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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.

FAB 1. Winston Returns, Now What?

When Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension on Tuesday nothing will have changed.

He’ll still be the No. 2 quarterback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, just like Winston was in training camp and the preseason.

And that’s okay. In fact, that’s perfectly fine.

I’m not just talking about the fact that we’ve all witnessed FitzMagic in the first two games – two wins – to start the season.

I’m talking about the fact that Winston has done a great job following Fitzpatrick’s lead and it would behoove the Bucs to let that continue while 35-year old veteran has the hot hand. A quick look back at training camp and the preseason proves that’s the case.

Winston was actually the Bucs’ top-rated quarterback in the preseason, completing 30-of-41 passes (73.2 percent) for 388 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while posting a 126.9 QB rating. As well as Fitzpatrick played in August he completed just 17-of-28 passes (60.7 percent) for 183 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions and a QB rating of 79.9.

The big question is whether Winston could have done what Fitzpatrick has done over the past two games, which is to complete 78.7 percent of his passes for 819 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception (which wasn’t even his fault) – and a ridiculous QB rating of 151.5.

Let’s take a look at what Winston has done in his three-year career in Tampa Bay.

Winston has had a 400-yard passing game before, throwing for 405 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 37-32 loss to the St. Louis Rams in Week 3 in 2016.

Winston also had back-to-back games with high completion percentages where he passed for 299 yards and completed 77.1 percent of his throws with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 24-21 loss to Atlanta on Monday Night Football last December and then threw for 367 yards with one touchdown while completing 77.8 percent of his passes in a 22-19 loss at Carolina.

Winston also threw five touchdown passes with no interceptions while completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 265 yards in a big 45-17 win at Philadelphia as a rookie.

Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

So could Winston have had put up similar numbers? How much of this is Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken’s offense? How much of this is Fitzpatrick?

I’m not taking anything away from Fitz, but I think given the same looks and the same protection he could have come close to those numbers with one big difference. I haven’t seen Fitzpatrick make a risky throw yet. His lone interception came on a fluky play in which O.J. Howard should have made a catch.

While vastly improved, I don’t think Winston has gotten the risky throws out of his system just yet. Remember throwing the ball up off his back foot under duress to Chris Godwin in the preseason game at Tennessee? Godwin came down with it despite the throw being in triple coverage, but that’s an interception most of the time.

Eight hundred yards from Winston in the first two games? With Tampa Bay’s weapons – sure.

Eight touchdowns in the first two games? Maybe.

Hitting the deep ball as often as Fitzpatrick? I don’t know. Winston has improved in that area, evidenced by a 54-yard connection with DeSean Jackson in the preseason at Tennessee.

Just one turnover in the first two games? I’m guessing more like two or three for Winston.

Two wins to start the season? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Winston would have begun the season 1-1 as a starter.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As I mentioned in this week’s PR Roundtable, I’m not sure when Winston will get a chance to start again this season if Fitzpatrick keeps playing the way he does, but that’s okay if he doesn’t. Winston has made strides over the second half of last year and in this year’s preseason, where he demonstrated better decision-making.

However, I do think Winston will re-enter the starting lineup at some point this season. And no, the Bucs aren’t going to trade him or part ways with him. He’s still very well thought of in the halls of the AdventHealth Training Center (One Buccaneer Place). The 24-year old Winston is the future at the quarterback position in Tampa Bay despite how well Fitzpatrick is playing.

To be honest, Winston became a better quarterback from the sidelines watching Fitzpatrick go 2-1 during the three starts Winston missed last year due to his shoulder injury. Winston was a more accurate quarterback when he returned to the lineup over the last five games of the season when he averaged 316.8 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 67.2 percent of his passes.

Well, maybe something will have changed when Winston walks into the locker room on Tuesday morning after all. He’ll still be the No. 2 quarterback, but I think watching Fitzpatrick – even from afar – will be invaluable experience for Winston again. He’s seen Fitzpatrick lead the Bucs to a 2-0 start in a low-key way, while having fun, while being efficient and while staying away from turnovers.

There’s a lot for Winston to learn from watching Fitzpatrick play and succeed, and there’s going to be a lot of football for Winston to play in his young, bright future.

In due time.

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Previous articleReynolds Talks Vea, Grimes And Steelers With WFLA.com
Next articleInside One Buc – 9/21: Jackson Wants Fitzpatrick; Monken Opens Up
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

35 COMMENTS

  1. I predicted that the Bucs would be 10-6 this season before the 2-0 start. I believed that we would win the division and enter the playoffs as a 3 seed. So I also would like to revise my prediction. I didnt expect the offensive line to be as good as it has and I definitely didn’t expect this offense to be a league-leading unit as far as points per game. With that being said, I have been impressed with Fitzpatrick thus far and honestly think that he should continue to start after Jameis’ suspension ends. However I also know what Jameis is capable of after watching from home and a couple weeks on the sideline. He can be an MVP candidate and I really expect him to have career highs this year with completion pct and a career low in INTs. Barring injury(of course) and the consistent improvement from our young secondary, the offensive line protection, running game and pass rush I believe the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be very difficult to beat for any team in the league. We are one of the elite teams in the NFL this year and our record will be 12-4 when the season ends. There is a strong possibility that we could be looking at a first round bye and home game in the playoffs. This team is about to stun the entire league just as Philly did last year. I almost want to predict a SuperBowl title but that’ll be my prediction for next season.

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  2. One of the problems Winston had when he came into the NFL was he was thrust into the starting role immediately and had no role model to guide him in the position unlike the QB from the 49ers.
    Now he is getting a chance to see a real seasoned pro take the offense over and learn from him like he did last year.
    Many people fault Winston for being so emotional during games but I don’t. That is one of the reasons the Bucs drafted him, to be an emotional leader. They wanted someone who actually cared if they won or lost and not only spoke it but showed it.
    But the team has matured since that first year and it no longer needs that type of persona and I think Winston will recognize that a more calm persona like Fitzpatrick has is more effective nowadays,
    Still, no one blames Tom Brady for being emotional like he was in last weeks game against the Jags. Winston just has to find that happy medium.
    Fitzpatrick’s calm demenaor is not the only thing that is more effective this year. Both Howard and Godwin have been in the offensive system for more more than a year and are more understanding of it and are no longer rookies.
    The offensive line as a whole is improved. Last year I think the Bucs gave up like 40 sacks, someone correct me if I’m wrong. This year, after two games, I think they have given up one. Fitzpatrick hasn’t had anyone hanging on him while he is trying to read the defense and get rid of the ball.
    Another thing that has been a big change is the Bucs haven’t been playing from behind and forcing Fitz to make iffy throws to catch up.
    Last year, with a porous defense, the Bucs were often behind 14-0 before the team had it’s second possession. Aggressive play calling now usually has put the Bucs ahead or at least on a level playing field.
    One of the reasons Winston has made a lot of risky throws is not because he wanted to, but because he had to in order to keep or to catch up.
    Sorry I didn’t read your revised predictions. I didn’t read the first one eiither because they are so silly.
    As the saying goes, this is a week to week league.
    One player going out for a week with an injurty can effect the entire outcome of a game. See the Browns game last night. No one, despite what many mornic arrmchair GMs out here think, can predict injuries, other than the fact in a violent contact sport, they will inevitably occur.
    Besides, you don’t get to do do overs just like tour pros don’t get mulligans off the first tee.

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    • If I could give this 50 thumbs up I would. This offensive production is because of the total offense not solely because of Fitz. Fitz has been smart enough to take advantage of the opportunities. That is what veteran players do. Regardless of how folks feel about Winston; to me, it is clear that the offense is clicking due to a variety of factors and there is no reason to think that Winston could not achieve similar production. I agree that you stay with the hot hand and keep Fitz in until he becomes ineffective or turns the ball over.

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  3. only this is not madden 2018 Winston is actually a person with feelings… “well that is what he gets!!” does not magically make him not a person with feelings… just saying. if you bench him for the whole year, how could you possibly try to tell him you would never bench him for the whole year? lol… right? why would he sign with a team that could and did bench him for the whole year. I wouldn’t. I would sign with a team that actually wouldn’t ever bench me for the whole year. just sayin

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    • Screw Jameis and his feelings. If he’d have learned to keep his hands to himself, he never would have been suspended, and not given FitzMagic the chance to outplay him. Everything that’s happening to him this season is his own fault.

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      • Easy to say when Fitz is on top of the world. When Fitz returns to Fitz and Jameis is kicking ass for another team and we are looking for another QB for the next ten years, I’d like to see what you have to say then. His suspension is over…move on!

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        • What other team is going to want the p***y grabber as the face of their franchise? When has Jameis ever “kicked ass” for the Bucs? The ease with which you dismiss sexual assault with a “move on” is frightening.

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  4. Ride the beard – fitz has given us no reason to take him out. He has better numbers through two games than Winston has had in any stretch of his career.

    Winston got himself suspended in a contract year. You’d think he learned from his mistakes at FSU, now he has to face the heat. How do we know if this Is going to happen again? Use it as leverage in contract negotiations

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  5. I enjoyed the Fab 5 Scott. Quite surprised we have won 2 games because for me the Defense hasn’t proven yet they are at least average; maybe I’ll have my answer by the bye week. So far this has been all about the Offense doing what we all thought they had. There’s no issue with Winston being the back up because we are 2-0 so lets see where we are at the bye week. If we are 3-1; we’ll keep everything the same. Lets get this win! Go Bucs!

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    • Mainly about the offense, but the defense has made some good key plays too that cemented those wins. I still think we are very fortunate to have Mike Smith. Glad the Bucs didn’t let him go.l

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  6. Enjoyed reading the first section regarding whether Winston could have duplicated the results these first two games. I tend to agree that bits of Fitzpatrick’s success are not in Winston’s area of expertise so the games would have played out differently. Who knows if the results would have been the same. Two things stand out so far for me. First, the receiver play has been outstanding. Since the preseason, all of our QBs are constantly finding open targets. That takes a lot of pressure off the QB when not every throw has to be perfect. Honestly, DJackson has made superior adjustments on half of Fitzpatrick’s throws this year to create space and/or correct slightly off throws. Secondly, the play calling is doing a great job of utilizing Fitzpatrick’s strengths. Great article on Fivefifty-five.com today comparing Winston and Fitzpatrick. Well worth the read.

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/jameis-winston-is-a-better-quarterback-than-ryan-fitzpatrick/

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  7. I hope Vea lives up to the hype. God knows I do, but I can’t get over the feeling that the Bucs squandered a first round pick on him, just like they did with Vernon Hargreaves two years before. I see both as decent second round picks who will have solid careers, but, good giggly wiggly, neither was the best player available. No even close.
    I wish we had snagged James this year. I will never understand the thinking in picking Vea.
    Oh, and Bucs go 10 and 6. I agree one hundred percent. I see us losing once to Carolina and beating Bengals, but same result.
    Go Bucs!

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    • James has looked like the best defensive rookie in the NFL this season. I really hope Vea turns into a beast, but I think we’ll look back on this draft the same way we look back at the one where the Bucs took Mark Barron over Luke Kuechly

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      • That’s a much better comparison than the VH3 one.

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    • Out of curiosity, who would you have rather we picked over VHIII?

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      • I think I was unfair to lump VH in with Vea. At the time I was very happy with VH and the 2016 draft, as I recall, had pretty slim pickings. Vea just had me scratching my head from the getgo.

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        • Fair enough.

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  8. How do the Bucs lose to the Bears after beating saints, Eagles, and Steelers. You don’t think Fitz isn’t wanting to put to rest all the controversy?? And having seen the Cowboys play they aren’t that great. But we beat the Panthers twice? I think 10-6 isn’t far off the mark, But some of the wins and losses don’t quite add up.

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  9. Why would any nfl team want the face of that team to be thought of nationally as a low life.. trade Winston so our ladies can wear the new bucs qb shirt around town with pride.

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    • Sadly, there’s a pretty long list of guys who have been “low life” “face of the team” (see the QB we’re about to face on Monday as an example)….the NFL isn’t exactly filled with choir boys.

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  10. “Remember throwing the ball up off his back foot under duress to Chris Godwin in the preseason game at Tennessee? Godwin came down with it despite the throw being in triple coverage, but that’s an interception most of the time.”

    Man, I’m so tired of people being critical about that play. It’s like for most people, their minds inexplicably blacked out the part where there was a penalty flag thrown on the defense well before that throw and it was a total free play….which is just kinda an important detail when evaluating that play.

    I expect this kind of forgetfulness from casual fans, but from PR? Come on, man.

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    • Fr, they try to argue that he still makes poor decisions when throwing the ball, but that’s the best thing he could of done, the worst thing that could of happened was they intercept the pass but it doesn’t count because they jumped offsides, he got the most out of the play knowing it was a free play. That was a great play by jameis and shows football smarts. Aaron Rodgers does the same thing all the time but no one complains about that

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  11. Keep Fitz as the starter for this year until he falters. Koetter needs to win and we are doing that. No reason to change it now. We can revisit Winston as Starter when something changes or next Season. If we pull Fitz now and Winston falters, we cannot be guaranteed that Fitz continues to play at this level.

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  12. EastEndBoy, loved your comments and observations.
    All of this hubbub over an incomplete pass in the front seat of a car and by a woman who said it wasn’t about the money until she sued him for the money.
    If Winston is guilty of that just because the woman said he was although he was never charged for anything, then we must dismiss Judge Kavenaugh’s Supreme Court nomination for his behavior just because a woman said he did it. And his actions were far worse and more violent.
    Toofamiliar17, excellent call. I too had also forgotten about that flag but it did play an intergal part in his decision making on that play.

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  13. I don’t think the risk-throw argument completely goes exclusively AGAINST Winston and FOR Fitzpatrick. For example, we haven’t faced an opposing offense that controls the clock with a ground game and minimizes our opportunities for long passes when we have the ball. With minimal opportunity to establish a passing game, one will NEED to take more risk-throws to have successful long passes.

    So, I actually think of a possibility that Winston could’ve averaged 500+ yards and 5+ TDs over the last two games.

    So embrace whatever narrative you want to appease your audience, but me personally, I like thinking for myself. I don’t like having sport analysts think for me.

    I think it’s pretty much a guarantee Fitz starts game 4 regardless of the Steelers-game outcome. I’m all for starting Winston game 5, but I reserve the right to change my mind as we move closer to game 5 and the next two games are in the books.

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  14. I support the Bucs first, Jamies second. And I’m a Jamies supporter, with no apologies. That said, until I see something to the contrary, we have to stick with Fitz. I’m about W’s and a shot at the playoffs. My guess is Koetter is as well.

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  15. Well said Dman.

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  16. In your comments after the Redskins’ game, you say they will be 3 games over .500 for the first time since 2016, but you had them starting 3-0 this year.

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  17. Brate and Humphries have been sucking the safeties in with their shallow crossers enablung Fotz to have all those 1v1 opportunities deep. Opposing defenses will start leaving the safeties deep and that’s when Brate and Hump will start to rack up some catches.

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    • Only two safeties, we have 4 receivers with 4.5 speed, Mike, Chris, OJ and DeSean. That’s what is making this hard to contain right now. You can’t double team them all.

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  18. Interesting read on revised wins. not only do you predict the W’s and L’s but very specific on scenarios. Lol

    I disagree on them losing 3 or 4 in a row and winning 4 in a row like you picked though. I just don’t see it like that. Games all somewhat close at end so I think the wins and losses will be more spadic.

    I said beginning season they will fall somewhere between 7-10 wins. Now that we have seen the O line play better than expected, Fitzmagic etc I’ll go with the top of it and say 10 very possible if stay healthy.

    I already said what I think about Fitz you ride that train until it stops. Long season and he’s 35 he will need Winston back at some point and the team needs to evaluate him. I think way he played pre season he was ready to round the corner.

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  19. Meant sporadic on wins and losses. Stupid phones are a pain.

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  20. I’m a Winston supporer unless he comes back and just looks same or gets in more trouble now that he’s had the suspension. That said dr d. Winston is an emotional leader and Bucs like that. Yes that’s true, but when you come out so amped up you sail balls over guys heads or you act immature in starting fight in New Orleans we don’t need that garbage. Emotional but not overly so or out of control.

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  21. I agree totally with your remarks fredster.
    After the first half of his first season I posted I wished someone else would do the pregame on field warm up speech because Winston was getting to amped up.
    What we got was Gerald McCoy leading a Tony Robbins seminar at Dallas.
    The fact is that Winston seemed to be the only player on the field who so despised the thought of losing and the taste of it he wouldn’t let his team quit or just go along with the go along atmosphere.
    That is one od the reasons the Bucs choose him.
    I also agree with your statement about the New Orleans incident. That was distasteful.
    And as bad as it looked, I approved of what Evans did because he only saw the second half of the incident.
    Nothing wrong with a player coming to the aide of his teammate.
    This team was still in need of a leader last year or Winston wouldn’t have had to get in Fatso Baker’s face for his uncaring attitude in the Panthers game. Fortunately Kwon Alexander stepped in too and it now seems he is the leader of the defense instead of the go along McCoy.
    I mean really Gerald, what does it take to get you angry.
    Still, I may sound like a privleged white male pig, but I think this whole episode with the Uber driver has been blown way out of proportion.
    As far as I’m concerned, Winston made a pass, she said no, he stopped.
    But alarmists, headline writers and hacks like Tom Jones have to show fake outrage and continue to grind out columns about Winston because they don’t have enough of an imagination to think of anything else to write about.
    Last week was another instance.
    He went on and on about Winston’s behavior and said no one would ever forget about the incident, how much it will stain the team and how all of Tampa will be embarrassed when the announcers during the game will continue to talk about the event.
    The bet here is the announcers might mention it once briefly and then move on. They won’t even mention that Big Ben had the same problem.
    Which somehow Jones has conveinently forgotten about Big Ben’s suspension for the same thing and in actuality his behavior and physicality was much worse and was reported that it was hardly the first time he had indulged his lust in it.
    Nary a word was mentioned about Ben, or how the city of Pittsburgh has lived in shame since the incident and how the Steelers are forever stained because they are still letting him play for them.
    What a big fat hypocrite.

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  22. Also why does Pewter Reprt think Dallas will beat us? Dak sucks! Over rated for sure. Their defense is better than average but they have no offense or weapons!!!!!!

    The talent depleted Seahawks are beating them solidly. Lol.

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