Six turnovers. Six of them. Five interceptions, a career high. This trip to London is one Jameis Winston would rather soon forget, but he better not.
There have been questions surrounding Winston’s viability for the past few seasons. Every year, it’s the same thing. A couple games where you see the talent rise to the surface and wonder how high the ceiling actually is, followed by a game where he looks like someone who has never held a football and reality comes crashing back down on your head.
It never changes. Ever.
Yeah, he threw for 400 yards. Yeah, the Buccaneers still had a chance to get back in this game and possibly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. No, it didn’t happen. It never does. This team, for its flaws, can’t find a way to get out of their own way - and that starts and ends with Winston.
Bruce Arians was smitten with Winston from afar. That’s one of the key reasons he took this job. Just how smitten is he now? How much does the “quarterback whisperer” really believe he can get through to the fifth year quarterback and set him on that right track? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times - if Arians can’t get Winston to play to the level we all believed was possible when he was drafted, no one can. Right now, it’s looking more and more like no one can.
One game does not erase what Winston did in weeks two through five. Four straight games with a passer rating over 100, a huge upset win in Los Angeles where he was damn near flawless, and someone who looked to be on the verge of turning the corner we’ve been waiting three years to see him turn.
Again, it all came crashing down.
After the game, Winston spoke to the media as he always does. I don’t even need to tell you what he said. You already know. “I need to be better,” and “I’ve had bad games, hopefully I have more good games,” or “You have to be great and I wasn’t today,” and the obvious, “We don’t win when I throw interceptions.”
Well, no crap. Enough, Jameis. Enough.
It’s the same cliched, canned crap that comes out of your mouth every single time you have a stinker like this. “I have to be better.” Then do it! Don’t talk about it, be about it. You can say the same thing over and over and over, but nothing ever changes.
Yes, Winston now has more touchdowns than any Buccaneers quarterback in history. Yes, he is only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to have 100 touchdown passes by age 25. Yes, he has turned the ball over more times since 2015 than any other player in the league.
What are the Bucs supposed to do? You stick with him this season, obviously, in hopes that this is an outlier. History tells us it won’t be. Then there’s a decision to be made. Do you sign him to an extension? Does he get franchised? Do you draft one?
You can’t draft one because the team will be good enough to draft outside the top ten. That means you give up current and future picks to get into the top three. Now you have a rookie quarterback still playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, getting absolutely battered every week - recipe for disaster. You can’t sign Winston to a multi-year deal. It’s unjustifiable. You can’t franchise him, either. That’ll cost $30-million dollars. Is Winston’s sporadic play worth $30-million dollars? Absolutely not.
But what choice do they have?
The Bucs are stuck in quarterback purgatory. No decision they make will be the right one because there is no right decision. It’s an infuriating cycle they’re stuck in of mediocrity, average quarterback play, and draft talk by Halloween.
Winston has no choice but to be better. Get his head straight, stop making idiotic decisions, and show that Bruce Arians didn’t waste his time coming back or waste his trust in a quarterback that appears to never be able to reach the level he should. Unfortunately, my faith in that happening has been shaken more than ever before, possibly to a point beyond repair. Many Bucs fans feel the same. Too many Winston defenders have been forced to wash their hands of him because what he did Sunday is indefensible.
Wake up, Jameis. You’re wasting your time, your team’s time, Arians’ time, and the fans’ time. This can not continue and won’t change until you change it. The only question that remains is if you have the sense and awareness to make that change.
Odds are you don’t.