In light of recent events and how the season is unraveling, it’s time for the Buccaneers organization as well as its fans to pose the question. Is Jameis Winston still the franchise quarterback and the future of the team?
With what has happened over the past few weeks to Jameis Winston, it’s time to start questioning if he is able to be the franchise quarterback that the Buccaneers hoped for when he was drafted him number one overall. Winston still has the potential to be a great quarterback in the league but he’s going to have to make changes that will not only help him but help the team as well.
Let’s start with his actions off the field. Winston has had a trouble past going back to his time at Florida State. For those who haven’t followed him or missed it; Winston was accused of sexual assault, had a shoplifting incident, made vulgar comments and more recently, a groping allegation. We have a history of reckless behavior that could kill a career in any field. Winston hasn’t had any harsh ramifications from these incidents but as you see… it’s only a matter of time. After this last allegation Winston has to look himself in the mirror and make the change if he wants to continue playing in the NFL. Continued misconduct will undoubtedly push him out of the league. One more incident and the writing will be on the wall for the Buccaneers to not re-sign him when his contract comes to an end.
Now we come to his play on the field. This season the Buccaneers have been widely inconsistent on offense and they find themselves struggling in the first quarter to get anything going. This could be traced back to Winston pumping himself in his pregame speeches. We have seen in the beginning of games that balls he throws are not on target and are often sailing over the receiver’s heads. It’s time for Winston to step down from his pregame speeches especially after that “Eating a W” speech. He has to take the Brady approach and be cool, calm and collected before the game and not pumped up to where his play is affected.
We can also make the case that during preseason he looked like more of a showman instead of a quarterback when the cameras were around. A case could be made he didn’t use the preseason to its fullest to become a more consistent and ready to play player but that can also be said about the rest of the team. The Buccaneers are going to need Winston to buckle down become a more consistent thrower and become the field general on offense.
We also have to consider outside forces that have affected Winston and will continue to hinder him unless changes are made. Let’s look at the offensive line and the running game. Both have underwhelmed this season and have put pressure on Winston to make plays even when the defense knows a pass is coming. The running backs have struggled to be effective in the run game and aren’t able to help the offense stay on the field and extend drives. The offensive line has also been struggling, both in run blocking and pass protection to let this talented offense be effective. This has led to Winston pressured to make plays, consistently getting hit and landing him on the injury sheet with a shoulder injury. If Winston is to be more successful, the offense has to improve in both areas because he will not be able to do it all on his own.
Coaching has also become an issue this year for the Buccaneers and the play call on offense has been especially bad. The offense has no identity and this has plagued the team. Dirk Koetter has been miserable in his play call this year and even with these issues he hasn’t given up play call duties. We’ve seen multiple times this year that the play call hasn’t been able to put this offense in particular in a place to succeed. With rumors of Jon Gruden coming back to the Buccaneers swirling around the team it might be for the best that the Buccaneers get his demanding coaching back. Gruden has asked a lot of his quarterbacks and with a talented quarterback like Winston (something Gruden never had with the team) he may be able to push Winston and the offense over the hump we thought they would get over this season.
Is Winston the quarterback of the future for this team? I believe he is if he is able to make the right changes to be more successful. We know that the off the field issues have to change and he has to learn to calm himself down before games so he comes out of the gate calm. He has the tools to be the franchise quarterback… now we have to see if he buckles down or lets things spiral out of control.