It has taken only four games for Jameis Winston to duplicate something he had done only once in his first four seasons.
For the third consecutive game, Winston surpassed the 100 mark in quarterback rating. In the grand scheme of football, that’s not really important. The fact that Tampa Bay went 2-1 in those games (and only a missed field goal short of winning the third game) is the more important factor.
The deeper issue is that Winston may have finally made the important change from sloppy, error-prone quarterback to secure, confident passer.
Because, he happened to do a little of both on Sunday in Los Angeles. In leading the Buccaneers to a 55-40 victory, Winston was his sometimes-stunning self in getting the Buccaneers to a 21-0 start, 28-14 lead at halftime and a 45-34 lead with 9:05 remaining in the game.
That’s when the Buccaneers needed a five- or six-minute drive to take control of the clock. A score at the end of that drive would have been good, too, but the critical part was to take time off the clock. On the third play of that drive, the Bucs faced a third-and-9, Winston dropped back with all the confidence of new coach Bruce Arians and fired a deep out to the left side.
That was then picked off by Rams cornerback Marcus Peters and returned to a touchdown that cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 45-40 with 8:11 remaining. This was the classic Winston moment, the terrible interception that has plagued him at every moment of his career. His propensity for turnovers is the reason the Bucs have picked up an option for the fifth year of his contract but have yet to invest in him seriously.
Clinging to that five-point lead, the Bucs got the ball back and now needed to both take time off the clock and get at least a field goal. These are the type of game-closing drives that separate the merely talented from the franchise-leading quarterbacks that get $100 million in guaranteed money. The type of money that Jared Goff, the opposing quarterback on the day, got before this season started.
Now in his fifth season, Winston needed this drive. He also needed the test came on the third play of that drive. This time facing a third-and-6 situation, Winston hit Mike Evans for 12 yards. Winston fired right into the teeth of the Rams defense. It wasn’t a swing pass or screen into a safe spot of the field. By the end of the drive, the Bucs had a field goal, a 48-40 lead and were on the way to finished a 55-40 victory.
This is the genius of Bruce Arians. He doesn’t find excuses for quarterbacks to be careful. He finds moments for them to make confidence-building, game-changing plays. He did it with Ben Roethlisberger. He did it with Andrew Luck. He did it with Carson Palmer.
Bottom line, Arians pushes quarterbacks to take advantage of their given talent. Arians doesn’t tell quarterbacks to avoid interceptions. That’s expected. You don’t become a great quarterback by throwing passes to the other team.
But you also don’t become great without making big throws in big moments. You don’t become great without going toe-to-toe with one of the best passing attacks in the NFL and coming out on top, the way Tampa Bay did against the Rams on Sunday. Winston was integral to that by going 28 for 41 for 386 yards and four touchdowns. His interception was his only real blemish. Only one other throw – a long heave on third-and-10 that would have been a de facto punt – was even close to being picked off.
All of that shows up in the quarterback rating, which serves as a strong indicator that Winston and Arians are on the right path. While there is more work to do before that big contract could happen, this may be the stretch of his career when Winston looks back and understands that everything started to come together
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.