Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Forced errors continue to be Winston’s, Buccaneers undoing

Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire


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TAMPA – Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is a risk taker. Always has been always will be. It’s a trait the Bucs tolerate more than embrace. After all, it’s not like Winston is going to change.

Besides, Brett Favre was a risk taker. How’d that work out? For the most part, pretty well. It’s the same with Winston. There are times when his risk-taking has a huge payoff.

Then there are those times like this past Sunday when the losses far outweigh the gains.

Fourth quarter, Bucs down 31-17 but with the ball and some juice after the defense forced only its second three-and-out of the game. Second-and-4 from the Vikings 44, 12:37 left on the clock.

 “We were driving,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “We were back within two scores. We were across the 50 on the plus (44) and it was a poor read (by Winston). And we had a good man-zone indicator there.

 “Jameis just missed the read. He tried to force it in there to DeSean (Jackson). (Winston) had to step up (in the pocket because he) had a little bit of pressure, but he tried to force it in there. That’s just not going to work.’’

No it’s not. The result was Winston’s second interception of the day. Surprisingly, it didn’t kill the Bucs chances of winning the game. Though the turnover led to points the Bucs defense made sure it was only three.

A Kyle Forbath field goal made it 34-17, so when the Bucs got the ball back again with 8:40 left to play there was still a chance. There was at least until Winston rolled the dice again three minutes later.

 “Jameis tried to force it into Mike (Evans),’’ Koetter said of the throw Winston made into what proved to be a triple coverage on a second-and-10 play from the Vikings 21. “He’s just got to check that ball down.

 “Now, I think at one point in the second half, Jameis was something like 18 out of 22. I’m talking just in the second half now. So there were two incompletions and two interceptions.

 “So Jameis made some really nice plays. He made some really nice throws, but it’s just that, the main thing is as an offense is, we just can’t turn the ball over.’’

Koetter went on to say that turnovers are obviously more prevalent when a team is playing from behind, but that’s one of the lessons Winston has to learn. When he’s in a hole, he has to avoid digging it deeper.

Winston is surrounded by weapons. He’s even got some on defense. Winston knows that, of course, but this game was proof that he still has a tendency to try to win games all on his own.

Until that changes the Bucs are going to continue to be what they are right now, which is a team that has the talent to go a long way but too often comes up short because of its own forced errors.

And that’s what Winston is, too. He’s a quarterback with elite-level talent and a lot of moxie, one who should never be outplayed by a journeyman like Case Keenum but has been and continues to be.

The reason? It’s simple. As former Bucs coach Tony Dungy said, Winston still doesn’t trust the process and the weapons he has around him as much as he trusts himself.

 “Jameis wants to take chances,’’ Dungy said Sunday night on Football Night in America. “He wants to make plays, and this is where he’s going to have to get better if (the Bucs) are going to be a playoff team. He’s very talented. But he’s got to take care of the football.”

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