Week 3 is by far and away the most exciting - and somewhat telling - time of the preseason.
The majority of starters will likely play into the second half, leaving fans with what would be considered the largest sample of regular season football until the regular season starts, of course.
But this week will come with more hype than usual for the Buccaneers. That’s because they host the Cleveland Browns, arguably the most-talked about team in the NFL.
The extra media attention will undoubtedly increase the Bucs’ national coverage. Different storylines are bound to manifest themselves in each camp, which is just a normal part of the process, but there will be a lot more to talk about this week thanks to the Browns.
It’s easy to guess what will likely be the main storyline for the Bucs: Can Jameis Winston prove that he’s the future of the franchise?
The question has stuck with Winston since he was drafted. Outside of holding down the top spot as the franchise leader in touchdown passes, he hasn’t shown if he is in fact “the guy”. The Bucs made it pretty clear that they are still waiting to find out when they didn’t extend his contract beyond the option year.
This week represents a huge opportunity for Winston to show those outside of One Buc and Tampa Bay that he is improving and making the necessary strides toward becoming the quarterback that was envisioned of him when he was taken first overall in 2015.
There are many across the nation that doubt Winston’s ability to succeed in the NFL. Whether it’s fans, media members, or coaches, the fact remains that Winston still has his detractors that have an alternate view of the fifth-year quarterback.
Not much is said when he does have success on the field, most only talk about his poor performances. They don’t pay attention to the numerous charities that he’s involved in or all of the work that he does in the community. All they care about are crab legs and one of the league’s highest turnover rates among quarterbacks.
Don’t get me wrong, not all have this attitude toward Winston, but those who do seem to speak the loudest.
Well, this week can help shut those mouths, at least for the time being. Crisp practices, accurate throws, and thoughtful interviews are just a few ways for Winston to start cutting through the narrative(s) that surround him on a national level.
It’s not that he needs the narrative to change. Winston is by far and away one of the most confident quarterbacks in the league. He knows what he needs to do to get better and he is able to ignore the outside noise, but it’s always nice when others are with you and not against you, so to speak.
The regular season doesn’t start for another three weeks, but for Winston, it could start this week.
Something tells me he will be up for the challenge.