Quarterbacks are expected to carry their teams. They are expected to put them in position to win. They are expected to take care of the football. They are expected to take ownership of their failures.
It’s debatable, but Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has done all of that. And has done it inconsistently.
Win or lose, Winston has always been on the side of people either defending him to death or people wanting to criticize him any little chance they get. It’s one extreme or the other. There’s no in-between.
But it’s not because of Winston’s own doing. It’s because of the team he has played on.
Many feel that the Bucs would be best to move on, that Tampa Bay can win many more games when he doesn’t turn the ball over or so often. However, if you look at the stats where Winston has taken care of the ball, the Bucs record hasn’t been much better.
0 INT, 0 Fumbles: 7-5
<2 INT, 0 Fumbles: 15-15
Points Scored: Bucs 685, Opp. 706
Football is the ultimate team sport. No one player is entirely at fault for his team’s loss. Nor should he be entirely credited for his team’s victory. There are a lot of variables at play. For Winston’s failures, we have heard and seen them: receivers not running the right routes, quitting on routes, poor pass protection, no run game, defense constantly giving up points, etc. The list goes on.
Those aren’t excuses, those are facts. And head coach Bruce Arians has made reference to that this season a few times. On Sunday, that was no different.
Three of Winston’s five interceptions were already said to not be on him. Wide receiver Mike Evans took ownership for two of the three while Arians put the other on the offensive line allowing a Carolina defender to get to his quarterback and his hit arm as he threw while references the passes to Evans as well.
His detractors only see that he threw interceptions. Period. They also argue that he had multiple interceptions he avoided due to penalties that called the bad throw back.
But what about the touchdown passes that his receivers have dropped in the end zone? For some reason, those are ignored.
Winston doesn’t go without blame here though. Countless times in his career he could have carried his team back. But he missed on his throws. Countless times the team was put in a position to tie or go ahead ahead throughout his career. But he missed the chance at punching it in.
And those turnovers? They sometimes come at a crucial time of a game.
Like his supporters and critics, there is no in-between with Winston. He either plays really good or really bad.
So what does this all say about the 25-year-old? Who is he, really? What about his future?
Several raved about Winston’s season up until the trip to London. Several were talking the high possibility of an extension some time later this season heading into Week 6. Overblown reaction? Yes.
Why? You have to let the whole season play out, then franchise him. But not to give him a near $30-million 2020 contract. But rather to make sure he doesn’t go anywhere and continue negotiations.
Many also suggest that the Buccaneers should move on from Winston, that he’s “not it” after this last game. Overblown reaction? Yes.
Why? Because it’s evident when the team is actually doing their jobs around him (blocking, running, defending, catching, etc.), he can win.
We need to realize there is an in-between with Winston. We need to realize that he is not a great quarterback, but he is also not a bad quarterback. Ultimately, he can help get the team to where they need to go.
He is not Tom Brady.
He is also not JaMarcus Russell.
Stop putting him on a pedestal and stop placing him with the worst of the worst. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.