“The law of unintended consequences is the only real law of history.” - Niall Ferguson
Your actions have consequences, whether you intend for it to happen or not.
Jameis Winston and the Bucs figured that out during the summer and they are still learning as the season wears on.
The offense is on track to finish not only as the greatest offense in franchise history, but one of the top offenses in NFL history.
Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the league in passer rating with an astounding 151.5 rating. He’s completed over 70% of his passes and has thrown eight touchdowns to one interception.
Yet all people are talking about is what happens when Winston returns.
It’s interesting to think about considering where the Bucs were just a month ago and where they are now. Writers were already declaring victory for the side that chose Mariota over Winston in the NFL Draft and there were 1-15 season predictions based off of Winston’s suspension coinciding with the hardest opening three-game stretch in NFL history.
But now they’re winning - and doing so in very impressive fashion. Yet the main topic is Fitzpatrick vs. Winston/Winston vs. Fitzpatrick in both media headlines and bar conversations.
Instead of the “who should start” debate, it should be a “are the Bucs legit contenders” or a “how long can the Bucs keep their offense rolling” or even a “what do the Bucs need to do to become a complete team” debate.
The Bucs are undefeated on the field, but in the public eye, they are still losing.
It’s expected that Winston will be back under center when the Bucs travel to Atlanta. If Fitzpatrick continues to play like he has then it’s easy to foresee the uproar that will come along with his “benching” once Winston is officially named the starter.
And once again, negativity will surround Tampa Bay.
Fair or not, it’s deserved. When the face of your franchise (who has a checkered past) makes a mistake in a similar fashion to what they were once - and still - demonized for, everyone pays the price.
A leader is supposed to be a reflection of those they lead. They are supposed to be the stabilizing force that holds everything together, but right now in the case of Winston - it’s the opposite.
No matter what happens this season, Winston’s shadow will loom over the franchise and there is nothing that can prevent that from happening.
The best case scenario is to keep winning and hope that continues to happen once Winston is re-inserted into the lineup. If the Bucs falter in any way with him at the helm, then the franchise better be well prepared for the backlash that will soon follow.
Distractions are nothing new for NFL teams, they deal with them all the time. Right now, the Bucs appear to be handling this in the best possible manner. Honest, open, and direct communication with Winston while putting this team in the position to succeed have kept the Bucs from falling victim to the preseason prognostications and potential locker room dysfunction.
For 2018, the Bucs need to continue to ignore the outside noise and keep doing what they’re doing - and that’s win.
Maybe it will be enough to silence the critics, but only time will tell.
And in scenarios such as this, time is all you have on your side.