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Buccaneers X-Factor: QB, Jameis Winston

In Week 1, the Bucs will need a strong season debut by No. 3 to come out victorious.

NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This time last year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were getting ready to start the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback and Jameis Winston at home.

365-days - or so - later, it’s a whole new world around the Bucs franchise as Winston is firmly planted as the starting quarterback and Fitzpatrick is helping ‘Tank for Tua’ with the Miami Dolphins.

When it comes to storylines surrounding Tampa Bay, it starts and ends with Winston, so it’s fitting we start our X-Factor series for the 2019 NFL Season in the same fashion.

For the fourth time in his career, Winston will lead his team onto the field during to open the year trying to get off to a 1-0 start. The former Heisman winning quarterback currently has a 2-1 opening game record having beaten the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears to open Tampa Bay’s 2016 and 2017 seasons after losing to the Tennessee Titans in 2015’s first game of the year.

Counting his first start of 2018 against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6 of last season, Winston is 2-2 in his first starts of each year in his career. In his two victories, he has a combined five touchdown passes with just one interception.

In his two losses, Winston has thrown a combined six touchdowns but has four interceptions to go with them.

Turnovers and smart decision making has been the biggest question mark surrounding Winston during his time with the Buccaneers. It was talked about plenty during the pre-season phases of the NFL year, and thus far he’s delivered promising signs of continued growth as a decision maker.

Still, as we’ve yet to see a full game’s worth of work out of Winston, this is going to be the key in beating the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 of the 2019 regular season.

On her recent guest appearance on the Locked On Bucs Podcast, Carmen Vitali of talked about Winston’s decision making in this new Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich led offense. Quick decision making, but smart decision making is going to be the key.

NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay’s offensive line took a lot of grief after giving up five sacks in one half of football against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 of the preseason. As Vitali pointed out, Winston himself took blame for more than one of those sacks.

Indeed, this offense is predicated on what could be called minimal pass protection, which puts more weight on the mind of the quarterback, and ties the result of the game more closely to his decisions.

Entering a contract year, Winston is in the best position of his career to show he can carry a franchise. And he’s in the most necessary career crossroads to prove it.

It starts on September 8th, for our 2019 Week 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor.