Yesterday’s Bucs, Saints game will be long remembered for a number of reasons.
Their meeting in the final game of 2014 as the Saints closed out a lackluster seven and nine season, their first of three straight, will be remembered in Tampa only for as long as Jameis Winston is permitted to play quarterback for the Bucs.
In 2014, the Bucs brilliantly “tanked” to ensure themselves the number one pick in the 2015 draft. They didn’t put Mike Evans on the field in the second half, rolling over and playing dead in the fourth quarter while the Saints scored 16 points to win 23-20.
The reward was the chance to pick Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota.
It looked like a terrific decision when Winston became the NFL Rookie of the Year. Now, not so much.
As the Bucs ponder making a $100 million investment in the off-season in him with a new contract, they have to wonder, “Is this a franchise quarterback?”
He’s thrown 39 interceptions in his short career. Only Phillip Rivers of the Chargers has thrown more during that time. He’s been injury prone as he was yesterday. And he’s been prone to repeated displays of immaturity as he was yesterday and has dating back to his college career at Florida State University.
Yesterday, he was marginally out-played by his replacement Ryan Fitzpatrick, a 35-year-old journeyman playing for his seventh team. While Drew Brees, who completed over 80 percent of his passes for the first time in his illustrious career in back-to-back games, continues to make a strong case for his retention here, Winston continues to make it harder for the Buccaneers’ front office to justify the investment in him there.
The immediate and long-term futures of each team will hinge on those decisions. And they won’t be easy ones.
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