The debate started almost as soon as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Is he, or isn’t he, the quarterback to lead this team into the future?
Most of us knew or were sure about the fact Winston would get five years to show whether or not he could be. And we’re here now, at the end of that fifth season, with perhaps more questions than answers.
Everyone is weighing in. Each weekend, the broadcast team is forced into a moment or two where they have to comment on the future of the Heisman winning National Champion who has never played in an NFL post-season.
National media shows spend full segments talking about turnovers vs touchdowns, moral vs immoral.
Bucs focused media discuss the moralities of a player, community impact, growth and regression on and off the field.
And ultimately, everyone assumes it’s really all going to be on one man to make the decision. A man, who says he’s not giving his opinion or final assessment until after the season is over.
So, in two weeks. We’ll all wait like the faithful visitors to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Only we’ll be looking to Tampa to find out if Bruce Arians sees a franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, or if we’re about to get at least two to four more months of looking for the next quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Until then, we’ll continue to debate and conversate. As much as people say they’re sick of the conversation, we all still have it. My own show - the Locked On Bucs Podcast - gets a handful of voicemails every week, just about Winston’s future.
The quarterback is the most important position on a football team. So, when that position’s future hangs in the balance, it’s a pretty important conversation piece.
Former NFL offensive lineman, three time Super Bowl Champion, green chile sauce expert, and current television, radio and podcast broadcaster Mark Schlereth, recently gave his own opinion on the matter, on his “Stinkin’ Truth Podcast”.
“If you want to make the argument that Jameis Winston’s the worst quarterback you’ve ever seen play the game, I can show you the film to back it up,” Schlereth said. “And if you want to make the argument that Jameis Winston’s the best quarterback you’ve ever seen, I can show you the film, to back it up. That’s why it’s maddening. I mean, it’s maddening.”
This is a sentiment pretty much everyone who has watched Winston for longer than a quarter can understand. And Schlereth also commented on another common observation about the quarterback, saying,
“A lot of the mistakes he makes...are ‘hero arm’ mistakes. ‘I can make any throw. I can fit it in any window...’. His ability to rebound from those mistakes and not let it effect him and continue to play aggressive football, is one of the most remarkable things I watch...I find it fascinating.”
Resiliency has become the word used most to describe the 2019 Buccaneers squad. Funny, considering Arians himself said he never put much stock into sports psychology before coaching this team.
The Winston conundrum is as complicated as it gets. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde like back-and-forth between greatness and disaster leaves everyone in awe of what could be while simultaneously terrified of....what could be.
And Winston’s current string of play, leads to compliment and criticism in every discussion about him. For example, this section of Schlereth’s own conversation about him,
“Jameis is playing pretty exceptional football right now. There’s just the times though, where he is like - you know, you’ll get, like the very first throw of the game against Indy (Indianapolis Colts) two weeks ago. You get a reduced split by Mike Evans. It’s clearly Cover 3...Instantly you’ve got a hook defender that’s going to be eight to ten yards deep, one yard outside the hash. They run a slant right to that spot, and it’s (Darius) Leonard, the linebacker from Indianapolis. It’s the first throw of the game, and Jameis has got this yes/no mentality: ‘Is it Mike Evans? Yes. Alright, I’ll throw it.’, and he throws it right to the linebacker....So he’ll make two or three of those a game where you’re just like, dude, you just can’t, you’ve got to understand where the defenders are. You’ve got to understand where they are in coverage. But, I really believe it’s because he’s got such talented players around him, that he feels like he can make any throw.”
You can almost hear the strain in Schlereth’s voice himself as he goes through his breakdown of what Winston can do, and shouldn’t do, all at once. And that’s really what this is about, isn’t it?
We know what he can do. And we know what he is likely to do. But you can’t just sign the good Jameis. The great Jameis. You have to take both sides of him. Because without the hero mentality that leads to disasters. You don’t get the hero moments which lead to amazement either.
What does Schlereth think the Buccaneers need to do?
“I think you’re going to have to retain him,” Schlereth said. “I think maybe it’s just on the franchise deal for one year. And see if he can clean up the interceptions...Another year under Byron Leftwich. Another year under Bruce Arians. Maybe he cleans those things up a little bit. They’re an exciting football team to watch. And they are starting to play with that kind of confidence that Jameis plays with. I think they have to retain him.”
If you haven’t heard Schlereth’s full thoughts on Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I highly recommend you do. You can find everything he had to say on the “Stinkin’ Truth Podcast with Mark Schlereth”, on the episode titled, “Pro Bowl selections | Matt Patricia keeps his job”.
As of now, what do you think the Bucs should do with Jameis Winston?
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4+ Year Extension
2-3 Year Extension