As the 2018 season approaches, more thought is being put into Jameis Winston’s place in the NFL.
A three-year starter who has simultaneously set franchise records and befuddled analysts with constant turnovers, Winston enters his fourth year with high expectations, and in the eyes of some high pressure, to perform well.
One such declaration of pressure comes from CBS’s Jason La Canfora, who named Winston as one of his 10 quarterbacks under the most pressure to perform well this season. Named amongst the likes of Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater, Eli Manning and Ryan Tannehill, La Canfora notes that Winston (unlike fellow young bucks Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff, Derek Carr and Dak Prescott) has yet to make the playoffs.
Writes La Canfora:
“You could certainly argue he belongs higher on this list. The fate of coach Dirk Koetter, who many thought would get fired a year ago, clearly rests on his shoulders... And with all of Winston’s off-field foibles and bizarre sideline stuff (acting out, starting melees, trying to eat his damn fingers or whatever the hell that was), the leadership and maturity and results have to come now, in year four. He played very well after returning from injury and has looked like a franchise quarterback more than enough to let you know what is in there, but it needs to manifest itself on a near weekly basis or this franchise could be blown up by ownership.”
While it would take a pretty drastic 2018 for Winston to lose status as franchise quarterback, it’s not hyperbole to tie Koetter’s fate to Winston’s performance this year, and since next season serves as the final of his rookie contract after the Bucs picked up his fifth-year option, it’s not inaccurate to say that Winston is under high pressure to perform well. Winston’s accuracy, his interceptions and his wins and losses have been covered nonstop, and while the numbers tend speak to his favor, results are the number one goal. After a bright 2016, last season was supposed to serve as his coming-of-age campaign. Offensive and overall team struggles prevented that, and so now a media narrative that was extremely pro-Buccaneers (and Winston) heading into 2017 is now rightfully skeptical of it heading into the new year.
Winston has shown the potential to be one of the NFL’s brightest and most exciting stars, but he’s yet to consistently be able to show off that talent and skill. With eyes increasingly turning to Tampa Bay to see if this is the season it comes together, the rest remains up to the former Florida State star.