The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the midst of a late-season surge that likely won’t land them in the playoffs, but will bring some smiles to fans.
Starting quarterback Jameis Winston is enjoying them, too, but they might be his final outings in pewter and red. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians was asked if he was queried by ownership now, would he throw his full support behind Winston as the team’s starting quarterback going forward?
"I’m gonna pass on that one," Arians said, via ESPN. "I’m gonna wait until the end of December."
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That’s, well, less than assuring for Winston. The former No. 1 overall pick out of Florida State has long been known for taking unnecessary risks that have hurt the team, which has spent five years balancing that reality with his potential and natural talent. He’s reached his worst point in the turnover department in 2019, though, throwing an even 20 interceptions to go along with 22 touchdowns.
The turnovers are so frequent, you could almost set your watch to them. In Tampa Bay’s 12 games this season, Winston has thrown at least one interception in eight of them. He’s thrown multiple interceptions in six of those eight games, including a five-interception outing in a loss to Carolina in London. Sunday’s 28-11 win was his first interception-free game since Nov. 3.
That alone is not a franchise quarterback characteristic, and it’s emblematic of Winston’s career, really. Over his four years and 12 games, Winston has thrown 110 touchdowns and 78 interceptions. His yardage outputs per season are quite good — above 252 yards per game in each season of his career — but it’s the interceptions (and fumbles) that constantly rob him of being a legitimate franchise-changing player. He’s been stuck in an in-between for so long, he might never move beyond it.
Arians was seen as the quarterback whisperer who might finally boost Winston over that hump, help him cut down on his mistakes and soldify him as the guy, but that simply hasn’t happened.
"There’s been really, really, really good and there’s been some really, really bad," Arians said. "I’m gonna pass until it’s over and then we’ll make a decision."
The Buccaneers weren’t sure about their opinion of him when it came time to pick up his fifth-year option before the 2018 season, but did so because of the unknown. Now that the marriage with Arians hasn’t produced significant change, Winston will get four games before Tampa Bay must choose to either attempt to retain him, or let him walk.
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