There’s that old phrase: “A leopard cannot change his spots.”
No matter how hard you try sometimes, you remain who you are. And it looks like the Jameis Winston from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the same Jameis Winston at Florida State.
We remember the outlets of Winston at Florida State in a variety of issues, stemming from the major sexual assault accusation to stealing of crab legs at Publix, to yelling obscenities on campus. We remember on numerous issues Winston screaming at Jimbo Fisher as well. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made no concern when they selected him first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. I remember as he was drafted Winston kept on saying “I’m blessed.”
And I remember reading how the Buccaneers would keep him in close check so he wouldn’t fall off the railing.
Then training camp happened. Teammates, both rookies and veterans, were praising Winston’s attitude and leadership the whole time saying he was handling himself professionally. He had a very good rookie year throwing for over 4,000 yards and 22 TD’s as the Bucs were moving on the right track. We didn’t hear anything negative on Winston’s attitude in Tampa. In 2016, more of the same, over 4,000 yards and 28 TD’s and the Bucs were 9-7 and a team that many had considered in 2017 being a sleeper in the NFC South. And that maybe, just maybe, Winston would be considered elite in a division that now had 3 QB’s who had won an MVP.
And then the season actually played. Tampa Bay was 2-6 and in a division where New Orleans and Carolina were running away and Atlanta slowly starting to roll at that point, the Bucs season by all accounts was done. But Winston hadn’t played well before his injury, where he suffered against Arizona earlier, but people will remember in his injury against the Saints and before the game, doing something incredibly odd where he was licking his fingers saying “eat a W” which came off as a bit bizarre and childish rolled into one. And then after he was injured, Winston lost his cool and poked Marshon Lattimore as he got into it with teammate Mike Evans, then inexplicably taunting the rookie despite the Saints obliterating Tampa Bay. And that the relationship between him and Dirk Koetter is now reportedly strained.
The spots were still there. Just covered.
And now, this Uber incident in Arizona. I won’t get into the details of it, but now one of his buddies seems to have fallen on him, which makes it worse than before. Any Winston backer will say “there is no proof.” Well, given how the other incidents have come out, whether it is the screaming obscenities, the first allegation made, etc. happened, well if there’s smoke, there’s fire.
The NFL has already come out and said Winston will now be suspended the first three games of the season for this incident. And those three games? Division champion and rival New Orleans down in the Superdome. Then the Super Bowl champion Eagles. Then the Steelers. From all likelihoods, it looks like Tampa Bay will start the year 0-3 and Winston returns to face an improved Bears team in Chicago and then a road game in Atlanta. 0-5 now seems very possible at this point.
If Tampa Bay finishes somewhere between 5-11 and 3-13 this year, we know a few things will happen: Dirk Koetter won’t be in Tampa Bay. Personnel changes may be ahead as well. And the scope under Winston will be magnified. He probably won’t be cut as Tampa Bay already exercised his 2019 option. But there may be a chance the Bucs consider a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The biggest concern from a football standpoint is that everything that Jameis Winston had everything going for him in his first two seasons may have gone out the window. Can his teammates believe he is an actual leader on the field or trust him knowing about his on-field and off-field issues now? The Bucs thought they had a hold on Winston when he got out of college and thought they helped right the ship. And maybe they had that false sense that Winston had “grown up” and now are stuck in a bad situation.
And what is more complex is the Bucs have the second longest NFL playoff drought right now. Only the hapless Browns have a longer one. Given what division Tampa Bay is in, as the other three teams (Saints, Panthers, Falcons) are having high hopes for Super Bowl run and have stability at the quarterback spot, it is going to be very hard to crack that group right now.
So the question begs, is it time for the Bucs to move on from Jameis Winston? Honestly yes. I get finding franchise quarterbacks is very difficult (Jets, Browns, Cardinals), but you also want to have a franchise quarterback who doesn’t mess up the franchise. Winston hasn’t learned from his mistakes at Florida State and it really isn’t the Buccaneers business to tell him to straighten up, especially if they have a guy who has been with the team for four years now. And this guy, while putting up good numbers in each of his first three seasons, it isn’t always about numbers. It is more of “can you lead a team and set the example?” And so far, Winston hasn’t shown it and it looks like he doesn’t plan on showing it.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat