Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.

Sikkema’s Stat(s) of the Week

So let’s cut the bull. How hurt is Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston?

Here’s the timeline of what we’ve seen and have been told.

It all started back in Week 6 when the Buccaneers traveled to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Cardinals. In the first quarter, Winston was flushed out of the pocket and taken down by Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones. Winston got the ball out of his hand in time, but landed hard on his throwing shoulder. Winston went on to play two more series – unsuccessful ones, points-wise – but was then replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick midway through the second quarter due to Winston’s own decision to take himself out. Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said after the game that Winston came to him and said that he didn’t think he could get enough juice on the ball because of soreness in his shoulder after the hit and the decision was made that Fitzpatrick should take his place because of it.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

During the following week, Koetter told us that Winston had an low grade AC sprain in his throwing shoulder. The team was not sure if it would keep Winston out for any games, but said that with that kind of low grade sprain, there was no way to further damage that exact injury, barring a hit like that happening again. Winston then missed the first two days of practice that week, but practiced fully Friday.

Winston was announced as the starting quarterback for the team’s Week 7 game against the Bills on that Friday and did end up starting in Buffalo. During the contest, though the team lost, Winston played very well. His coach even said that it was one of the best performances he’s seen his young quarterback play in his NFL career. Winston went 32-for-44 in that game with 384 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a quarterback rating of 112.3.

The following week, Winston once again missed the first day of practice. We were told that they were just holding him out for rest and that they would see if he could throw the next day. The next day came to pass and Winston again did not throw. We were then told that the team was just trying to follow the same schedule that gave Winston’s shoulder rest and enabled him to play a great game like he did the week before. The media asked if Winston had suffered any set backs in the Buffalo game and was told no. Winston then practiced the Friday before the Carolina game and was expected to start once again.

However, on Friday evening on Sirius XM Radio, Koetter told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt that Winston, “took one sack-fumble in the first half (of the Buffalo game), and he kind of re-injured it.” Koetter added Winston also has a bruised deltoid muscle in his throwing shoulder.

That was news to us Bucs beat writers.

via NFL.com NextGen Stats

Winston started and finished the game versus the Carolina Panthers, but it was to the tune of only three points and a poor performance by the 23-year old quarterback that resulted in a loss. Winston finished the game 21-for-38 with 210 yards, but no touchdowns and two interceptions. After the game, Winston was asked about his shoulder and if it affected him at all. He responded with, “No, it wasn’t [a factor]. I was good.”

That was good to know in terms of his health, but raised question once again on his accuracy issues. His 55 percent completion percentage and 210 passing yards were both well below his 2017 season averages. He completed a season-high 72.2 percent of his passes the previous week at Buffalo one week after suffering his injury.

So what do we make of Winston’s shoulder, and what do we make of the reports surrounding it?

Winston hasn’t missed a game in his NFL career. He didn’t miss a game in college at Florida State due to health or poor performance, either. Winston is the kind of guy who you’d have to kill to take off the field. You love that about a player. You want that kind of attitude, toughness and willingness to do whatever they can to get on the field and stay on the field. But, knowing that, how seriously can we take his and Koetter’s words when they say Winston fine? Is he really fine?

We’re left with two truths to determine. The first is the severity of Winston’s shoulder. How hurt do you believe it is? Because if you believe it’s pretty damaged, especially after taking a shot from a Bills defender at the end of the Buffalo game, and then taking another hit in the second half against Carolina, then you have some cause for some of the misses that he had this past weekend that led to the loss. It also could open the door for you to possibly want to shut him down for the season if the next few games don’t go their way or he gets tackled awkwardly again.

The last thing the Bucs need is for Winston to have to undergo shoulder surgery heading into the 2018 campaign.

But, the other side of this truth is that if Winston’s shoulder is, in fact, fine, then his performance as a quarterback was certainly not – and not for the first time this year, or even the last three years.

Let’s go to the next page to check out some of the tape from the last three weeks and see if there was a difference in how Winston was throwing the ball or making decisions pre- and post-injury.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

I’m not a quarterbacking expert, just a fan. So given that my opinion is neither expert nor worth much, it seems to me that Winston is not hurt all that bad, and that what we see – his inconsistency – is consistent. It is who he he. He may develop into a more consistent player in the future. Tom Brady frankly wasn’t that great a thrower in his early years in the league. Neither was Aaron Rodgers. Both got a whole lot better by their mid-career years as compared to the first few years in the league. I am in… Read more »

BrianDorry55
BrianDorry55
4 years ago

My opinion? Bucs fans are a little silly and over dramatic. If Jameis reminds me of anyone right now it’s Philip Rivers. He has every tool in the toolbox to be elite but he just isn’t always on. And compared to what this franchise has had in the past, we should be ecstatic about having him. Instead, folks are already jumping ship on this kid because he has rough games here and there. Let’s focus on building up the team around him. He’s not Tom Brady, expecting him to put the team on his shoulders every week regardless of what’s… Read more »

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

I guess I am in denial. He sure didn’t look like the guy I have watched at FSU since he was a red shirt Freshman and up to the Carolina game. Oh I’m not talking about his accuracy because it’s never been close to 70%; it’s the way he was throwing which for me indicated his shoulder was bothering him or he was mentally conscious of a small issure and slightly changed the way he throws the ball. I still think there’s something with his shoulder and he thinks he can work thru it; maybe he can. If he does… Read more »

tog
tog
4 years ago

So it’s not Winston’s shoulder. It’s just poor play.

Is this QB purgatory then?

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Trevor, agree. We another year to make a decision about Jameis.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

No way should we give up on Winston. That’s nuts!

surferdudes
4 years ago

He’s not ready to carry a franchise on his shoulders, pardon the pun. I’m not giving him a pass, he has his issues, still just turned 23. This fish rots from the head down. This whole team has no consistency, or grit. If anything what’s bothering Jameis is what’s bothering us, he sees a shitty team. He’s admitted he’s part of the problem. I believe he takes it personally, unlike another team leader who’s never helped take this team to another level, and has been here 8 years!

BrianDorry55
BrianDorry55
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

He’s on a gutless football team…and doesn’t look like he’s having as much fun playing and that’s probably why. I think he needs to change his leadership style a little bit. I would come out pregame and tell every player on the team that 2-5 is a shit record and they’re all 2-5 football players. Man up and prove you aren’t a shit player.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  BrianDorry55
4 years ago

James needs to stop focusing on leadership and focus instead on improving his own play, being more consistent, being more accurate, being better at reading defenses, being better at avoiding sacks, better at not staring down his receivers, etc. etc. Leadership is greatly overhyped as a key attribute for a quarterback, especially the noisy kind of leadership that Jameis practices. He is not leading 18 and 19 year old kids – this is a men’s league with many players in their late 20s and 30s. Being a poor leader is a detriment. sure. But rah rah and calling out other… Read more »

BrianDorry55
BrianDorry55
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Brady is definitely an intense vocal leader.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  BrianDorry55
4 years ago

Brady has never been a rah-rah guy, leading rhymes, writing letters to all his teammates, all that college and high school stuff that kids get into.

He yells, and better than that, he performs.

Jlog
Jlog
4 years ago

Winston can be a franchise QB depending on how you define it. If it means he’s our guy then sure. If it means he’s a top 10 QB then no he’s not and not likely to ever be one. Winston hovers around average and one of his big limitation is accuracy. There are very few examples of QB’s making dramatic improvements in that regard. His decision making is poor but that could be improved with practice over time. That could make him above average but not likely top 10. I’m neutral on Winston, not a believer and not a hater… Read more »

BrianDorry55
BrianDorry55
Reply to  Jlog
4 years ago

Lol…you don’t think he is going to get top dollar? Don’t be surprised if he get the biggest contract in NFL history…or damn close to it. That’s the nature of the position.

inspecto
inspecto
Reply to  Jlog
4 years ago

hnson

inspecto
inspecto
Reply to  Jlog
4 years ago

That’s what they said about Steve Young, Doug Williams.+ Vinny T. We got !good year from Brad Johnson. All the others have been has beens or wanna bees. Do not forget Gradkowski.
We have to give Winston more time only 23.
Disregard my post after this PP messed up and froze with junk.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
4 years ago

I think Jameis is a little more hurt than he’s letting on or we’re being told. If it was just the ac joint sprain he’d be fine. But, with the deltoid or rotator cuff strain he suffered in the Bills game (thanks Donovan), I can’t see how it didn’t affect his throws against the Panthers. He played well last week, but maybe the time off between games allowed some stiffness to creep into the shoulder. I’m not blaming the bad game on the shoulder. He’s had them when healthy & will have them in the future. But after watching the… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  RootsCrew
4 years ago

It does not appear that Jameis is having trouble flinging the ball. He threw it downfield many times the last two games, it was not that he was throwing wounded ducks. His issue as always is accuracy, particularly a tendency to over-throw his receivers, both before and after he got his throwing shoulder bruised. I’d say play him as long as the medicals staff clears him to play. He provides our best chance of winning, though Fitz does not represent a huge dropoff either. The reason to play Jameis is to coach him and help him get better. He needs… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

It’s called pushing through the pain and yes it still affects your play especially a quarterback.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

We agree that he should play if he’s in no danger of further injuring himself because he’s inconsistent and needs game simulations/reps to further develop. I don’t think the shoulder made his throws weak per se, but I do think he’s very aware of the pain & to me, it looked like he altered his throwing motion a bit on Sunday. I liken it to a golf swing. If you pick up a slight injury, you compensate for it to alleviate some discomfort on your swing. Compensate too long and your swing is toast. Same with the progress he’s made… Read more »

SiegeTheBay
SiegeTheBay
4 years ago

Hey Trevor, the offense clearly has multiple issues for its inconsistencies in the red zone and running the ball effectively throughout the season and I’m starting to believe its play design. Koetter prides himself on “explosive” plays and going for the home run ball quite often but when a running play is called the design of it appears very basic in its nature. Usually a power play or an ill-advised pitch to the back. And in the red zone with the plethora of talent we have on offense, why does the play calling appear to be “generic” at best? Fade… Read more »

warrenfb12
warrenfb12
4 years ago

Can’t remember where I read it, but there was some former chargers doctor saying he though Winston appeared to be favoring a rotator cuff injury

BrianDorry55
BrianDorry55
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Doctor Toboggan, Mantis Toboggan!

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  warrenfb12
4 years ago

For the record, that “doctor” was David Chao, whose word is about as untrustworthy as a medical professional’s gets. He’s had multiple DUI’s, been sued for medical malpractice just over 20 times in the past 19 years (and paid out at least eight times, too), almost lost his medical license twice, wrote out prescriptions to satisfy drug addictions of friends (including Junior Seau, whose death he was decided to have played enough of a role in to have his license suspended) and coworkers, illegally wrote over 100 prescriptions for HIMSELF, and utterly disfigured a 15 year old girl who was… Read more »

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
4 years ago

Shut him down? From a fan’s perspective, I want a healthy Winston for years to come – we aren’t winning anything this year and if we jeopardize his health by creating some lingering issue or off season surgery, that will just jeopardize next year for us too. As a fan, I say shut him down – but moreover I say put the Griffin kid in and let’s see if he’s our backup of the future. Fitz stays on the pine. However, from Koetter’s perspective – which will trump the fan perspective – Winston is playing as long as he can… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  EastEndBoy
4 years ago

What worries me most about Jameis long term isn’t what you refer to as his “bonehead decisions”. The much bigger issue is his inconsistent and poor throwing mechanics that regularly lead to inaccuracy, particularly on deep vertical passes.

AZ_BUC_FAN4LIFE
AZ_BUC_FAN4LIFE
4 years ago

I have said this before….Which is the offense is pretty plain. Not nearly enough players in motion. No rubs, no nothing. They line up, show the formation and go. If they want things to change, they need to not be so predictable. As for Winston, I get it, he had a bad game, but when you look at the numbers, he is definitely playing well. 10th in yards. 15th in TDs. I could go on. Sacks, only 11. Which puts him way down the list. Last week was a stinker, no doubt about it. But, I think a lot of… Read more »

Mike.Seven
Mike.Seven
4 years ago

The injury he has needs a couple weeks of rest to heal,
to keep playing hurt could turn it into a serious problem. Not sure why the Bucs medical staff do not pull plug 2-3 weeks.
Darrel Johnson said on air during Sunday game that when he watched the Friday practice JW was putting a lot of balls on ground Darrel noticed it was not the same Jamies .

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
4 years ago

The biggest problem Jameis has right now is the same problem he’s ALWAYS had for as long as I’ve watched him play quarterback – his lower half. I genuinely just assumed that after being drafted, at some point, the team would emphasize him improving his throwing mechanics, primarily with his feet and legs. But, judging by what HAVE been Jameis’s offseason focuses in his three offseason thus far, that just isn’t the case. Until he is able to spend at least one entire offseason focusing primarily on improving his footwork while throwing, he will never, ever, ever consistently be the… Read more »