2-Point Conversion: Winston’s Turnovers Doom Bucs Abroad
It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. The Bucs

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: Winston’s Turnovers Doom Bucs Abroad

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw a career-high five interceptions and fumbled twice against Carolina in a 37-26 rout by the Panthers. The loss drops the Bucs to 2-4 on the year, while a four-game winning streak by the Panthers has them at 4-2 and ready to challenge New Orleans for NFC South supremacy.

Winston just can’t shake the fact that he’s been a turnover machine dating back to his days at Florida State.

Winston’s first pass in the United States since joining the NFL after being drafted first overall in 2015 was a pick-six. On Sunday in London, his first European pass attempt was also intercepted, although James Bradberry didn’t take this one back for a Panthers touchdown. It just set up a field goal to give Carolina a 3-0 lead – a lead the Panthers would never relinquish. Carolina led 34-10 early in the fourth quarter before Tampa Bay rallied when it was too late.

Some things never change.

Winston, who has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season, remains a turnover waiting to happen. The last time he had a performance this bad was when he had three interceptions and a fumble in a 38-35 loss at Cincinnati last year – a game in which he was benched.

The Bucs turned the ball over seven times against the Panthers and were minus-six in the turnover battle. Punt returner Bobo Wilson had a costly turnover on a muffed punt in the fourth quarter after the Bucs were attempting a comeback after only trailing by 16 points.

Winston’s turnovers aren’t the only things that don’t seem to change. Tampa Bay also can’t seem to win abroad.

The Bucs haven’t won a game in London in three tries. Aside from falling to the Panthers this year, New England beat Tampa Bay 35-7 in the Bucs’ first trip to London, and then saw Chicago triumph over Tampa Bay 24-18 in 2011.

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly
Panthers LB Luke Kuechly – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs also haven’t won a home game in 2019, as this year’s trip to London was technically a home game – even though it was overseas. As a result, the Bucs are now 2-4 on the season and 1-2 in the division, losing back-to-back games against NFC South foes New Orleans and Carolina.

Winston was playing his best football a few weeks ago when he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after throwing four touchdowns against the Rams. Now he is suddenly playing his worst as Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said to Winston, who was sacked seven times, was attempting to do too much once again.

“Throw the damn ball away,” Arians said. “He has a habit of trying to be Superman, and that’s been a problem in the past. The fumbles haven’t occurred this year until today, but again, trying to make something out of nothing, and it’s just a matter of knowing when to quit on a play.

“The fumbles, we have to get rid of those. We have to start throwing balls away and we don’t need to take those sacks.”

Winston finished the day completing 30-of-54 passes for 400 yards with one touchdown and five picks. Not all of his interceptions were entirely Winston’s fault, as Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans didn’t fight for the ball hard enough on Winston’s first pass.

“We had a really good game plan in and didn’t execute,” Evans said. “I played like [expletive].”

When asked if this was his worst game as a pro, Winston told on himself and uttered an uncomfortable truth, “No, I’ve had a lot of bad games, but hopefully I’ll play more good games than bad games.”

Arians, known as the “quarterback whisperer,” has to reach Winston and reach him fast, as the Bucs QB is in a critical contract year – and at 2-4 the 2019 season is quickly slipping away. If Winston continues to have multiple-turnover days like he did on Sunday the Bucs won’t have a choice other than to pass on signing him to a long-term contract extension.

“As the quarterback, you can’t have a bad day,” Winston said. “That’s just the business because if a quarterback has a bad day, then things are escalated and we lose the game.”

STATEMENT 2: Winston Was Under Siege All Day

Winston’s bad day wasn’t all on him. Evans didn’t play his best game despite catching nine passes for 96 yards, and Tampa Bay’s offensive line was awful in pass protection for most of the game as Carolina registered 10 quarterback hits, in addition to seven sacks and five interceptions.

“We didn’t pick up their pressures when we needed to,” Bucs left guard Ali Marpet said. “It was really just [losing] one-on-one match-ups and that’s never good enough. We’re still very frustrated. We’re still very pissed off. It wasn’t just one side of the line or the other. Everybody played really bad and lost their one-on-one match-ups. We’ve got to play better as a unit and we have to play better individually for this offense to work.”

After getting sacked six times in last week’s 31-24 loss at New Orleans, Winston suffered six sacks – in the first half – against Carolina. Former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy beat right guard Ali Marpet for a sack to set up second-and-17 in the first quarter before nose tackle Dontari Poe sacked Winston for a loss of four to set up third-and-21 as the Panthers jumped out to a 10-0 lead.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Things didn’t get any better in the second quarter as McCoy, who finished with a game-high 2.5 sacks, and Bruce Irvin split a sack of Winston before Irvin beat right tackle Josh Wells and hit Winston’s arm as he was throwing, which caused a wobbly pass to get intercepted by former Bucs cornerback Javien Elliott at the Tampa Bay 36. Four plays later, McCaffrey scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on a 25-yard screen pass to give the Panthers a 17-7 lead.

The Bucs threatened to score in the second quarter, but once Tampa Bay got into Carolina’s red zone, defensive tackle Vernon Butler recorded back-to-back sacks and forced fumbles, the second of which was recovered by Irvin at the Panthers’ 29-yard line to snuff out a Bucs’ scoring opportunity.

Things just couldn’t go right for Winston as he heaved a perfect deep throw to Evans, who had gotten behind the defense but couldn’t bring in the ball after bobbling it several times. Had Evans made the catch, the Bucs would have had the ball at the Panthers’ 25-yard line.

“Absolutely, those are plays I’m known for making,” Evans said. “I just did a bad job of tracking the ball today. I could have had a couple. Jameis threw it up and trusted me and I didn’t come down with it. I have to be better.”

Winston has been hit around 20 times and sacked 13 times in the past two weeks. He’s growing increasingly uncomfortable in the pocket and that’s leading to indecision – as well as poor decisions from Tampa Bay’s quarterback.

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Where Will The 2-4 Bucs Wind Up?

Over the past decade the Buccaneers have started the season 2-4 four times, including this year. Does that provide an indication of where we think Tampa Bay’s record will wind up? You bet it does.

Tampa Bay has finished no better than 7-9 in any season in which it started off 2-4, and that was in Greg Schiano’s first season as Bucs head coach in 2012. The last two times resulted in a double-digit losing season.

2017: 5-11
2015: 6-10
2012: 7-9

The Bucs still have 10 games to go after their bye week, which comes at a great time. But with games coming up against winning teams like Seattle (5-1), New Orleans (5-1), Houston (4-2) and Indianapolis (3-2), winning six out of the last 10 games to get to 8-8 seems unrealistic at the moment.

QUESTION 2: Why Is Wilson Returning Punts?

Tampa Bay has a very stagnant return game all season under new special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. While most of the kickoffs that have been sent T.J. Logan’s way have ended up in the end zone for touchbacks, the Bucs’ punt return game has been awful as well.

Bucs PR Bobo Wilson
Bucs PR Bobo Wilson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bobo Wilson entered Sunday’s game averaging just 3.3 yards per return. Against Carolina, Wilson averaged a paltry two yards per punt return and muffed two punts, with his second one becoming a turnover in the fourth quarter – just when the Bucs had cut the Panthers’ lead to 16 and made a defensive stop.

“Yeah, the punt drop was huge in the game,” Arians said. “We were fighting back, got within two scores I think at that point in time, and had it going pretty good. Just catch the damn ball. It’s not that hard.”

When I asked Arians after the game why Wilson was still returning punts despite not doing anything at all in the return game this season he said, “Nobody has taken it from him yet. That’s the problem. We’ll be looking at it.”

There is a reason why Wilson was an undrafted free agent. He just doesn’t have the explosiveness necessary to make the first guy miss or turn the corner and return a punt up the sidelines. And if he can’t catch the ball, what good is he doing back there returning punts?

It’s time to give rookie Scotty Miller or T.J. Logan a shot at punt returns. And if Arians wants to send a message to his team about making mistakes he could cut Wilson, who doesn’t do much as a reserve receiver, either.

Speaking of reserve receivers, how far has Justin Watson fallen down the depth chart? Wilson and Miller both have seen more action than Watson has as the team’s third receiver, replacing the injured Breshad Perriman.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: There Will Be Changes Coming In The Bye Week

I’m not exactly sure what will change in Tampa Bay during the bye week, but I would suspect a roster change and/or a depth chart change of some kind to be made. The coaches and front office don’t even know right now because they have yet to look at the film and do the necessary post-game self-scouting, but losing two games in a row, and three of the team’s last four games should be cause for alarm in Tampa Bay.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis
Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Arians is not one to stand by and let teams flounder. He’s the kind of head coach that likes to shake things up rather than let things stand pat. Maybe it’s parting ways with Wilson or promoting rookie cornerback Jamel Dean or giving him some more snaps. Benching rookie Mike Edwards for veteran free safety Anthony Adams was a smart move as the secondary seemed to be a little tighter in holding Panthers QB Kyle Allen to 227 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs secondary had surrendered over 300 yards passing in each of the last four games.

Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul will practice next week while the Bucs have the entire week off to rest during the bye. Should he be cleared to play Tampa Bay will need to make a corresponding roster move whenever he is activated to the 53-man roster. But I sense another change or two is coming down at One Buc Place in order to shake things up during the bye week.

PREDICTION 2: Tampa Bay Won’t Finish Higher Than Third In The Division

Last week I predicted that the Bucs’ loss at New Orleans will cost Tampa Bay a shot at the NFC South title. That’s looking more and more prophetic. Losing back-to-back division games – this week to Carolina in London – drops the Bucs to 1-2 in the NFC South and will ultimately cause Tampa Bay to finish no better than third in the division this year.

New Orleans is now 5-1 and 1-0 in the division, and Carolina has won four games in a row to improve to 4-2 on the season and is now 1-1 in the division. There are still a lot of games left, but the Saints and Panthers are winning games by creating takeaways on defense and with stellar play from their backup quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s defense isn’t generating enough takeaways and the Bucs’ starting quarterback had an awful performance in a must-win game. This team seems destined for somewhere between 5-11 and 7-9 this season, unfortunately.

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Bucnut2

WOW- this was a captan obvious post. The Bucs won’t finish higher than 3rd int division??? Boy that’s insightful. I think the bucs will be lucky to win 6 games.

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cgmaster27

I figured this team at 9-7 this year at best. More reasonably 8-8. I didnt think playoffs with this team, but I expected improvement, and were not seeing it. There have been some coaching gaffes, even on Arians. But this team lacks talent at very importany positions. Without blitzing, noone can get to the qb, and even then, its getting blocked up. We’ve neglected the trenches on oth sides for a few years and it’s biting us in the ass and thats on licht. What happens if this thing tanks? Does Licht go and Arians stays? We would clealry be… Read more »

surferdudes

So Scott, what about your boy Jason Licht? Think it was a good move keeping him because he delivered Arains? Still think he knows how to build a team, starting with picking Jameis Winston as his franchise QB? I think Licht should’ve been sent packing after last years shit show, do you still think extending him was a good idea? He’s your boy, what do you think? If Winston was under siege all day, who put this O line together? If we couldn’t pressure the QB, who built the D line? Who drafted the whole secondary? Please Scott, Lichts your… Read more »

cgmaster27

Well in terms of picking jameis. Mariota got benched today for Tennessee, so it might be they both flame out.

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Pete Wood

My two bold predictions.
1. Bucs win seven games this year.
2. Bucs draft a QB in next year’s draft.

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chefboho

It’s obvious a shake up has to happen. I hate the thought of starting a complete overhaul yet again, but something has to happen. I agree that this is to fall on Licht if it doesn’t come together and start clicking. They constantly beat themselves, commit stupid penalties, untimely turnovers, holding calls, you name it. I wanted Winston to really succeed, but you can’t defend a game like that. The real problem is that they have such desperate needs on both sides of the trenches that if they need to spend a high pick on a QB, then your behind… Read more »

Allanh1

So over Jamies..im a fan since 98.im 33…I don’t remember seeing a worse QB play in my 21 years of watching this team. JW is literally putting up circa early franchise Bucs’ numbers..I thought dilfer and Freeman were bad…

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mark2001

“More good games than bad game”

And there lies the problem… newsflash Jameis….about one game like two games you have had this year is all a franchise QB can have. More than bad is a recipe for losing football…. 8-8 football. If that is what he thinks, maybe we need to find a new franchise QB?

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Horse

How do you not talk about Hargreaves getting burned over and over! I would expect some serious changes at one Buc place this coming week. Let’s review our needs: Play Griffin and let’s see whether or not he can play in the NFL. We need to pick up another quarterback from someone’s practice squad. Demote Hargreaves and move on; let these young guys play ahead of Hargreaves. Got to start having tryouts at right tackle for Dotson’s replacement. I know he’ll be back soon, but he will also get injured again. Will JPP bring something to the 3-4 scheme; probably… Read more »

EastEndBoy

I’m not sure about any meaningful changes coming – Licht has never made a meaningful in-season move in his career…none, not one. Sure Wilson might be cut – whoopie – when was the last time we had a dangerous return man…. Maybe they’ll even bench Winston…for the formidable Ryan Griffin? Licht isn’t going to acquire help – Davis getting burned by WRs we’ve never heard of will be the norm. VHIII tackling his man after a 20 yard catch will be the norm. Murphy Bunting…whatever he’s been doing to earn the nickname “toast” will be the norm. Our OLIne is… Read more »

Dman

Licht has had his chances and more. Time to move on. Overhaul time.

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jiggyjoe

I love Bucs football, but I will say I know very little about producing a Superbowl winning team. I do know this, if after 5 years you have not figured out how to be a success at something, you never will. Winston will never change. He still plays like he is in college at the Orange Bowl. He will always play that way. Changing the players and coaches around him will not change him. Look at the QBs who we have played in the last month. All not good enough to be starting QBs in the NFL. They are all… Read more »

matador

Wells was absolutely atrocious at RT. Go back and watch him during each snap of the first half, his 5 yard retreat set the defender up to rip him out of the way and get to Winston. This was the primary cause of Winston bailing on the pocket too early – everyone worries about the blind side but when Winston can see the pressure coming he freaks out and makes dumb decisions. Wells is 28 but plays like a practice squad player. Why was he playing? You can thank Bust Licht of course, for thinking we could start a 34… Read more »

thegeebo

Football is won (and lost) in the trenches. I know it, the media know it, the fans know it, and successful football organizations know it. Boy genius Jason Licht and former Coach of the Year Bruce Arians apparently do not. Every off-season, I have called for the Bucs to spend their first pick (and usually their 2nd and possibly 3rd as well) on trench players. This never happens. Instead, we take a slow undersized CB in VH3, an undersized OLB, a kicker(!), a TE, a safety, and a whole bunch of lousy cornerbacks. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be… Read more »

seat26

Sit Winston. Start Griffin. Make ROJO the full-time starter. Start throwing the ball to OJ. He had two very good years, he didn’t just forget how to play football. Get a right tackle who can play. Draft Offensive lineman next year. Draft a QB if Griffin is not the answer. Please start drafting DEs early. And trade for or draft a corner. Take the Drafting responsibilities away from Licht.

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Allanh1

Right on 26. How is that so Fn hard for Jason to do?

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seat26

I don’t see how we get to 8-8.

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Allanh1

“We had a really good game plan in and didn’t execute,” Evans said. “I played like [expletive].”

So, you play when you want? Man, I wish I could slack off at work and not get any repercussions. Must be nice.

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jshumaker

Just let us know when Ja-miss has been benched

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rocky

Well. What’s next? Some folks are calling for Ryan griffin but this is Bruce Arians here. I feel like If he pulls the plug on Jameis he puts in gabbert before griffin. I think Arians is ultra competitive and gabbert gives us a better shot to win. With that being said I don’t think we are Jameis being benched. In all my life I have never and I mean never seen a qb so up and down. Who the hell wins player of the week with 4 touchdowns and great efficiency and then throws 5 picks the next. Blows my… Read more »

surferdudes

There’s only two ways to really make change to your team at this point in a season. Fire the coach, or bench the QB. I don’t see any of those things happening. BA said himself, once you make that change at QB, there’s no going back. He’s right. If Winston is benched now, it means it’s over for him in T.B.. BA isn’t going down that road just yet, because it might lead to a bigger change, new coach. Arain’s was hired for the soul reason of turning Jameis into the franchise QB we all hoped he would be. If… Read more »

Dman

Right on all counts. That said there was some acknowledgement that this was going to be a “prove it” year with all the one year contracts they inked last offseason. At this point nobody’s happy.

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Horse

Good morning all Buc fans. Did I have a nightmare last night about our Bucs! OMG, I’m not dreaming, it was real! Here we go again. Any old timer Buc fan knows this song and dance that BA is going to play in his next Video Press Conference? “We can fix this!” That will be plain BS once again! We fans that are still here from the 1976 wars, 1980 wars, 1990 wars, 2003 glory year, back to the 2010 wars, and about to enter the 2020 wars; know more about how to run a football team than any Head… Read more »

Horse

This is Horse,Sorry, Last line should have said: Go somewhere else with your snow shit!

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kram0789

Jason Licht (Lite) Must Go NOW! Let’s review the last 5 first round picks. First we should acknowledge that the NFL is a passing league and first round picks should be reserved for premium positions, which are those that affect the passing game. Those positions are QB, WR, LT, Pass Rusher and CB. 2015 Jameis Winston. Erratic, does not see the whole field, loses more games than he wins. BUST 2016 Vernon Hargreaves, Too small, too slow to be a shut-down corner yet another example of this teams inability to evaluate talent. BUST. 2017 O.J. Howard, Tight end is not… Read more »

MojoU

I’ve been on the fence for a while regarding Lason Licht, but I think his time as GM should be coming to an end. I don’t see the Bucs re-signing Winston after his regression this year. That means we need to be thinking about a new starter at QB. Depending on just how bad this season goes, you might be able to draft a top QB prospect next year. Or you might have to find a veteran in free agency to build around for a while. I personally don’t like the idea of starting a rookie QB next year with… Read more »

Please see rookie Kyler Murray, and see all the other backup qbs winning in the league by protecting the ball. If you have a NFL QB that avoids turnovers you always have a shot to win. WINSTON CANT DO THAT !!!!!!!!!! MOVE ON from him during the bye week.

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MrThrityTwo

They aren’t benching Winston this season with an OL like that. He had a really bad game but still was fighting till the end. His stats have been solid (wk 2-5) and the team should be 3-3 sans a brain fart by Arians to take a delay penalty before a FG attempt. Here’s Sch to Date: Wk1 SF 5-0 Wk2 Car 4-2 Wk3 NYG 2-4 Wk4 Rams 3-3 Wk5 N.O. 5-1 (D gives up 97 yd drive) Wk6 Car 4-2 (D gives up 99 yd drive) Next Seattle Wk7 at 5-1 Bad teams lose to good teams – Sans NYG… Read more »

tjhuth

Once again, Winston was back to his old ways, not scanning his reads, taking too long to decide, and throwing into crowds. His contract absolutely, positively, must not be renewed. I disagree with previous posters that Arians is tied to Winston’s success. He was brought in to TRY and fix him OR decide if his contract should be renewed. I believe (and hope) Arians doesn’t get fired because of Winston. That would be a HUGE mistake IMO. Even the greatest horse whisperer can’t turn a Morgan horse into a thoroughbred — no matter how much he whispers “you can do… Read more »

MrThrityTwo

tjhuth – Arians is not getting rid of Winston. His OC is doing on the job training, the OL is likely worst in NFL by far; Winston got rattled and had a bad game. But with no D secondary and that brutal OL the team won’t win much. When Winston plays well like weeks 2-4 they should be competitive, but they have alot of gaping holes and QB is not the starting point.

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Allanh1

We keep seeing the lack of physicality from the 2ndary,but these are the guys we drafted.. I dont get it..seriously..

Did the scouts not due thier due diligence and watch tape on the guys going up against bigger receivers? Were they alphas on the field? Were they not afraid? What school they came from? Thier height?! Injury history? What defense they played in and if it would fit in the one we play? I’m so perplexed..

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MrThrityTwo

NO Licht did not – he’s horrible 27-53 before 2019, now 29-57.

#1 NEED is OL – The draft Secondary and get ZIP – 86 this GM hack ASAP.

Instead he gets a 5 yr extension ….. REALLY?

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buddah

Overreaction Monday: This one was all on Winston and the offensive line. The Buccaneers had six more first downs (23-17) and 139 more yards gained. The game plan was to stop McCaffrey and to stop the Panthers on third down, then grind out a win. In this game, on the whole the Buccaneers did their job. They held Carolina to only 268 yards; they held McCaffrey to 31 yards on 21 carries. They held the Panthers to 3 for 15 on third down, which is excellent. But of course you’re not going to win a game with -6 in turnovers.… Read more »

MrThrityTwo

The Bucs did not stop Carolina – At ALL. Yes the turnovers cost the game but Carolina was moving at will, including a 99yd TD drive. D is mush, secondary invisible and OL is Horrendous. Our OC has no experience and it is showing. Winston tries to over compensate (and implodes) but 2 of those INTs are on Mr Softy Mike Evans and he also dropped a 60yd bomb in stride in his 2 arms and hands and he drops a sure TD. Winston not a good day but he’s getting ZERO help. OL, DL, Secondary, Special Teams, Evans …..… Read more »

CPOUSN

Those who think we should keep using Winston as QB don’t remember Vinnie Testaverde and that 5 year experiment. Add that 5 years with Winston’s 5 years and you get 10 years of PAINFUL BEING A BUC FAN. Pay an established QB for now and bring up others in the draft. It seems to be working out quite well for the 49ers.

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