In The Trenches With Ian Beckles
Fitzpatrick vs. Winston Decision Looms For Bucs

I’m normally a cut-and-dry, black-and-white kind of guy. I find that my answer to the question “Who is going to start at quarterback when Jameis Winston is done with his three-game suspension?” seems to be changing by the week.

The questions about whether Winston would still be the Buccaneers’ field general after the mistreatment of a female UBER driver two years ago surfaced almost immediately when the report came out and the suspension was handed down by the league. Initially, I became angered – questioning the allegiance and intelligence of the alleged Bucs fan asking such a ridiculous question like, “Will Winston still be our starter after his suspension?”

I rarely change my mind and I’m very hard to sway, but after our Buccaneers failed to put the likeness of No. 3 on the side of Raymond James Stadium and the way the 35-year old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick played in a rousing 48-40, Week One upset in New Orleans, I’m not sure anymore.

Bucs QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Should we be hoping for Fitzpatrick, who has been on seven different teams in 14 years to overthrow Winston as the team’s starting quarterback this year? Should we hope that Fitzpatrick, who was let go by a New York Jets team that started Josh McCown last year in Fitzy’s place, becomes “the man” in Tampa Bay? I don’t know anymore.

Before the game I warned Tampa Bay fans not to overreact over one game – and here I am overreacting.

Fitzpatrick just outdueled Saints’ future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in his building. Fitzy was accurate in throwing for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns while completing 75 percent of his passes. He pulled the ball down and ran on numerous occasions and his decision-making was immaculate.

It was nice to see a QB that made definitive decisions instead of shaking our head when Winston throws a ball off his back foot and into traffic. All Fitzpatrick did was play a flawless game in a hostile environment against a Super Bowl contender, move the chains consistently all day and competed like a rookie trying to keep his roster spot.

Fitzpatrick’s old legs and mature football intellect knew when the Saints had the right defense called, but instead of forcing the ball in double coverage like Winston might have done, the veteran tucked the ball and ran on 12 different occasions for 36 hard-fought, chain-moving yards, including a 3-yard touchdown in the first half.

Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Can you imagine the feeling in Winston’s living room as he watched Fitzpatrick shred the Saints defense drive after drive after drive? I’m positive Winston wanted the Buccaneers to win, but I’m not sure that he wanted Fitzpatrick to the best player on the field on either sider of the ball on Sunday.

This article may be obsolete and overblown in a couple weeks because the Bucs schedule doesn’t get any easier with home games against Super Bowl champion Philadelphia and a Monday Night Football game against Pittsburgh. An abysmal outing at home against the Eagles or a hiccup versus the Steelers and Winston may once again become our savior.

But as of right now, head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht appear to have a tough decision to make when Winston returns to the starting lineup. Winston has been the reason why the Bucs have a bright future, but he may not be the Bucs best choice at quarterback today if Fitz keeps playing like this.

Putting Winston back in at the helm may cause a bit of a ruckus in the locker room as well. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard sure looked comfortable catching balls from ol’ Fitzpatrick – especially the deep balls that Winston has struggled to connect with.

Benching our franchise quarterback might sound like an easy task to us Bucs fans after a stunning Week 1 performance from Fitzpatrick, but if the team makes that choice and Fitzy doesn’t end up being “the man” all year, Koetter and Licht can kiss their asses goodbye.

I hope Koetter has the toughest decision of his career in two weeks. That would mean that Fitzpatrick has held his own against the Eagles and Steelers at home and that the Bucs are either 3-0 or 2-1 when Winston’s suspension ends.

Ian Beckles is a PewterReport.com contributing writer and a former Buccaneers guard. Beckles was a starting guard in the NFL playing nine years, including his first seven in Tampa Bay from 1990-95. Beckles’ In The Trenches column appears on PewterReport.com every Monday night during football season.

Since retiring from football Beckles has become a local celebrity and forged a sports radio career, now hosting The Ian Beckles Show on Sundays from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on 102.5 The Bone in Tampa. Beckles also hosts the popular In The Trenches Podcast. Follow Beckles on Twitter by clicking here.

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About the Author: Ian Beckles

Ian Beckles is a PewterReport.com contributing writer and a former Buccaneers guard. Beckles was a starting guard in the NFL playing nine years, including his first seven in Tampa Bay from 1990-95. Beckles’ In The Trenches column appears on PewterReport.com every Monday night during football season.
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Buc 1976
2 years ago

It is only 1 game! It was an outstanding game by Fitz.

Horse
2 years ago

Please, already you’re trying to stir the pot already Those things you were describing wasn’t the same Jameis Winston I saw during preseason; he played good and Fitzpatrick was just so-so. Let’s wait until after these next two games are over. By the way it’s not our decision; this would be a good situation not a bad situation. I think we call this competition.

GrayBalls
2 years ago

Ian, I gotta say, I wasn’t entirely pleased when you were no longer on the roster at AM 620. I thought you and Ron Diaz had great chemistry and it made for a compelling show. But, I love what you’re doing at The Bone and hope you get as much air time as you want over there. Can’t tell you how stoked I was to see your name attached to a Pewter Report article. That being said, I don’t think Jameis has anything to worry about…… Yet. Fitz had one hell of a game, for damn sure. But, he is… Read more »

seat26
2 years ago

This is Horse Poopy. Yes, Fitzpatrick had a great game and did everything that was asked of him. And our OL performed well, and our receivers were red hot. And for that I applaud Monken. Excellent job, and no doubt his name will be on everyone’s lips as a Head Coach candidate if this continues. But please, stop trying to create a QB controversy. It doesn’t exist. The only controversy is that our Defense was non-existent. We brought in 4 new Defensive linemen, and a bevy of draft picks and from what I can see with the exception of Curry,… Read more »

Bucsfan1983
Reply to  seat26
2 years ago

Exactly! And our 1st round pick is injured and no one knows when he will play. Meanwhile, Derwin James had 3 tackles, 1 sack and 3 PD. Boy I’m sure glad Licht took fat a$$ Vea over James. SMH!

BigSombrero
Reply to  seat26
2 years ago

Kalil Mack was a game wrecker in Chicago. Bears were up 20-0 and lost 24-23 when a hobbled Aaron Rodgers came back. With the rules of today, great offense beats great defense.

scubog
2 years ago

We should all stand up applaud the showing Fitz put on against the Saints, whose fans unfamiliar with the bearded one, were, in disbelief, whispering “who dat?” to the person beside them. No one in Bucville could have sanely predicted such a near perfect game from #14. From what we’ve seen in Fitz’ long career, he has been a QB to tease, disappoint and surprise from one week to the next. Steve DeBerg 2.0? I don’t care who lines up at QB, or any other position, as long as the team wins. For some, sadly it seems there is an… Read more »

WestChap
Reply to  scubog
2 years ago

Agreed the deep ball perfection was a shock, but the sheer number of weapons was not. In fact, my fear was DK and crew would force Fitz into those deep throw play calls he’s not prepared to make… oops! Who knew he was a deep ball sharpshooter dropping dimes to receivers in stride? Not me. That produced the gaudy stats luring folks into over reaction… but you have to admit that the intermediate ball placement, ball security and overall judgment were perfectly predictable. Fitz may not pitch a 400yd+ game in only 28 throws this week but he’s a lock… Read more »

cheveliar
2 years ago

If we come out of this 3 game gauntlet 1-3 that’s better than most thought. With that being said, Fitzy said it himself, he’s holding this thing down for Jamies. So lets not make this bigger than it needs to be.

surferdudes
2 years ago

Rogers made a comment after G.B.’s come back Sunday night that stuck with. “I had three years to sit behind Farve, and learn what it took to be an NFL Q.B.”. Who did Jameis have as a 21yr old rookie to help guide him, Mike Glennon? These years with Fitz have helped him. Last year when he came back from injury he was pretty damn good, crediting his time watching Fitz operate. I think he’s doing the same now. He sure looked sharp this preseason, “I see you 52”. Fitz is a good reliever, but you don’t let your best… Read more »

Dman
2 years ago

As Koetter has said, this is a week to week league. There are no decisions about QB to be made at this point so this is all just kicking things around for grins. Good to hear from Ian Beckles. Hope the guys here at Pewter Report make this a regular column.

johnny
2 years ago

you really can’t be this dumb. if they were planning or are planning on just sticking with fitz why wouldn’t they have just traded or cut jameis?? i mean what’s the point of keeping him if hes not going to play. based off of everything owenership the coaches and the gm has said jameis still has full support of everybody in that building and this is still his team. i can almost say with 100% certainty fitz isn’t going to have another game like that. the saints def coordinator was dumb for playing coverage like he did constantly leaving his… Read more »

johnny
2 years ago

it’s like everyone has already forgot jameis was doing exactly what fitz was doing all training camp and all preaeason. to go along with the fact that he ended last season as one of the hottest qbs in the league and aside from fumbles played really really well. giving up on your franchise qb to ride with a 35 yr old career journey man back up qb would be the most bucs move they could ever do .

Pete Wood
2 years ago

I think that Fitz deserves credit, but lest we forget we have the best receiving corps in the NFL.
Johnny Football seemed to be a stud until he didn’t have Mike Evans. And, remember how everybody loved Dante Culpepper a few years ago until Randy Moss left and he had to throw to average receivers?
Both QBS will do quite well, I suspect, because they have so many weapons.
I will say that Fitz in the four games he’s played since 2017 does make much better decisions than Winston.

Horse
Reply to  Pete Wood
2 years ago

Culpepper blew out his knee big time and was never the same. Do your homework.

Pete Wood
Reply to  Horse
2 years ago

The dog ate my homework.

fredster
2 years ago

That was one hell of a fame by Fitz!!! Amazing really. I’d like to believe Fitz can duplicate that but my gut says no. Can he just manage the game and play turnover free? Who knows. That game was the most fun I’ve had as a Bucs fan in long time. We will have to wait and see if it continues. If he continues to play well and we are 2-1 or 3-0 I’d play him until he struggled.

Horse
Reply to  fredster
2 years ago

Defense has to get better; doubtful the offense will have another game like this again. Pretty much perfect on offensive scheme and pretty much bad on defensive scheme. The good news with the defense is the young DB’s are getting playing time.

Naplesfan
2 years ago

The point is valid that if Fitz continues to lead the Bucs offense in the next 2 weeks similarly to what he did on Sunday, the Bucs will in fact have a hard decision to make. That is a big “if” … but Fitz’s play on Sunday makes it no longer unthinkable. Also, I don’t think Winston could have replicated Fitz’s performance – it just is not in him. Whether Fitz can replicate his own performance is yet to be determined. If he does it twice more, regardless of whether the Bucs win one or both games, the Bucs will… Read more »

Buc-in-Philly Fan
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 years ago

That would be expected of you Naples as you have been negative on Winston from the beginning. It’s ok. You have the right to your opinion. Just be mindful that you have stated your psoition and that even if Winston produced well, as he did in the last five games of last year and ALL preseason, you would not acknowledge that.

It seems if you thrive on the negative as opposed to enjoying the success and positive.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Buc-n-Philly Fan
2 years ago

It is not a matter of opinion that Winston is a turnover machine … it is a matter of fact. That is his game.

Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 years ago

It took a miracle to win a game with this defense. It happened because the offence was our miracle; not sure this is always going to happen.

Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

Unless we are 3-0, Fitz has thrown for 1,000 + yds, 8-10 TDs with 3 INTs or less, it’s not that hard of a decision. This is still Winston’s team until further notice.

Wausa
2 years ago

Wow! I am really impressed with the comments on this board, but not so much the article. This is why Pewter Report is the best Bucs site. Ian, I can promise you Jamies was jumping for joy at the Bucs victory. Goofball media will come out of the woodworks and say there is a QB controversy if Fitz plays really well the first three games, but the intelligent fans on this site know the future of this franchise is with Jamies Winston. Fitz is a great backup QB to have, but Jamies is the QB the Bucs will ride going… Read more »

blind melon
2 years ago

“…I hope Koetter has the toughest decision of his career in two weeks…”

Agreed.

I also think that a QB controversy is good news-making-fodder. As everyone is thinking it… one of those ‘enduring story lines’… at least initially (as the Bucs weren’t expected to have any story lines this season) blah.

Make no mistake here. This decision is Koetter’s. He’ll listen to all parties inside the building – but it’s his to make.

I believe it’s a win-win-win if Fitz continues to play well.

Buc-in-Philly Fan
2 years ago

Please Lord, give us this “problem”. This would mean that this Team has drastically improved and we have reason for hope. Does ANYONE truly believe Fitz is a better QB that Winston. If you do it is because you have a bias against Winston or may lack football common sense. Does ANYONE on here think Fitz will be the starter here next year. If so………well you know what I am going to say. Good job Coaches, GM and especially the Players for stepping their execution up and having the will to win. It is awesome to be able to be… Read more »

martinii
2 years ago

It is simple, Early on the plan was for Jameis to return after his suspension regardless of the record and that is the way it should be. Wentz will return and replace Noles and Noles won a SB. Fitz is the back-up. Jameis had a good preseason. Only thing they might do (If Buc’s are 3-0) is boring Winston back after the Bye, giving him a couple weeks of practice with the team. If we are 3-1 and Winston comes back and looses 3 strait I might sit him, and of course if he gets hurt. Winston is young and… Read more »

tpeluso
2 years ago

Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. Our success this weekend was much more about the play-calling than it was about Fitz going out and doing something magical. I would think about giving Fitz one more start after Jameis comes back (at Chicago) because it gives Jameis time to ease back into the team and get his rhythm going again, but Jameis needs to be starting when we come back from the bye.

Buc-in-Philly Fan
Reply to  tpeluso
2 years ago

I COMPLETELY disagree!! Look at the placement of those passes. Look at the time the offensive line gave. Look at the blitz pick-ups the RB’s provided. This was complete execution of great play calls. But make no mistake, those passes were pin point accurate. The one to OJ on the sideline was Fitzmagical!

Naplesfan
Reply to  tpeluso
2 years ago

If Winston made the same plays, his fanboys would go into orgasmic hype about him being GOAT. You know you would.

But if non-Winston does it, it’s gotta be the play calling.

SMH

chefboho
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 years ago

Well wasn’t it Monken’s first time calling plays in a nfl game that counted? Thought so. Fitz was amazing and his passing was very accurate, but he also had several plays with receivers so open that WE could’ve made the pass.

Horse
2 years ago

Most of you do know that all this article did was divert the real elephant in the room which is the Defense!

scubog
Reply to  Horse
2 years ago

We oldsters always repeat ourselves to make a point. Yes, my friend, we know you are concerned about the defense. Me too. Perhaps the saying, “beating a dead Horse”, is appropriate here.

Dude
2 years ago

I say if the Bucs were to go 3-0 that Fitz should play until he looses a couple. This would give Jameis plenty of time to prepare and it might even create a deeper fire in him to play smarter and better, and possibly take himself to the next level. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone and you have to set back and watch some Fitzmagic happen in your place on the field. That had to be a tough pill to swallow knowing that it should have been you.

GoldsonAges
2 years ago

I reckon this is an easy decision. They may hold Winston out the week before the bye, but they kind of need to start him. He is in the final year of his 4 year contract and the Bucs need to determine if he has made the step forward and if they’re going to re-sign him and what his value is.

If Fitz continues to light it up the next few games and Winston struggles when he returns, it’s a pretty easy fix to pull Winston and put Fitz back in.