He has had games with more touchdowns.

He has had games with more yardage.

If you’re counting, Jameis Winston has games with higher ratings.

As far as playing quarterback, however, as far as taking control of the game and spreading the ball around like a point guard on a fast break, Sunday’s 36-10 win over Chicago was one of Winston’s keeper games. It was the kind of game that will make you reassess the young quarterback again. It was the kind of game that makes you feel good about the future.

Winston and the Bucs.

The Bucs and Winston.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Can they get good together?

Winston had the kind of game against the Bears that gives you hope. Against the Bears, the No. 12 defense in the NFL, Winston was sensational. He hit 23-of-33 passes (69.7 percent, second-best of his career). He threw for 312 yards and two scores. He made one of the maddest scramble-passes to Mike Evans (39 yards) that you could imagine. He threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Martino.

For most of the afternoon, Winston played behind a center from whom he hadn’t taken a snap since training came of 2015 and a guy that was playing in his first NFL game. He played behind rookie guard Caleb Benenoch, who was seeing his first NFL action.

Behind him was a rusty Doug Martin, who was running in quicksand.

You know what else Winston did? He won at home for the fourth time, which made the ship look good and made the crowd feel good.

He stopped a two-game losing streak. He made Dirk Koetter smart again. He made himself a prospect again after the conversation had turned to how poorly he threw deep and how inaccurately he threw short.

In the middle of all of it, he was terrific. You could make an argument that it was the best game of Winston’s career: It was the first time he has had a quarterback rating of more than 100 and thrown for 300 yards. That’s not a bad day’s work.

Consider this: Of Winston’s 23 completions, 19 of them went to a guy not named Evans. Sure, most weeks, Winston hears criticism because he looks so desperately for Evans.

But not Sunday.

Sunday, Winston let the Bears give extra attention to Evans until the second half (he had four catches after halftime for 66 yards).

Bucs TE Cameron Brate - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Instead, Winston was a card dealer in Vegas. He was an orchestra leader. He was a choreographer.

What he was – was a quarterback.

“Chicago did a good job (covering Evans),” said Koetter. “Their game plan was obvious. We were nervous they were going to do a couple of things the way they did it and double Mike and they did that. It was huge for Jameis. Obviously, Cam (Brate) was the biggest recipient of that. We spread it around good. James did a heck of a job. I thought it was one of Jameis’ bigger games.”

Tight end Cameron Brate caught seven passes (out of seven targets) for 84 yards. Adam Humphries had five catches. Cecil Shorts had two. Martino, Martin, Luke Stocker, Brandon Myers and Mike James all had one each. There was nothing hurried, nothing that looked like guesswork, to Winston’s throws. For a day, he looked like a quarterback who had arrived.

“I don’t really discriminate,” Winston said. “I go through my reads. But when Mike has one of his big games, the news is ‘All he does is throw to Mike.’ But when Mike is having one of his big games, why not? We want Mike to have those big games. But when he’s not getting his balls, we have other weapons.”

Of course, the biggest challenge of the NFL is to reach the point where a quarterback can do this every week. But on a day such as Sunday, it is easy to ask yourself this: What can’t Winston do? What throw can’t he make?

Consider this play early in the third quarter. It was third-and-10 for the Bucs at their own 38, and Winston dropped back to pass. Nothing.

So Winston scrambled to the right. Nothing.

He retreated into his own end zone. He did a dipsy-doodle and scrambled. Still nothing. He scrambled some more, the way a quarterback does when he is running toward catastrophe.

You wondered if he was going to be tackled in the parking lot. Finally, he stopped and heaved the ball deep to Evans. The completion was for 39 yards. The pass covered 50 yards.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

“Throw it away! Throw it away!” Koetter said he was thinking. “Get down! Do anything! Don’t take a safety! The thing about Jameis, Jameis is going to do some things that we don’t plan for. He’s going to do some things sometimes that I don’t like. But Jameis is going to make some plays because that’s who he is. You can’t coach that out of him. He’s a special player in that respect.”

“That guy, No. 3, has got a heart. He’s a warrior,” said right tackle Demar Dotson. “He’s always coming back with tenacity and he’s a never-quit guy.”

And that’s what Winston has. He has this big-play ability that will make your eyes pop. Sure, sometimes, his coaches have to tame him a bit. He’s a wild stallion. But at times, he’s just a marvelous beast. Since he arrived, the Bucs have won 10 times; in almost all of them, he’s earned the big headline.

One of the biggest lessons the Bucs must learn is that while Winston is the star of the show, they need some backup dancers. They need a defense to play the way it did Sunday (two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, four sacks and a safety). They need a bruising offensive line. They need more speed.

But in the NFL, you start to build with the quarterback spot. Winston remains a fine prospect. No, he isn’t fully finished yet. But he’s closer than he was last week.

Next week, maybe he’ll get closer still.

No one has won more awards, including two national Associated Press Sports Editors Best Columnist awards and eight top 10 finishes, than the legendary Gary Shelton, former sports columnist of the St. Petersburg Times. Shelton returns to PewterReport.com for his second season of providing post-game commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like no one else can.

Shelton just received his sixth Sportswriter of the Year award for Florida by the NSSA, and no one has seen more big events, including 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics and 11 Final Fours. Shelton still goes into the locker room to obtain his stories.

And no one has made you angrier, or laugh louder, or think harder about what he has written. Simply put, no one has covered Tampa Bay sports like Shelton has. Now you can read Shelton daily on GarySheltonSports.com and follow him on Twitter at @Gary_Shelton

Bucs fans can enjoy Shelton’s weekly post-game column on the Bucs following every Tampa Bay game exclusively on PewterReport.com, and our readers are encouraged to subscribe to GarySheltonSports.com for all of his expert commentary on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays, USF, Florida, Florida State and all of the sports teams and sports figures in the national spotlight.

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About the Author: Gary Shelton

Legendary sports columnist Gary Shelton returns to PewterReport.com for his second season of providing post-game commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like no one else can. No one has won more sports writing awards than Shelton, who has covered Tampa Bay area sports for decades with his unique brand of humor and insight. Bucs fans can Shelton daily on GarySheltonSports.com and follow him on Twitter at @Gary_Shelton
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Matthew
Matthew(@bolts12)
5 years ago

Where are you at now bucnut? Everyone will forgive you if you just come out and admit Jameis is our franchise QB

cgmaster27
cgmaster27(@cgmaster27)
Reply to  Matthew
5 years ago

Don’t hold you’re breath. Bucnut usually take off for a week on weeks like this. We’ll see him in the prediction section next week when he picks the team with the “better QB”.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2(@bucnut2)
Reply to  Matthew
5 years ago

I am right here. Winston played VERY well yesterday. I sincerely hope he continues to do well as our franchise is dependent oohs development. And no, I am not ready tot decade him a franchise QB yet. At this point, he is too inconsistent. HE was definitely BRILLIANT yesterday!!

Matthew
Matthew(@bolts12)
Reply to  Bucnut2
5 years ago

ill take that

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
5 years ago

Anyone who thinks they know what a Q.B. will be after 24 games, and at the tender age of 22, doesn’t know anything. Give the guy a break. Winston is our Q.B., and as Gary said, a damn fine prospect. That scramble play was very Farve like, a guy either has “IT” or he don’t. If you can’t see Winston has “IT”, maybe you need to look else where for a team to root for, because Jameis is our franchise now, and moving forward. Lucky we got him.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2(@bucnut2)
Reply to  surferdudes
5 years ago

Hmm… I guess you don’t think Bill Walsh knows anything because he is the one who said by the middle of the second year you know what you have in a QB. Please don’t tell me who to root for. I’ve been a fan of the Bucs for 23 years and most of that a a season ticket holder. I’ve always said JW is a great leader, but at this point looks like an average QB. I’m sticking with that until/unless he becomes has more games like yesterday. Believe it or not, I trully want him to succeed. I root… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
5 years ago

Jameis played very well yesterday, and he didn’t even have a strong running game to lean on (not bad, but “meh”). His offensive line was banged up, going with a third stringer at center. The third stringers who played on the line yesterday, contrary to Mark Cook’s sourly calling them out for not playing like stars, actually did OK considering. I think one factor that DID help Jameis was the inspired play of our defense yesterday. Not that it affected Jameis’s skills or fire as a quarterback, but just mentally, knowing that your defense has your butt covered, makes it… Read more »

MWD
MWD(@mikewestdominguez)
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

Naples, I agree with you’re comment on how the defense played and how that helped boost the team in general. You know as well as I do, a day where Chris Conte has a pick six usually means things are going our way!, Jameis had some good scrambles and even though Mike Evans really did not have one of his stellar games, Cameron Brate was a beast. It also looked like our def line was getting pretty decent pushes up front causing cutler to get rid of it and make some bad throws which is what we want. It will… Read more »

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
5 years ago

I ageee Naples the two played decent. Not horrible and not good either. Good have been lot better. Could been a lot worse. Jameis had a great game and as you said not much run game. Hoping Doug gets his legs back we will need that run game against better Chiefs team. The Bears do have a good pass rush if nothing else. Hoping Winston continues to have games like this spreading the ball around. Was really fun to watch. I enjoyed being at the game watching the Bears fans STFU. They started out yelling and obnoxious but they were… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  fredster
5 years ago

Yup, Fredster, we have some really challenging games coming up the rest of this season … we need to get much better than yesterday to win a majority of those games, starting with the Chiefs. A strong running game will be a huge help.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  fredster
5 years ago

Fredster: I saw a few Bears fans actually putting on the free Bucs shirt (sponsored by Publix) and wearing a new Bucs hat. I advised the fat ass loud mouth behind me, who lives “just south of here”, that the Glazers have set up grief counselors in the concourse, usually reserved for Bucs fans, but on this day they are available for those who continue to cheer for their former team while residing here. I wonder how many called their friends and family back in Chicago to brag about their new team……….the mighty Bucs.

Horse
Horse(@horse)
5 years ago

Thanks Gary; good analysis.

76Buc
76Buc(@76buc)
5 years ago

Gary, I love your articles.

Iowabucfan
Iowabucfan(@iabucfan)
5 years ago

Mr. Shelton, I enjoyed your column for many years when I lived down there. I am so glad your column now appears in PR. Great analysis and insight on JW3. As Jack Buck said, “I don’t believe what I just saw!”
Go Bucs!

plopes808
plopes808(@plopes808)
5 years ago

I don’t know what they told him coming out for the game but, they need to do it every week! My man was on point all night!