The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag.
Question: This question isn’t about what the Bucs “will” do with Jameis Winston or “should” do with Winston. Instead, here’s my question: Is there any way you could see that the Bucs can win consistently with Winston assuming he continues to struggle with turnovers?
Answer: Yes, the Bucs can win – that was proven in Sunday’s 38-35 win where Jameis Winston had three interceptions – but can they do it consistently? Can they overcome Winston’s turnovers enough to win a Super Bowl? That remains to be seen. Yesterday’s game proved something I have been saying for a while now, and that is, if Tampa Bay’s defense can help negate Winston’s turnovers with takeaways of its own, the Bucs have a chance to win.
People want to argue when I bring up Brett Favre, given the fact that he played in a different era, but who just so happens to be the NFL’s all-time leader in interceptions thrown. Yet, Favre was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Favre threw 336 career interceptions – 336! Winston with 81, would have too throw 255 more in his career to match Favre’s total. In his 20-year career, Favre had a 3.3 interception rate. Guess what Winston’s INT rate is? You guessed it – 3.3, which is the exact same number as Favre.
On Sunday, Winston became the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passed before the age of 26. Think about that. Winston has thrown for more yards before age 26 than anyone in the last 100 years of NFL football. And with his 111th TD on Sunday, Winston has thrown the second-most touchdowns in NFL history before the age of 26. The one player ahead of him? Legendary Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who had 117. With three games left, Winston is likely to be No. 1 in that category before the season is over.
A player doesn’t do those things by accident.
Now can Winston win consistently with those type of turnover numbers? Even after the brilliant career Favre had, he still only won one Super Bowl in those 20 years he played. And an argument could be made that had Favre been more careful and less turnover prone, he could have won even more titles. In fact, Favre’s last pass of his NFL career was an interception that ended the Vikings chance of reaching the Super Bowl in 2010.
I don’t know if Winston can win a Super Bowl throwing interceptions at the rate he does. But in 2015 if someone had a crystal ball and said that after five seasons Winston would have the most touchdowns and passing yards in NFL history before turning 26, there isn’t an NFL executive or fan who wouldn’t say, “Draft him now!”
Question: What contract would you offer Bucs QB Jameis Winston after a game like he had on Sunday?
Answer: Sunday’s 38-35 win against the Colts was really a microcosm of Winston’s five-year career. Busch Gardens, Disney or Universal Studios should design a roller coaster and call it, “The Jameis Winston Experience.” Ups, downs, twists, turns, back-flips, sudden stops and breakneck speeds all wrapped into one. The problem is, how many people would want to ride a roller coaster with this many unpredictable turns? It would be scary yet exciting all at once. And they better have the warning sign that says, those with high blood pressure and anxiety should consider not entering this ride.
Do Jason Licht and Bruce Arians enjoy roller coasters like “The Jameis Winston Experience” enough to get back on it in September of 2020? Will the ride become more tame? Is it re-designed to make it less frightening? Or does it stay the same? The one thing I believe is, if Arians and Licht decline to jump back on, there are plenty of other thrill seekers in NFL front offices who will pay their admission and eagerly jump in line to take a spin.
Personally, I would offer up a one-year deal to Winston, whether it be a transition or franchise tag, and see if I can smooth out the ride, and make it more family-friendly. The Bucs won’t be in a draft position to get LSU’s Joe Burrow, the only quarterback that looks like safe bet star of the future. The other options are to find a free agent to run this offense like Arizona did with Carson Palmer. But does a player like Andy Dalton make you want to ride that particular ride? Is it thrilling enough?
Offer Winston a one-year, $20 million deal with incentives that could drive it up in the top-tier of salaries for quarterbacks if certain incentives are met – particularly wins (more), and interceptions (fewer).
Question: The players are talking a lot about the culture in the locker room changing. Is that the truth or just talking points? Can the culture change last through what will undoubtedly be another offseason of change?
Answer: The changing of the culture isn’t just talking points. We are seeing it first hand right before our eyes. And it can sustain through the offseason if the Bucs’ front office can keep some of the key pieces together moving forward.
Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett must be back, along with outside linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib, who happens to be a captain. And don’t rule out defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh returning as well. Players and team sources I have talked to off the record have nothing but great things to say about what Suh brings to the table and what he has brought to the table this year.
Then there is Jameis Winston. Regardless of your opinion of Winston, even his harshest critics can’t argue his passion and will to win. Maybe he wants it too much. Winston doesn’t mind the money he earns playing football. I am certain he very much enjoys it. But Winston is a throwback type of player who plays football mainly because of his love for the game.
Winston would have fit in well in past generations of NFL players – guys who didn’t earn a ton of money, but did it because they loved it. I imagine even at holiday family reunions, Winston is the one getting a backyard game of football together – even as a professional. If the Bucs don’t bring Winston back in 2020, then they must find someone with the same love and passion for the game that Winston has.
The Bucs are figuring things out and continuity will be the catalyst for success moving forward. It won’t necessarily be easy give the salary cap situation, but as Scott Reynolds point out last week, it isn’t impossible.
Question: Hey, Mark. My question is do you have any insight on whether Bruce Arians “wants” to be back to coach next season. He’s already retired once and this season hasn’t gone exactly the way he thought. Also, any other coaching changes can we expect in 2020?
Answer: Good question, and one that I began asking myself when the Buccaneers were sitting at 2-6 just a few weeks ago. I also began asking around some of the sources in the building and the answer I got was a resounding, yes. The only thing that will stop Bruce Arians from returning in 2020 is a serious health issue, or him getting fired. And according to those around him, the health is just fine, and ownership loves what they are seeing from the team as of late.
Arians has pride. The last thing he would have wanted on his coaching resumé was a one-and-done disappointing failure of a season in Tampa Bay. Even had the Buccaneers continued to lose and had finished at 3-13 or 4-12, that would have actually been even more of a reason he would want to return according to those I spoke with last month. In fact, had the Bucs won a Super Bowl this year by some miracle, that would have prompted another retirement from Arians even more so than an 0-16 season.