he has all but solidified that he will be brought back as the quarterback for 2020 with the way that he has played down the stretch the season.

Despite throwing his lead reading 24th interception in the first quarter, Winston is in the top free in touchdown passes and yardage, and the Bucs are coming on strong late.

It’s the first time they’ve won four times in a row, since the end of the 2016 season, when they won five straight games. And, Tampa Bay has now levelled their record to 7 – 7. It is only the second time in the last 7 seasons the Bucs have won at least seven games. The Lions loss is their seventh straight and 10th in 11 games.

The Buccaneers will come back home for a special Saturday afternoon game with the AFC South leading Houston Texans. Houston was victorious in Nashville Sunday and will be looking for a win trying to secure a playoff spot.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs in Detroit leads our NFL primer

Florida Football Insiders

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Three weeks to go in the NFL regular season and all three state NFL teams are in action in winnable situations.

First, the Buccaneers try to level their record at 7 – 7 and win their fourth game in a row, as they travel to take on the lowly Detroit Lions. All eyes will be on quarterback Jameis Winston, who suffered a tiny fracture in his throwing thumb late in the first half of last week’s 38-35 win over the Colts.

After initially missing the first series of the second half while having a thumb x-rayed, Winston came back and led the Buccaneers to a 17-point rally, including throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman the final 5 minutes. Coach Bruce Arians declared Winston ready to go after he was able to throw the ball in Friday practice.

Tampa Bay will be without star wide receiver Mike Evans with a pulled hamstring suffered in the win last week and maybe, without starting left tackle Donovan Smith, who suffered a knee injury Sunday and could not practice this week. Smith is listed as doubtful for the game.

Meanwhile, the Lions are struggling mightily having lost six games in a row and are down to 3rd string quarterback David Blough and backup running backs. This is a very winnable game for the Buccaneers inside of Ford Field.

As for the Dolphins, they’re back in the Meadowlands for the second consecutive week in a scheduling quirk. Seven days after losing in heartbreaking fashion 22 – 21 to the Jets on a last-second field goal, they will play MetLife Stadium’s other tenant, the New York Giants.

The Dolphins have played much better football down the stretch of the season and had they taken advantage of the five red-zone opportunities last week with something other than Jason Sanders field goals, we would probably be talking about a fourth win in five games for them.

Miami gave wide receiver DeVante Parker a lucrative contract extension on Friday, but he is questionable to play after suffering a concussion last week and will be a game-time decision. As for the Giants, they have gone back to veteran QB Eli Manning, who was benched earlier in the year in favor of rookie QB Daniel Jones.

Manning lead the Giants out to a 17 – 3 lead in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football only to see the offense stall and the Eagles rally to win in overtime.

This is also one of several teams that Miami is competing with for a better draft position next April, but you get the sense that Brian Flores’ team is not worried about that right now.

Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars stumble into Oakland for an historic final game for the Raiders at their home for the last 60 years.

The Jags have lost five straight games and Coach Doug Marrone acknowledged this week that he and everyone in the front office and on the field is on notice that they may be out of a job. The Jaguars benched Nick Foles after the first half of the loss two weeks ago to Tampa Bay, but QB Gardner Minshew got very little going on offense last week in their blowout loss at home to the Chargers.

It would not be surprising if Minshew struggles again this afternoon, that Marrone turns back to Foles try to spark the team.

As for the Raiders that they were looking good in the AFC playoff picture at 6 – 4, but have now lost three straight games including a blowout loss to Tennessee at home last week, which has all but eliminated them

Derek Carr and the Raider offense will look to take advantage of a poor and banged up Jacksonville defense that has been surrendering over 25 points a game each of the last five weeks.

The Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas next year and this is their final scheduled game to be played in the nostalgic Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. So the Jags will be the answer to a trivia question, as well.

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