Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Tampa Bay 26, New Orleans 19.
The Buccaneers are now 1-0 in the NFC South.
Notice that they are no longer cellar dwellers in the division.
While it’s only Week 2 and there are five more games against NFC South opponents on the schedule, it was refreshing to see Tampa Bay snap an eight-game losing streak in the division dating back to 2013 and end a seven-game skid to Drew Brees and the Saints.
And that’s exactly why the Bucs spent the first overall draft pick on quarterback Jameis Winston on April 30.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
After going winless in the NFC South a year ago, Tampa Bay had to draft a franchise quarterback that could go toe-to-toe and throw-for-throw with the likes of Carolina’s Cam Newton, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Brees. From 2009-14, the Bucs have been a paltry 10-26 within the division.
Without faring well in the division, there is virtually no hope for a playoff berth. Without winning the division and getting a home playoff game there is little hope of winning on the road and advancing in the postseason.
Tampa Bay has been in last place in the NFC South in each of the last four years, and in five of the past six seasons. The only time the Bucs weren’t last was when they finished 10-6 in 2010, but as fate would have it that year they would miss the playoffs and wind up third in the division as the Saints finished 11-5 that year and the Falcons won the division with a 13-3 record.
Tampa Bay hoped Josh Freeman, the team’s first-round pick in 2009, would be the answer at the quarterback position, but he was just 6-11 in the NFC South before his Bucs career flamed out in 2013.
Mike Glennon, the team’s third-round draft pick in 2013, went 1-4 against the division during his rookie season and was 0-1 as a starter last year. Veteran Josh McCown was awful as a starting quarterback last year with a 1-10 record and had a 0-5 mark against NFC South foes as a starter.
Enter Winston, who got his first NFL win against the division rival Saints in his first try on Sunday and played better than the future Hall of Fame quarterback he was squaring off against. Winston, who completed just 48 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions in last week’s 42-14 loss to Tennessee, had a great bounce back game in New Orleans.
Winston completed 14-of-21 passes (66.6 percent) for 207 yards with one touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown with one fumble while not throwing any interceptions at New Orleans, and compiled a career-high 114.6 QB rating.
He threw screen passes to Charles Sims and Doug Martin. Winston threw mid-range strikes to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Vincent Jackson. He threw deep to Louis Murphy and Mike Evans.
Winston was great on play-action passes, good on scrambles and fair on third down. In just his second NFL game, he was good enough to help the Bucs out-gain the Saints 333-323 yards despite having 10 less plays on offense.
Brees wasn’t his usual Buc-slaying as he was sacked three times by Bucs defensive end Jacquies Smith and once by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Smith forced Brees to fumble twice on Sunday.
Brees also threw a big second half interception to Tampa Bay safety Chris Conte in addition to a touchdown, while completing 24-of-38 passes for 255 yards and compiling a QB rating of 80.5.
On Sunday, Winston was the better quarterback. This is the beginning of something special – or so the Bucs hope.
There has been too little hope at the quarterback position in Tampa Bay when it comes to playing NFC South opponents. Ryan and Brees have been too precise and too special in compiling a 9-3 record against the Bucs since 2009. Thanks to Winston, Brees is now 9-4 over the past seven years.
Newton has been too athletic and too formidable in compiling an 8-4 mark against Tampa Bay since 2009. Winston will get his first crack at Carolina – and an eagerly-awaited home win – on October 4 at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs finished with a hugely disappointing 2-14 record last year. They were so bad that Tampa Bay had the worst record in the NFL, which turned into the first overall pick in the draft. And that turned into Winston.
“Last year we got two wins the whole season, so we’re halfway there,” Winston said. “It was a good road division win. … We bounced back. We got a division road win at a tough place. It was amazing.”
Last year the Bucs found a way to lose games like the one in New Orleans on Sunday. In fact, Tampa Bay blew an 11-point lead last year in the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and wound up losing 37-31 in overtime.
Thanks to Winston’s playmaking ability, the tremendous amount of growth he displayed between Week 1 and Week 2 and an improved showing by Tampa Bay’s defense and the offensive talent around him, the Bucs clung to a seven-point lead this time around to put the Saints in the NFC South cellar heading into Week 3.
After compiling a 26-1 record as a starter at Florida State and taking home the Heisman Trophy en route to winning the BCS National Championship in 2013, Winston proved himself as one of college football’s all-time greatest quarterbacks. He’s a winner, and that’s exactly the reason why the Bucs drafted him – for games like Sunday’s in New Orleans.
“I just want to go out there and do my job and be a game manager right now,” Winston said. “Who knows what the future holds right now? I just want to be a game manager and put our team in the best possible situation for us to win.”
Winston wasn’t just a game manager against the Saints. He was a playmaker and made his share of plays in New Orleans – the kind of plays that the Bucs haven’t seen from the quarterback position for quite some time.
The kind of plays that put the rest of the NFC South on notice that Tampa Bay will be climbing the division ladder this year with Winston at the helm.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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@example.com
There is an article on ESPN that’s titled – Bucs Find Formula: Don’t ask Winston to do too much!
The article leads with these words “This script should be printed out and distributed to every office inside One Buc Place.Run the ball a ton, keep Jameis Winston’s throws manageable and watch the progress.
I agree wholeheartedly, but I wouldn’t hold him back too much either. I thought the Bucs got conservative way too early against the Saints in the 4th qtr yesterday.
I also noticed something yesterday – Winston is very good in play action and is accurate on the run. I recall (regrettably) our last 10 win season where Freeman thrived in rollouts using play action employing the TE (everybody remembers who that was). Winton isn’t fast but he is elusive (dude’s got moves) and the Winston/Sefarian-Jenkins play action could be huge.
Don’t do too much, but exploit the things that work best. Still waiting to see the variety in Koetter’s offense. Not a complaint but wanting to see the first play something other than Doug Martin up the middle. #stayingpatient
That was the plan in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 26-19 road win against the New Orleans Saints, and they should keep it until a defense forces otherwise.
agree completely. Martin is a good back. But, doesn’t have the durability to keep pounding it up the middle. I would like to see some changes there.
That, and have them start selling the play-action. If Martin is a big portion of the formula, sell it and use it.
Winston is never going to have high stats like Mariota will our friend Pinkstob loves so much. Winston reminds me of another Doug Williams and I’ll take that every day because you know at anytime they can make a big play. He’s a rookie and has much to learn this year and the next. One game made a big difference for me as I was really was doubting Lovie Smith and his defensive scheme. It was far from perfect, but just like Winston they can make the big plays at the right time. Of course for fans it’s going to be heart attack city once again, just like the old Bucs in their heyday. This win meant a lot for me and I’m sure others as it gave me hope we are on the track to get better and wining will come easier. Go Bucs!
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What a difference a day makes, not to mention a week. I picked Cleveland this week, figuring Pettine would not make our same mistakes, and Mariota would get his NFL moment. His stat line looked good, but the one that matters W, was missing. People were so quick to define careers after one game. I do agree with Mac, we need to loosen the reins on Winston. He himself alluded to that. They want me to be a game manager, but we’ll see what the future holds. The future looks bright.
Great to see a win. I haven’t posted much because their first loss was so devastating that any thing I had to say would have been piling on. I too agree with mac, bring Winston along gradually. Run the ball and play good defense but don’t overload the rookie with more than he can handle . I believe Koetter understands this. I disagree with Pewter assessment of Evans. He was on a limited basis and for that reason it’s not fair to rate him as a disappointment. I like the way they are using Martin. Keep him healthy, it’s a long season. Go Bucs
He’s still going to have good and bad games the entire season… That’s what rookies do. He is willing to learn, work hard and he will mature as a person and a player. Aikman went 1-15 his first year, Eli looked like a bust for the first five years of his career. Rodgers sat on the bench for years before getting his chance to start. Let’s play the long game with Winston. He’s got all of the attributes and tools to be a good/great QB in the NFL. As Bucs fans, we are the only team not to have a QB who has won 40 games with the Bucs. That is a franchise with no understanding of patience. Let him be a rookie. As for Mariota, I wish him well too… He’s in the AFC, so there’s no reason to need lock Winston & Mariota together in this never ending comparison battle throughout their careers. Their success and failure are dependent on a million different factors as time moves forward. Football is a team game. Just because one is more successful, doesn’t mean that his success would have been guaranteed on the other team. I’m happier now than I’ve been in years since we have drafted Winston. I just hope the franchise has the patience to see it through this time.
Well Buc Fans This is a great win in week 2. I think James Winston May Be the Real Deal. Everyone played great. Next stop Texans and Ryan Mallet. Regardless of the rest of the season games I see Promise young qb. And Next year through the draft Tampa will get their Pass Rusher of the future.Go Bucs
I agree with Mac. Thought the coaches went too conservative too early. Stay patient with this offense. Good things will come.
Pass rusher of the future, Martinii?
Isn’t 3 sacks yesterday and four on the season a good indication we already have one?
Everyone keeps lamenting the loss of Michael Bennett but he had yet to crack the 10 sack a year barrier and he’s up in Seattle demanding a raise.
However, I do agree with you about the development of Winston.
There is no reason to start throwing the ball all around the field. Develop the young man slowly.
It appears he has put his youthful indiscretions and behavior behind him and lets not forget, he’s barely 21 yo.
Loved the way the defense responded yesterday.
I thought for sure we were going to give away another 4th quarter lead but thanks to two FA acquisitions in Henry Melton and Chris Conte, who many morons questioned, we were able to hold onto the win.
Lovie coached to win the game which I’m ok with. The defense was playing well and there was no need to risk throwing the ball with a young QB, late on the road in a game we had under control. The playbook will gradually open up once Evans is back full speed and Jameis gets more comfortable. Good win and lets start scheming up the Texans, its on to Week 3.
Let’s wait and see what he does against a Texans’ 3-4 defense that has JJ Watt going up against our rookie LT. Will he stay level headed or resort to his bad habits of throwing off if his back foot and forcing the football?
We performed much better across the board yesterday. The o-line was protecting Winston and opening holes for Martin/Sims, d-line was pressuring Brees, LBs and Secondary were good in coverage. Great performance all around! I too, am waiting for the day we see Koetter open up the playbook. I’m good with being patient and letting Winston develop first though. Next week will be a test of our offense but our defense should have a great chance at having a good game and keeping us in there if the offense struggles. Go Bucs!
what a difference a week makes
I thought Lovie got a little conservative in the 4th quarter but he probably didn’t expect to give the Saints the opportunities that came with Winston’s and Martin’s fumbles. Speaking of fumbles. Anyone notice the three Mariota had on Sunday? For those enamored with the Titans QB. Why don’t those count against him? A turnover is still a turnover.
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