Farewell, Jameis

Now that Tom Brady is officially the new starting quarterback of the Buccaneers, it’s time to say a few words about the man he’s replacing, Jameis Winston.

Winston won’t be back.  He already posted on social media that he’s moving on, saying he loves Tampa and “I look forward to seeing y’all again in February.”  Interpret that how you may.  As of this writing, another team has not picked him up.

Do I feel bad for him?  Sure, I do.  He had five years here as the starting quarterback, and didn’t always have the strongest supporting cast, especially in pass protection and pass defense.  He threw for almost 20,000 yards while he was in Tampa, including over 5,000 last year.  He threw 121 touchdowns in five years.

But he’s gone because of the mistakes.  The 30 interceptions did him in.  He threw 88 picks in five seasons.  He also lost 23 fumbles, and while you can argue that some of those were the result of poor offensive line play, the numbers speak volumes.  He cost his team a lot of wins, though he certainly isn’t the only Buccaneer I can say that about.

Some team will pick him up eventually.  He may have to compete for a starting job, or maybe not.  But I wish him well.  He’s got plenty of talent.  If there’s a team out there that can get him to make better decisions, then he definitely has a future in this league.

J.P.P. And Shaq Are Coming Back

Two big pieces of the Buccaneers’ star-studded defensive line are coming back.

First, the Bucs signed Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year contract. J.P.P. had 8.5 sacks in just 10 games last season.

Also, Tampa Bay placed the franchise tag on reigning sack leader Shaq Barrett.  He was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.  Shaq had 19.5 sacks in his first season with the Bucs.

It remains to be seen what happens to the other members of the front four: Ndamukong Suh and Carl Nassib.  Bruce Arians made it clear after the season ended that keeping the nucleus of this defense together was a priority.

Oh, and what about Jameis Winston?  He should know his fate by the end of the week, perhaps as early as Wednesday.  I don’t know how that it going to play out, but that will likely be the next big development in what’s already been a busy week.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Fitting End to the Bucs Season

Well, so much for the chance at finishing the season at .500.

The Bucs lost their 2019 finale in overtime to the Falcons, 28-22, in overtime.  The game ended with Jameis Winston throwing a pick-six on the first play of OT.  His first pass in a Tampa Bay uniform was an interception returned for a touchdown.  His career in Tampa may have ended the same way.

No, this wasn’t all on Jameis.  Matt Gay missed three field goals, bringing back memory of the Giants meltdown earlier in the year.  His performance Sunday should not be ignored whatsoever.

But let’s get back to Winston.  By now, you’ve probably read all the stats: he threw for over 5,000 yards.  He’s the first player to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season.  Seven of those INT’s were returned for touchdowns.  And now, Tampa Bay has to decide what to do with him.

I’ve waited until the end of the year to make my personal decision.  I’ve seen enough.  Winston has cost this team too many games by himself.  And while he is not responsible for every defeat over the last five years, he deserves a lot of the blame.  There is no justification for throwing 30 interceptions (and losing five fumbles) in your fifth season in the NFL.  This was, by far, the most picks he’s thrown in a season (the next highest total is 18 in 2016.)  If he did that in his rookie year, I’d cut him some more slack.  But he’s had five years to figure this out, and he hasn’t done it.

Winston’s critics will point to the still leaky defense, the aforementioned missed kicks, the record passing numbers he put up, the worry about starting from scratch with a new QB, etc.  But for me, all of those mistakes, and the inability to play consistently well, is too much for me to stomach anymore.  It’s time for Jameis to go.

Photo courtesy: USA Today

The Return of Bad Jameis

After a four-game winning streak, we’re back to talking about Bad Jameis.  You know, the one who makes all those mistakes and costs his team the game. To be honest, he never really disappeared; there was just enough Good Jameis to offset Bad Jameis.

Against the Texans on Saturday, Winston threw interceptions on the first two possessions.  The first turned into a pick-six.  The second one would’ve netted the same result if not for a penalty against Houston on the return.  He would throw two more picks in the game, and Peyton Barber contributed the fifth Tampa Bay turnover with a fumble that led to a Texans’ touchdown.  Winston also missed a couple of open receivers in the end zone on deep balls.

When you turn it over five times, you’re not going to win.  I’m still amazed when I saw them commit four turnovers against the Colts, yet still got the victory.

Don’t blame the defense for this one.  This unit played pretty darn well.  The offense – and special teams (Matt Gay had a field goal blocked) – handed the game to the Texans.  It was Bucs beating Bucs, again.

After the Bucs rattled off four wins in a row, I figured Jameis was sure to come back next season.  But then you see him have a game like this.  If you’re keeping track, he’s now up to 28 interceptions.  That is insane.  Even with one game remaining, I still don’t know for sure what the future holds for him in Tampa.

One more to go against Atlanta.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4 in a Row! Bucs Roll Past Lions

Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are on a four-game winning streak.  And they’re back to .500.  They won again today, beating the Lions in Detroit, 38-17.

The story of this one was Jameis Winston.  After throwing yet another interception on the opening drive of the game, he lit up the Lions defense the rest of the way.  He threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns.  He is the first player in NFL history to throw for over 450 yards in back-to-back games.

And he did it without the injured Mike Evans.  And the other star receiver – Chris Godwin – left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.  But Breshad Perriman stepped up with three TD’s today.  This is a guy who I wondered what the heck he was doing on the field early in the season.  But expect him to see a lot more action in the final two games with Evans and Godwin out.

But back to Winston for a moment.  He’s playing for his job.  And by winning four straight and five of the last six, he’s making the case for the Bucs keeping him beyond 2019, even with all those turnovers. And it’s even more impressive, considering the Bucs haven’t been able to run the ball. 

The Bucs have a chance to play spoiler next week against the Texans.  A reminder: that game is on Saturday afternoon, and will be televised on NFL Network.

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

My Day at Ray-Jay: Bucs Rally Past Colts

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I make one trip down to Tampa each year to see the Buccaneers in action, in person.  I just returned home, and will now offer my thoughts on Tampa Bay’s 38-35 win over Indianapolis.  I won’t go in-depth with stats here, because you all know by now what happened in the game.

Here’s the short version: this was the wildest Bucs game I have ever seen in person at Ray-Jay.  It wasn’t the prettiest, and it was far from perfect, but the entertainment value was a 10 on a scale of 1-to-10.

Would I see good Jameis or bad Jameis?  I saw the extreme versions of both.  First, the bad.  About 60 seconds after I told him from my seat, “don’t screw up,” he threw a pick.  A few plays later, it was 7-0 Colts.  Then came that moment in the second quarter when the Bucs were driving into Colts’ territory.  Jameis threw another bad interception, and I had a clear view down the near sideline where the defensive player was running.  Nothing but green grass.  I said, “goodbye,” long before he reached the end zone to cap off his pick-six. Winston also threw another INT that drew groans from us Bucs fans.

Now, let’s talk about the good Jameis.  He threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score on a quarterback sneak (if you’re a fan, you know how rare the latter is.)  And he did much of it without superstar Mike Evans, who caught one of the TD’s on a beautiful deep ball in the second quarter.  But Evans pulled his hamstring en route to the end zone, and was out for the rest of the game.  Tampa Bay was down 35-21 in the third quarter, and Winston led the Bucs to 17 unanswered points to pull it out.

Let’s talk about crowd – announced as just over 50,000.  There was a LOT of Indy blue, especially behind the Colts’ sideline.  A loud chant of “let’s go Colts!” even broke out at one point.  We booed them.  They shut up.  But they had their moment in the sun.  In the fourth quarter, they were nice and quiet when we got the “Tampa……Bay!!!!” chant going, which really is the only chant that matters when you’re at Ray-Jay.

Speaking of fans, I must talk about a guy who I will simply call “Fitz,” because he looked like former Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  If you look at the photo at the top of this post, he’s the one holding a beer, hugging another fan.  This guy was wasted from the get-go.  Every time Winston made a good play, he yelled, “that’s my quarterback!”  After the pick-six, I yelled to him, “is he still your quarterback?”  He seemed oblivious to that.  The booze kept flowing, and he kept yelling.  At one point, after getting another beer, he gave me a high-five as he was returning to his seat.  God bless you, Fitz.  You will go down as the most memorable fan from this game (in my book.)

And it would be ridiculous if I did not give a shout-out to the two ladies who accompanied me to the game.  I won’t mention their first names unless they want me to, in which case I will update this post.  But they are so much fun to hang out with.

So, it was an exciting (and warm) day at the stadium.  And any time it ends with a win, it’s even better.  Tampa, we’ll meet again next year.

Two Wins in a Row for the Bucs

Two wins in a row?  Three wins in the last four games?

Yes, the Buccaneers are playing much, much better these days.

They beat the Jaguars today in Jacksonville, converting turnovers into points to build an early lead, then making a big play in the fourth quarter to seal the victory when the Jags were trying to get back in it.

The biggest star of this game?  Look no further than rookie Devin White.  He had an interception that led to a touchdown.  Then he found the end zone when Shaq Barrett stripped the ball from Nick Foles, White picked it up and took it to the house.

Jameis Winston had a ho-hum kind of day.  But he did not turn the ball over, and that is the biggest stat of them all.

Over the last two days, the story for the Bucs has been the defense stepping up and making plays.  Who would’ve thought that?  The Colts come to Ray-Jay next Sunday, and Buccaneer Bri (a.k.a. me) will be there for that one.  I can’t wait.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers