When last we saw the Buccaneers eight days ago, it was a disastrous 45 to 10 blowout loss in Chicago. In that game embattled franchise quarterback Jameis Winston returned from his three-game NFL suspension. Winston played the second half with the Buccaneers already down 38 – 3.
He had some success, including an early fourth quarter touchdown drive. And in fairness, you couldn’t judge much from Winston taking over in such a one sided-lost cause type game on the road.
Then, last Monday, third year Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter named Winston as his starter, when the Buccaneers return to the field this coming Sunday in Atlanta.
Although last Sunday at Soldier Field was his first action of the regular season, Monday’s resumption of practice after the bye week starts another new beginning for Winston. One that the Buccaneers hope leads to immediate success and begins to clarify the future of Winston and the Buccaneers intentions with him beyond the season.
After all, Winston performed at a high level in August during three of the Buccaneers preseason games. Granted it’s preseason, but still it was encouraging to see his focus, his accuracy and the potential regular season success.
Now, we come to the latest chapter in what has already been a sorted soap opera involving Winston, the current Buccaneer situation and his future.
Sorted, because Winston’s suspension has called into question whether the Glazer family, who owns the franchise, will ever commit more than $100 million to him to lock him up with a long-term contract.
Sorted, because during Winston’s suspension, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played at a surprising and highly successful level throwing the football, as the Buccaneers won the first two games and very nearly came back to win the third.
Sorted, because off of a 5 – 11 season a year ago, Koetter has already been on the hot seat and knows he needs to win games to keep his job.
So, that’s the mix that Winston walks back into in the Bucs facility and for the short-term.
Short-term, because if he is not successful against the Falcons and/or then, over the next couple of weeks when Tampa Bay hosts the Browns and then plays on the road against the Bengals, there will likely be more to the soap opera.
That’s because, the debate will turn to whether Kotter will go back to the veteran Fitzpatrick in attempt to win games, which Fitzpatrick has done as a spot starter for the Bucs the last 2 years in an attempt to save Koetters job.
Again, it begins and ends with Winston and his play. It’s his team, once again, but only for now.
How Winston plays, how he leads, and whether the Bucs win games is mostly going to be up to him.
The next chapter is now underway.
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