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The blame shouldn’t be on Jameis Winston

Bucs defense is to blame

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered yet another devastating loss on Sunday as they fell to the Atlanta Falcons 34-29. With that being said, the people out there blaming Jameis Winston for the defeat need to get lost.

I mean, seriously, enough is enough when it comes to blaming Winston for everything that goes wrong with this team. He can’t control the defense, nor the kicking game, or the coaching. If it wasn’t for Winston on Sunday, the Buccaneers would have lost this game by 20+ points. To those who say Fitzpatrick would have yielded a better outcome, please go look at the majority of Fitz’s career, as well as the Chicago game, or the first half against the Steelers and try and convince me differently.

Jameis Winston finished the game 30-41 (73.2%) for 395 yards and four touchdowns. The Buccaneers also posted their first 100+ yard rushing game for a grand total of 500+ yards of total offense, but still lost. Oh, by the way, the Buccaneers are only the second team since 1940 to lose with those offensive numbers in a game. Teams overall were 51-1-1 with those offensive numbers, and with two turnovers, teams were 17-0, but yeah...it’s Winstons fault.

Yes, Winston threw two interceptions, one of them being in the end zone, which obviously cannot happen, but that was his first red zone INT since his rookie season in 2015, and certainly wasn’t the reason the Buccaneers lost this game. Interceptions happen, even Tom Brady throws them, but if Winston goes three more years until his next red zone interception, I’d be happy.

Look, I would be the first to tell you that Winston must cut down on the turnovers just a little bit, but do you really want two yard check downs every play? Do you really want to watch an offense similar to the New York Giants? The Buccaneers run a vertical offensive scheme, which requires many throws down the field. It’s just natural for interceptions to happen.

Does anyone remember what happened before halftime? Winston executed a perfect drive to cut the lead back down to eight with only 26 seconds remaining in the half. Yes, only 26 seconds were remaining in the half, but Mike Smith’s defense allowed Matt Ryan to drive 47 yards in four plays and it took less than 20 seconds. Again, a step forward by Winston, forgotten because of the defense.

This defense that Jameis Winston has to contend with is historically bad. Currently, the Buccaneers defense has allowed opponents to score 34.6 PPG. No defense in the history of the NFL has allowed 30 PPG or more. The defense is also dead last in pass defense as they are allowing an average of 355.6 YPG. In more embarrassing stats, the defense is well on it’s way to setting a new record in opposing completion percentage, as well as opponent passer rating. The all-time record for completion percentage is 72.6%, currently, Tampa Bay is allowing 76.8%. The passer rating record is 116.2. Tampa Bay, through five weeks, is at 129.5.

Those are just a few things that Winston has to contend with on a weekly basis. He isn’t only battling the other team, but he is also battling his own defense and has for the better part of four years now. So, basically, if the Buccaneers want to win, Winston and company must score over 35 points every week, never make a single mistake, and accumulate over 400 yards of offense. That’s just unrealistic, but still, fans will find a way to blame Winston.

There is little room for error on offense because of the inability of the defense. Watching the game, it almost feels as if once the offense doesn’t score on a possession or two, the game is over. This was evident in the first half as Tampa Bay jumped out to a 6-0 lead (thanks Catanzaro), but before you know it, it was 21-6 because the offense didn’t score on their next two possessions. It’s simply unfair to expect any offense to score a touchdown on every possession and as a result, the last three games have been the Buccaneers playing catch up the entire game.

Once the Buccaneers get Winston an average defense (which won’t happen this year), the wins will start piling up. Until then, Winston will continue to be the scapegoat for many fans who want him out of town.