Welcome to The Hook, my weekly column which hooks you into a different Tampa Bay Buccaneers topic each Thursday, as well as some of my thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL at the end in a section called Cannon Blast.

I invite you to offer me some feedback on The Hook to help me mold it into something you want to come back to read each Thursday.


The Bucs’ marriage with Jameis Winston might be falling apart.

And like a divorce, sometimes it works out best for both parties.

Yet is this marriage salvageable? Or is one partner ready to move on?

Like most marriages, the Bucs had strong feelings about Winston and it started off with quite the wedding. The Bucs held the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and chose their partner, selecting Winston over Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. There was a flirtation with Mariota, but the love for Winston was too strong, and like an episode of ABC’s The Bachelor, Bucs general manager Jason Licht called Winston on the night of the draft and asked him football’s equivalent of, “Jameis Winston, will you accept this rose?”

Accept he did, and the champagne and wedding cake was served from Tampa, Florida to Bessemer, Alabama. The honeymoon went great and there was a genuine excitement heading into the first game against the Titans.

It was a made-for-TV fairytale match-up, a Rose Bowl rematch featuring Winston against Mariota, who was drafted No. 2 overall by Tennessee. Except the Bucs and Winston weren’t “Tennessee ready” under former coach Lovie Smith, and Tampa Bay and its groom was blindsided by the Titans, losing 42-14.

Photo by: Getty Images

Since then, like almost all marriages, there has been ups and downs.

A 9-7 record during the 2016 season and a narrow miss of the playoffs certainly qualified for a high, as did Winston’s Pro Bowl berth as a rookie the year before. A three-game league suspension for violating the NFL’s conduct policy to begin the 2018 campaign was without question, a low.

The 2019 season was filled with the ultimate highs but also the extreme lows.

Winston had 33 touchdown passes, which was a franchise record – a high.

Winston also tossed 30 interceptions, which led the NFL – a low.

Winston passed for 5,109 yards, and became just one of eight quarterbacks in NFL history to hit the 5,000-yard mark – a high.

Winston also threw an NFL record seven pick-sixes – a low.

The five-year marriage between Winston and the Bucs has been just like the 2019 season – up and down, winding, turning, flipping all around.

There is the rush of adrenaline, but also that knot in your stomach and a sense of nauseous at times during the Winston ride.

It can be thrilling, and you think you want to ride it again. Maybe. But can you stomach it?

That is what ownership, general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians are still trying to figure out in the month of February.

Bryan Glazer and Bucs GM Jason Licht
Bucs co-chair Bryan Glazer & GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs fans, like the kids and other family members do in an unstable marriage, tend to pick sides. And like real life, it isn’t particularly healthy and can lead to some heated debates on Twitter and elsewhere.

Like a marriage that has so much time invested in it, there comes a time to try and decide if it is worth saving. That’s where the Bucs are as Valentine’s Day approaches – nearly one month until the start of NFL free agency in 2020.

Will their partner – in this case their quarterback – ever change? Can he change and stop turning the ball over at the highest rate in the league? Do you believe him when he says week after week, game after game, that he knows he needs to change?

Unfortunately, like a rocky marriage, things get said – sometimes out of frustration. Sometimes to try and make the other person change. And sometimes just because you don’t really have any answers.

“That’s the thing, there’s so much good. There’s so much good and there’s so much outright terrible. So, we have to weigh that and see what happens.” – Bruce Arians

If you think for a second that didn’t sting Winston and his camp a little, you are gravely mistaken.

“Free agency – who’s available. What’s behind door number two? That’s the first question. As you evaluate for the draft, that’s another question. Are they better than what you have? And then you evaluate and that’s when you make your decisions.” – Arians

And if the first quote didn’t sting enough, the next one probably felt like a slap in the face. That’s Arians admitting that the grass might be greener in free agency and/or the NFL Draft and that the Bucs plan on talking to other quarterbacks to see if one of them might be a better fit in Tampa Bay.

Five years. Playing through injuries. Three different head coaches. Working harder than anyone in the building. A lack of a running game for the most part. Spotty pass protection at times. Defenses that were historically bad through stretches. Kickers missing important kicks. Being the face of the franchise. Changing lives in the community. Never throwing teammates or former coaches under the bus.

Human nature tells us those comments didn’t just sting Winston, they hurt to a degree. Maybe not a slap in the face, but close to it.

Even Winston’s biggest critics can’t argue any of the above observations. Jameis Winston has done everything right. Everything he possibly could to win games for the Buccaneers.

Photo by: Getty Images

But all those interceptions.

Those damn turnovers.

And the win-loss column over the last five years (32-48) tells the biggest story that the organization is looking at.

Unfortunately, in the NFL there is no marriage counselor. You work the issues out on your own, or you move on.

And while we all await the Buccaneers’ decision on Winston’s future in Tampa Bay, which will likely come in March, as Arians suggested in his post-season press conference on December 30, do we know for sure that Winston himself wants to come back? Does Winston want to save this marriage? Maybe he is ready to move on and find a new partner in free agency.

The one thing neither side can do, is let pride get in the way and string out a partnership that is going nowhere. Why delay it? If either side isn’t 100 percent committed, why not just rip the band-aid off quickly?

The longer it goes, the more likely it is to get messy. Winston and his camp know the Bucs are considering dating others. Maybe Winston is flirting with others, too. They are essentially separated for right now.

Is the grass greener for one side, both sides or neither? The Buccaneers have walked away from every single quarterback they have drafted in the history of the franchise. They’ve yet to ever renew their vows with their chosen partner.

Some of the Bucs’ decisions were good ones. Some of them were awful.

Doug Williams. Steve Young. Some might even argue Trent Dilfer. Three former quarterbacks that the organization didn’t see a future with that went on to lead their future marriage partners to a Super Bowl. The Buccaneers at the time thought Jack Thompson, Vinny Testaverde and Shaun King were better options.

We all know how that turned out.

Former Bucs QB Steve Young
Former Bucs QB Steve Young – Photo by: Getty Images

This marriage is at a crossroads and no one can accurately predict where it goes or how it turns out, as money will play a factor. If this were a romantic Hollywood movie, Winston would come back, lead Tampa Bay to become the first team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium and wind up winning multiple Lombardi trophies. Parades would follow, games would be sold out for years, and everyone lives happily ever after.

But this isn’t Hollywood. It’s Tampa.

If I was Licht, I would give Winston one last shot with the franchise tag. Prove to me you can be a better spouse and meet my needs (fewer turnovers). Prove to me the post-game press conference soundbites are for real, as actions speak louder than words. I would also give him everything he needs to succeed. Make fixing the running game a priority this offseason with another dynamic running back and another key piece or two along the offensive line.

But I also identify and admit my weaknesses over the years, and strive to become a better spouse by giving Winston the support he needs. I take responsibility for some of the pain inflicted during this marriage.

It’s a two-way street, but let’s give it one more year.

One last chance to save a partnership that everyone wants to see succeed. Both partners must put their 100 percent effort into making it work with a better ground game for support from the organization and fewer interceptions from Winston in the second year in Arians’ offense.

And a year from now, if nothing changes and the Bucs aren’t in the playoffs, then both parties know they did everything they could. If it doesn’t work, both sides can walk away with their heads held high with no animosity.


CANNON BLAST

Cook’s musings and ramblings about the Buccaneers and the NFL. Good stuff. Check it out.

Speaking of bad marriages, has there even been a more painful breakup that the one between the Buccaneers and quarterback Doug Williams following the 1982 season? Williams was coming off of his third trip to the playoffs in four seasons (1979, ’81, ’82) and was making $120,000. To put that in perspective, Williams was not only the lowest paid quarterback in the league, 12 backups made more money than he did. Read that again – 12 backups made more money than Williams did!

Former Former Bucs QB Doug Williams
Former Bucs QB Doug Williams – Photo by Allen’s Studio/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Williams and his camp asked for $600,000 during contract negotiations, and owner Hugh Culverhouse came back with a counter of $400,000 and some real estate. Now from what we understand, some of that real estate would have made Williams millions, but can you blame the guy for wanting his salary in cash – not partially in the form of land deeds? And to make things even worse, Williams had just weeks before suffered a terrible tragedy when he wife died suddenly following surgery for a brain tumor. She was 26.

The two never reached an agreement, and the decision set the organization back for years. Williams headed to the USFL where he was the quarterback for the Oklahoma/Arizona Outlaws for two seasons before being signed by the Washington Redskins in 1986. It took from 1982 until 1997 before the Bucs would return to the postseason. And Bucs fans had to watch Williams be named the Super Bowl MVP with the Redskins in 1987.

It’s always been a Bucs’ life.

• So it is now confirmed that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston had a LASIK procedure to correct his nearsighted issue. Many fans are begging the question, why did it take so long?

Well for one thing, like many surgeries that are performed, there isn’t a perfect track record and it is still a serious procedure that isn’t without risks. It doesn’t take but a few seconds to Google what those risks are. Double vision, glare, halos, regression of the vision – loss of vision. We only have two eyeballs and you can’t order an extra set from Amazon – at least not yet. So I get why Winston waited.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

But many players play football with vision issues. Former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one who wore glasses or contacts 21 hours a day. The only time he didn’t was on Sunday during football games. But trying to sack a quarterback lined up less that five feet away from you, is a little different than trying to identify wide receivers from defenders 30 yards down the field.

I have no idea if this LASIK surgery will decrease Winton’s interception totals. As a person who is also nearsighted I have my doubts. It isn’t like Winston is a sniper for the Navy Seals. Winston and I can see things in the distance, just not in sharp focus. He saw Darius Leonard in the Colts game just fine, he just might not have been able to read what Leonard had written on this wristbands.

It really boils down to decision-making when it comes to Winston’s interceptions. And if that doesn’t improve, then the only thing Winston will see more clearly is the outline of the numbers on the back of the jersey as the defender who intercepted the pass is racing towards the opposite end zone.

• I remember when I found out I was nearsighted. My dad and I were working out in a field burning a brush pile on a fairly warm day back in 2010. We had taken a break and my Dad asked me to dry the sweat off his glasses. I took a dry towel wiped them down and as a joke, I  put them on. It was like a scene from a movie where the clouds parted, and heavenly choir music started playing. I could see!

I remember thinking to myself, wow this is how normal people see. Sharp, clear edges off in the distance. I could make out the spikes on a pine cone in a tree 50 yards away instead of just seeing a brown shape hanging. I could see my cousin Eddie (yes, I really have cousin Eddie) out behind his barn 300 yards away.

It was like going from a grainy old television set in the 1970’s to the more modern Ultra 4K. It was that dramatic. So I don’t know. Maybe having the LASIK procedure helps Jameis Winston throw less interceptions. At the very least though, he will see pine cones a little clearer and his cousin Eddie – if he has one.

• I miss Pat Summerall calling games for CBS and later on for FOX. I miss Frank Gifford, “Dandy” Don Meredith and Howard Cosell in the Monday Night Football booth. Dick Enberg, Charlie Jones, Dick Stockton, they have all gone on to the big TV booth in the sky. Rest in Peace guys.

Uh, what’s that?  Stockton is still alive and doing Bucs games? My bad.

But you get what I am saying if you are an old-timer like me. The new crop of announcers just aren’t the same.

I don’t hate Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, I mean they are no Lindsey Nelson and Hank Stram. But they aren’t the worst, are they? Well plenty of people think so.

Are we sure Stockton is still alive? Hey interns, can you Google that for me?

He is? Okay, good.

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

110 COMMENTS

  1. Make no mistake this is Big decision for Bucs brass.

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  2. Tag him and draft a qb in the middle rounds of the draft if one with potential is available. Can’t hurt to have Winston compete with a young and hungry quarterback.

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    • And jameis had meniscus surgery as well that he played on last year.

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      • I actually met Jamie’s towards the end of the season and shook his hand with the broken finger lol. That man was playing hurt for sure.

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        • Jameis* autocorrect.

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      • so now suddenly Winston had a torn meniscus. Pretty amazing that none of that was reported. I’ve been following the Bucs for many years and I’ve never heard of so many excuses being made for one player. If Winston had a injury of this nature then the coaching staff is at fault for allowing him to play. If this injury is legit and Winston hid it from the medical staff and his coaches then he is at fault for playing.

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        • This isn’t really uncommon in sports. A lot of players play through injury due to being very competitive. Winston also had a lot to play for this season so I can only imagine that he felt like he really needed to play this year so being on the sidelines wasn’t an option for him. It can be selfish, but I can understand why he would do it.

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        • @LIBucsFan93-you are probably a really good guy but I gotta say, your comment comes off very poorly and surely does not take in to consideration how many players play through injuries whether it be a broken thumb (as Jameis did) or a broken bone in their back as did Romo. Additionally, when a player is in a contract year and as competitive as athletes are, they make decisions for a myriad of reasons but for you to say ANYONE is “at fault” for playing comes of as ignorant.

          I am no Jameis apologist. Nor would I accept any of this as excuses for his 30 interceptions (7 for scores??? ugh) but he certainly is not at fault nor would they release that type of intel.

          You don’t have to like him. You don’t have to like his play. But you certainly cannot fault him for trying to win. I personally think he is our best option at winning now due to his being in BA’s offense for a year and with the hopes of an improved line and running game. If he blows it then we are in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes and finally Licht is gone!

          Go Bucs!!

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  3. Great article on cbs on why to keep jameis for one more year. And let me preface this by saying the turnovers are inacceptable, so i dont even want to hear about them. We all know they have to be cut back.
    Heres why this team has been the last 5 years.
    Yards per carry – 30th (3.9)
    Rushing yards per game – 24th (103.4)
    First down % on rushes – 31st (19.9%)
    Rushing TDs – 25th
    Points Allowed – 31st (2081, only Miami – 2089 – is worse)
    Opposer Passer Rating – 31st (97.0, only Detroit – 98.6 – is worse)
    Scrimmage Yards Allowed – 25th (377.2/game)
    And I say again before sunshine and buc ass slob and florida boy pounce on the turnovers again, and again, and again. Lets remember this team hasn’t done him any favors om the field outside of godwin and big mike.

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    • But, but, but, he has a loosing record… that’s another one you forgot to throw in there because clearly football is an individual sport. Lol

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    • people know, they just dont like him so they blame him for every single thing. as bad as the picks were last season i remember plenty of games the last 5 years where Winston would orchestrate would looked like the game winning drive and a kicker would throw it away or the defense would let the other team march down the field, unfortunately alot of Bucs fans operate on emotion over logic

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      • People “just don’t like” losing. They “just don’t like” the QB giving up possession of the football over one hundred times. They “just don’t like” the QB putting the defense in terrible situations and wasting his teammates’ best efforts.

        Seems logical to me, Bones.

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        • Or you could just say “you don’t like Jameis” because that fits better into your narrative. 👍🏼 And yeah, a historically bad defense that gave up over 30 a game was on the QB. Or perhaps the awfully predictable run game had something to do with it? There’s plenty of blame to go around but you keep putting it on the QB like you have for months now

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    • Solid points CG, thanks for the shout-out btw. 🙂 Have never disputed that the team could’ve definitely performed better in certain areas, and is the main reason overall why the Bucs as a team are 32-48 over the last 5 years. That’s indisputable, and also the main reason why we shouldn’t use the overall record when evaluating Winston. The Bucs overall record isn’t what I, and believe others, have the greatest issue with actually, it’s Winston’s mentality and decision-making. And let’s not act like Evans and Godwin are the only two good players on offense. Brate (and Humphries ) have been JW’s security blanket as well the last couple of years, and the OL actually graded out pretty well this year overall by PFF (for what that’s worth… think they finished 7th). Not to mention the impactful players added on D last season. Rambling though, back to the point… 🙂

      First question would be, where does the team need to rank in each of those categories in order for you to feel JW is being objectively evaluated? Top 5, 10, 15, 20? Not sure how many teams are going to be say, in the top 20 in every category, but lets say about half the teams in the league. For the QB’s not on those teams, what’s an acceptable number of TD’s/Int’s and overall team wins that you consider acceptable?

      Second question would be, which categories are most critical to Winston lowering his turnovers? Say if the defense becomes top-10 across the board and the rushing doesn’t improve, Bucs finish 8-8, but Winston still struggles with the fumbles and picks. Do we sign him to the tag again and wait another year to see if maybe we can improve the rush game for him in 2021? For those that weren’t aware, Winston will be the 5th highest paid QB in the league if we sign him to the franchise tag in March and take up over 13% of the Bucs salary cap alone.

      My point is, it’s almost as if you’re saying Winston has to have a perfect scenario in order to limit the turnovers and for the Bucs to win. Very few teams have that scenario, but most still find a way to win games at a greater clip than the Bucs. Won’t get into more stats, but find it interesting that Fitz (who’s a turnover machine in his own right) played on a MUCH worse Miami team overall statistically than TB, only lost 2 more games than Winston in a stronger division, yet had 20 less turnovers. Also crazy how we scored the same # of points as the 13-3 Saints and only allowed 4 more pts/game on average (when subtracting the 7 pick-6’s), yet we won 6 fewer games.

      As unfair as it may seem, as a QB, along with the $$ and the fame comes most of the blame. Not just a JW thing, just part of the game…

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      • Great post FLBoy, agree especially re: Winston’s decision making being a big part of the problem

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    • Could it be that the running games stats are bad because the offense sputters early in games and the Bucs are behind double digit points. Couldn’t possibly be that turnovers put the Defense in bad field position or the defense is gassed late in games from being on the field for to many snaps.

      As some say it’s a team sport.

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    • Ahhh… There’s a flaw in your premise regarding the offense did Winston no favors.

      GM Licht fully believed that Winston could hide the deficiencies of the offense. This is why in six years, Licht has spent assets in the following way:

      * Oline: 2 picks in the top two rounds (in the same draft year); 3 picks in the top three rounds
      * WRs: 1 pick in the top two rounds; 2 picks in the top three rounds
      * TEs: 2 picks in the top two rounds
      * RBs: 1 pick in the top two rounds; 2 picks in the top three rounds

      * Dline: 2 picks in the top two rounds
      * LB: 1 pick in the top two rounds; 2 picks in the top three rounds
      * DB: 5 picks in the top two rounds; 7 picks in the top three rounds

      * K: 1 pick in the top two rounds
      * QB: 1 pick in the top two rounds

      We don’t invest in enough OLine assets in the top two rounds because Licht was sold that Winston was that franchise QB that can elevate the players around him. Even when Koetter pointed out that Winston isn’t that level of QB, Licht didn’t care and left Koetter without a starting RG in 2018. (Remember, we drafted Cappa in the third round without signing a FA RG and then Cappa couldn’t beat out Benenoch, who was a turnstile during his play at starting RG.)

      GM Licht still continued to believe that Winston was that franchise QB that can elevate players around him and that it was bad coaching that held Winston back. So onto Arians we go and even Arians failed.

      Even with the 2019 OLine produced better as a group, it didn’t produce yards like the previous year. Thus, Koetter’s group was better a run blocking and pass blocking with a far weaker OLine grouping.

      Now, the secondary. Again, this is on Licht to find talent. It wasn’t Smithy’s defense that was porous, but the lack of talent he was given. The 2016 draft class ended up being abysmal. CB VH3 (1st), DE Spence (2nd), K Aguayo (2nd), CB Smith (4th), OL Benenoch (5th). The fact we had to spend 6 draft picks on DBs in consecutive years should tell you a lot about the lack of scouting talent GM Licht possesses (3 second round picks, 2 third round picks, and a fourth round pick).

      But are the Bucs not doing enough for Winston? Or is Winston also the part of the problem?

      2018 before benching (Winston)
      Games = 4
      Comp pct = 64.9 %
      TDs = 6 (1.5 per game)
      INTs = 10 (2.5 per game)
      Sacks = 13 (3.25 per game)

      2018 after benching (Winston)
      Games = 7
      Comp pct = 64.3 %
      TDs = 13 (1.86 per game)
      INTs = 4 (0.57 per game)
      Sacks = 14 (2.00 per game)

      From the before and after benching comparisons, Winston is his own worst enemy.

      Also, for the fifth straight year, Deep Ball Project breaks down the efficiency of QB’s. Here’s what’s common with Winston:

      Pass Range
      * short = poor
      * intermediate = amazing
      * deep = poor

      Pass Window
      * open = below average
      * tight = amazing

      Winston is a one-trick pony. So if we’re a one-dimension offense (passing only) and Winston is only great at one portion of the passing offense, then we’re doomed to fail if we don’t have a competent run game.

      Talk about run game, Licht drafted RB Ronald Jones in the second round of the 2018 draft. Jones is an explosive runner, but doesn’t catch the ball or is on passing downs to pass block ever in college. In Koetter’s offense, he often passes the ball to the RB, uses the RB to chip block and become a safety valve, or makes the RB pick up blitzes. Jones didn’t do any of those things in college except run wild.

      Licht falls in love with talent and cannot see imperfections. We wasted a season (2018) on Cappa. We wasted a season and a half on Rojo. We’re still waiting on CB MJ Stewart after two years. We’re still waiting on Winston to be a franchise QB after five years.

      The more excuses fans make for Winston is the same psychology that Licht does to stick with Winston.

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      • Abysmal 16 draft is putting it nicely! I think Smith wanted VH3. BUT the rest of the picks are on Licht. The trade to move back looked good at first then 3 players drafted way before they should have. A Fing kicker 2nd round, Licht will own that pick forever!!

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      • HD that is a very well put together assessment. The apologists can’t have it both ways – pick your poison, either Licht sucks at evaluating talent and constructing a roster or Winston plain sucks at anything involving self control… or both.

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  4. Keep him and draft the future Bucs QB.

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  5. If Winston was hurt – he shouldn’t have played. That simple. It’s up to the coaching staff to be sensible in a situation like that, because the player is always going to run back out there. We were basically playing for nothing, already eliminated from the playoffs, and taking a live game look at Ryan Griffin would have also been a pretty good idea.

    Winston would have also not played in those last couple of games – and would have likely been resigned. In those final two games, he really crapped the bed, and threw some extra doubt on a reasonably good ending to the season.

    Oops…

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    • What I saw in those last two games was JW making throws and scoring with one receiver that could actually catch he plays hard no matter what is thrown at him.

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      • Perhaps you need to have your eyeglass prescription checked…

        I saw us get shut out completely in the 2nd half of the ATL game. Also saw 2 Pick 6’s (and would have been 3 if not for a Texans penalty), and a total of 6 INTs in the last two games.

        Way to dig through the negative haystack to find the positive needle.

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    • What was the motivation for keeping Winston in games, provided he was healthy, for Arians? Chasing the wins. This is a terrible way of doing things because you’re not setting yourself up for the next move or moves. Arians was playing checkers instead of playing chess. We would have gained a lot more if Griffin was inserted to see what exactly do we have in Griffin because Griffin always shows up in pre-season, but never given any playing time in the regular season, even with the season gone.

      In 2018, Koetter kept Winston in, but not necessarily to win games. Koetter wanted to prove he could alter Winston’s wild west style and corralling him. This was season 4 for Winston and Koetter did prove that Winston became an efficient, risk averse QB after his benching. (I presented the Winston splits in the comments above.) Winston did change and that type of efficient QB is something the franchise can bank on.

      Unfortunately, Arians has a “No risk it, no biscuit” philosophy. That mentality unraveled the three-and-half years of pleading to Winston to stop risking it by Koetter. Arians got what he wanted, a “No risk it, no biscuit” QB in Winston and Winston risked far too much. This was Winston’s 5th year. The original backup QB was Blaine Gabbert, an Arians selection, but he was lost for the season due to injury. Griffin was a Koetter pickup and Arians didn’t want to trust him. We didn’t draft a QB in 2019 in the middle rounds and with the season already lost, knowing what we have in Griffin would have been a prudent move.

      Now, Arians is saying it doesn’t matter who the QB is. That’s a farce because Arians could have inserted Griffin when he wanted to him to start, but didn’t. Griffin could have a been a possible bridge QB for us, but we’ll never know.

      Why?

      Because Licht and Arians are chasing for wins as opposed to building for the future. And now Arians has thrown Winston under the Bus despite Winston implementing what Arians wanted. It’s Arians who kept throwing Winston onto the field, not Winston b/c Winston isn’t the coach.

      CB, we should have traded down from 1st overall in 2015 and built up our program like you said several years ago. LoL But would we have a great team by now with Licht also not drafting well enough to help today when it needed it?

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      • This is an excellent explanation to the question “why play Winston when he was hurt”?
        We don’t mention it enough but Arians has done Winston no favors here. Don’t get me wrong he put Winston back out there because Winston was chasing 5000yds History But Winston was also chasing another History 30 Int. Arians should have benched Winston before the Colts game but definitely after throwing those picks to Darius Leonard. What smart coach keeps letting there QB throw picks to start the game like that. But Arians was more hellbent on promoting his Offensive System than he was about Winston and the rest team.
        The Greatest Coaches are those who can “Adapt”. Arians tried to fit Winston into his system instead of creating a system to fit Winston into.
        Fans of this team have taken Winston and his turnovers too personally. The truth of the matter is Winston desperately wants to Win but But BUT he needs the right system around him.

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        • Good assessment. Jameis certainly didn’t help himself but neither did his coaches

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  6. Great article. Fair points about the relationship being a 2-way street. Jameis might want to sign with a team that has a decent rushing attack, a good defense, and stable coaching situation that isn’t changing constantly.

    Bucs will be left picking through or trading for strong armed scheme fitting QB leftovers like Andy Dalton or Joe Flacco while they groom a rookie like Eason or Love.

    SMH. It’s a Bucs life.

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    • Andy Dalton lmao. People actually want him here and it’s hilarious.

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      • Even worse that anyone would even suggest joe flacco. That dude is just terrible.

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        • I think with flacco, he just became way too complacent after winning the super bowl and getting paid that big contract. The guy is just playing to get paid, don’t want that crap here either.

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        • Agreed. Was initially in on Dalton just based on the name and the Bengals making the playoffs fairly consistently, but after looking closer, not so much. And Flacco…. HELL no.

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      • At least Andy has played in a few playoff games. I was a young man the last time the Bucs played in a playoff game. Sadly losing to the Redskins. Dalton would thrive with this receiving corp.

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        • Andy Dalton may have appeared in the playoffs but his performance in them have all been forgettable.

          0-4 record
          55% completion
          873 yards
          1 td
          6 INT
          4 fumbles

          In all 4 of those games Andy Dalton and the bengals scored no higher than 13 points in those games.

          Still want him?

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          • CRICKETS BucRy!!!!! LMMFAO

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  7. What a complete load of crap.

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  8. Good Article. I liked the breakdown and comparisons to marriage. Been there done that. I agree at least one more year With Winston Is best option to win in 2020, and please for gods sake fix O line and run game. Then you can really evaluate and move on if need be. What QB has had success with a leagues worst defense and shaky run game? None!

    I just don’t see any of the free agent names available coming in here and playing well enough first year in a new offense to get us to playoffs. Yes that includes 43 year old Brady with his arm that’s not the same last year.
    If that happens then I’ll be first to say I was wrong.

    If Bucs run ball at least average, have average defense all year not just last few games of year, Leftwhich play calling improves, and Winston still throws too many int. Next year, Then I’ll be first to say see ya! I see no harm in giving it one more year when you see the potential he has. Again I don’t see another QB coming in and first season on new team and offense, Being better overall and getting us to post season. It sure as hell won’t happen if you draft a rookie so one more year then decide please.

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    • I agree with bringing him back for one more year but as far as what QB has won with a poor run game and shaky D, PLUS a poor o line would be Russel Wilson. Just sayin…..

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  9. Imo you could plug a Bridgewater, or Tannehill into Dallas with that O line and run game offense and they could have success. You can’t do that with Bucs imo. Will see how plays out.

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    • Dak Prescott would be out of football by now instead of trying to break the bank if he wasn’t in Dallas. It’s Amazing what a great Oline can do for an Offense.

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  10. All the above…… Just wish we could get this behind us. Half the fans will probably be pissed regardless. I am partially in for one more year but more important to me is I am tired of reading about it everyday. I want to read about the other 21 starters.

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    • Exactly – like how are we doing with Shaq Barrett? JPP? Suh?

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      • JPP on Instagram said he gave it his all. Sounds like writing on the wall.
        Willie McGinnest on NFL network said he thought Clowney might sign in Tampa to play for Bowles opposite Barrett. Yes, please!

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        • I would love Clowney, but doesn’t he wants near $20Mil?

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          • Yep. Thats about what Suh and JPP made last year combined. Another option if the Bucs dump Suh and JPP is to sign OT Taylor Lewan from Tennessee.

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        • A week ago JPP posted a flex pose with the caption “They say I’m getting skinny, but I know I’m heavy tho!! This my year I feel it and God gonna show y’all not MEEEE!!!!!”. 4 days ago he posted a pic of himself in his Bucs uni with the caption “All I did was try my best. 90PC”. He posts a variety of vague/sometimes inspirational stuff, so it’s hard to really nail down what he’s exactly saying sometimes. A guess would be that he and the Bucs talked numbers and he’s going to look elsewhere.

          The 3-4 OLB market is pretty odd. Only 8 guys are slated to make over $10M in 2020, but those 8 range from $11.7M (Kerrigan) to $26.6M (Mack). Only 3 are making more than $20M. If he’s looking to make more than the $10.75M he made in ’19 (which is likely), going to be tough for the Bucs to make that happen while paying Barrett $18-$20M as well. Do believe it’s critical for the Bucs to have a legit OLB opposite Barrett to limit dbl-teams against him, question is how much $$ do you allot to that position.

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    • Facts! no mention of how we are doing with the front 7, if justin evans is playing football again, beckwith injury status, nothing lol

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      • Believe BA mentioned there’s a good chance Beckwith’s career is probably done. Really sucks because he was really starting come on there too…

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  11. Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer to the “Do we keep Jameis” question. If they let him go and the replacement flops, were they right or wrong to replace him? It’s an impossible situation and I’m glad I’m an armchair QB. My 2 cents?

    I’m with the group that wants to sign/tag Winston for another “prove it” year. I for one do not want an aging past his prime legend to come into Tampa and not do better than what we’ve already invested in. That move could be bad for everyone involved and could permanently stain numerous careers. Give Winston 1 more year under Arians. If it doesn’t work out then they can reboot the system and hash out all the “What Ifs” that will undoubtedly be flying around the media. But…. if Winston does better…. then everyone involved is a genius. Sure, it could backfire. What’s the worst that could happen. Another losing season? Might be worth it in the long run.

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    • Just curious bucianco, how many prove it years does one player get? Thought 2019 was a prove it year!

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      • He proved many things last year – Mostly good with a few awful. Leading the league in passing yards in his first year in BAs offense can’t be overlooked. Luck, Rothlisberger, or Palmer didn’t do that.

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      • Learning under any new coach in a new system with new plays and new call signs for every position takes time to learn and absorb and become 2nd nature. I just feel, while he’s had 4 years prior to Arians to prove he’s worthy, quite frankly his head coaches were not as decorated or highly touted as Arians seems to be. Everyone on the planet knows Winston has gobs of talent. Problem is no one can seem to harness that talent and pack it into a single great season. So basically, I’d like to give Arians one more shot to prove it.

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        • What you’re not mentioning is the WR’s, TE’s, and RB’s all have options in the route. If the WR/TE/RB goes inside and Jameis reads the coverage that the WR/TE/RB should go outside, you get interceptions.

          Did you listen to Bruce Arians all year? He put so many of the interceptions on the communication and wrong route of the route runner week after week after week.

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          • So now it’s the OL, WR, TE, RB, defense and prior HC’s fault that the human turnover machine has shown the same tendencies and behaviors over the last five years and three regimes that he showed in college?

            You do realize the absurdity of these excuses, right? Occam’s Razor says it’s Winston. And so does the tape.

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  12. So what is really important as to the March date for Free Agency for the Bucs.

    Let’s think out of the box. Take care of our “need to sign priorities” and let’s see what we got left as to cap room. Let Winston go find his true market value before we do anything. The HC said most QB’s can fit into the offensive scheme.
    What’s our hurry?

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  13. Thought there was some new information here. All I read was history.

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  14. You brought back memories of the Monday Night Threesome. Never will forget Frank saying “There’s a fan signaling his team is number one”.

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  15. “Winston did everything right”

    Except get suspended for alleged sexual assault. I mean, that wasn’t ‘right’.

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    • Point on the doll where he hurt you, Butters…

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      • Now THAT was funny!!!

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  16. Do we know how Winstons camp will feel if he is tagged?

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    • Not too happy I’m sure, but it’s not like he can really do much about it except perform well to prove he’s worth a long term contract.

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      • Like any player, I’m sure he’d like a long-term deal. But does being the 5th highest paid QB in the league making approx $28M (top-5 average), and having the ability to cash in again next year if you do well, really suck? He just made $21M this past season doing the same thing.

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        • Top 5 average is expected to be over 34 million in 2020.

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          • Per Wikipedia, the “exclusive” franchise tag is the average of the top five QB salaries in 2020, or 120 percent of Winston’s 2019 salary. I mistakenly used 2019 cap hits instead of 2020 in my calculations above. Using the 2020 cap amts I got about a $31M/avg. Most of the projections I’ve found online though, based on a $200M cap, have the QB tag projected between $26-$28M. Guess we won’t know for certain until the actual salary cap total is announced. Where’d you see/come up with the $34M SB?

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        • We won’t know what the new contracts will look like until they’re signed for a few top signal callers. We do know that in 2020 Jared Goff is at $36M, Big Ben is at $33.5M, Cousins and Wilson are at $31M each. Averaging those 5 brings it to a tag cost of $32.875M!

          Dak is expected to fetch near $40M. Brady could sign for $35 in LA. Rivers could sign for $25-$35 in Indy/elsewhere. If any of those situations occur it will create a tag that costs as much as $35.5M or as little as $33.5M

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          • OOps, I meant averaging the top 4 that are already signed is $32.875M. More coffee still needed this morning!

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          • Also have heard talk that Mahomes may sign an extension this offseason before the new CBA. That would also be a $40M deal. The tag keeps growing. If Mahomes($40), Dak($40), Goff($36), Big Ben($33.5), and Brady($32) round out the top 5 with these expected deals, the franchise tag could be $36.2M for ONE YEAR! That is fricking insane. No way the Bucs franchise Winston, nor should they. Bad business decision.

            While Winston franchised at $34 Million or more is not my idea of cap friendly deal, the Bucs are in a worse hurt locker if Winston improves and takes the Bucs to the playoffs in 2020. Then they HAVE to sign him to a mega deal.

            If they can sign him to a deal structured like Donovan Smith, it makes the most sense to me. 4 years at $28M/yr, 2 guaranteed, incentives for playoffs, fan attendance, tds, and limiting his giveaways.

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          • Could be wrong, but pretty sure it’s the top 5 average, not 4, and the franchise tag $$ amount is based on the #’s in place at the start of the league year, not on any future deals that “might” be signed.

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        • Definitely the top 5 salaries, but the contract info I had was incomplete. There was an update on the 2020 salary front…I posted on this weeks fab 5. Enjoy!

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      • or he could not sign the tender and sit out all of the off season workouts/pre season trying to force the Bucs into a long term deal. FML

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        • He will definitely sign the franchise tender if they offer it. It will be worth $34M for one season, fully guaranteed against injury or ineptitude.

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  17. I agree. Give jameis that one more..Make or break yr. I still get this knowing feeling in my stomach about Jameis. You know the..Love/Hate thing. But I still think..he can be the guy. ONE MORE YEAR GUYS!

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    • For $30+ million? No freakin way. Nor would I agree to Sombrero’s 4 yrs at $28 per with two yrs guaranteed. Can’t lash us to the pirate ship mast for two more years when Cap’n Winston keeps scuttling the ship. The math increasingly says he has to walk the plank

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  18. 1: Arians’ comments about JW3 remind me a lot of what he said about Gerald McCoy’s passion – or lack thereof. Time will tell if this is motivation fuel or a harbinger of Winston’s fate as a Buc.

    2: Mark knows more about The Bachelor than I do – or than I would expect. I’m sorry.

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  19. They should definitely sign the defense players to extensions first, maybe even Perriman’s deal if he isn’t being greedy. Than see what you have left, if you want to resign Jameis, which I think should be on a 1 year tag or contract. Upgrade the running game and reinforce the defense. But he would honestly be 3rd on my list if Brady makes it to FA, and I would also take Rivers over Winston right now. Regardless of who you pick, draft should be about reinforcing the running game and the defense. Then you seriously, go mortgage the farm for Trevor Lawrence next year. Even if you have to give up an RG3 like haul.

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  20. Mark. To be honest the Marriage Analogy and Jason Licht roses were actually nauseating. Stick to football.

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  21. I don’t think one year is enough for ANY QB in Bruce Arians system. To let go of Winston after only one year in BA’s system is shortsighted to say the least. The two sides in this relationship need to come together and realize that BA’s system is tailor-made for a QB like Winston. They are the perfect marriage. The problem is… they are choosing not to give their relationship enough time if in fact it is true that the relationship is dying.

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  22. Bottom line IMO is Glazer’s want to sell tickets. Licht is there puppet.

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    • ALL GMs are the puppets of their respective owners, except maybe a handful.

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  23. We have a lot of youth on the Defense. I would really like to see them fix the Defense with FAs and spend the Draft on the Offense. Even if they do keep Winston it would be cool to see them try to find a hidden gem QB on Day 3 or so, someone that has what they need just maybe not a top prospect that could end up as a solid backup or trade bait later or even a starter if Winston doesn’t come through.

    Good article Mark.
    My Wife’s life changed when she got LASIK. Granted she doesn’t play football but as long as Winston doesn’t have any worse side effects than Dry Eye, I feel like it will help enough along with everything else to help him make better decisions next year. I still think people don’t realize how much being behind a shorty Oline over the years effects a QBs mentality. Even when the line holds I still feel like a QB that is constantly running for his life is affected negatively like PTSD and always has that sense that things are gonna come crashing down even when they aren’t. If they can shore up the Oline it will help greatly but the question is, is the damage already done with any QB in his situation? I really hope not, but I do know teams need to start going back to focusing on Olines more and College needs to get back to producing better prospects.

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  24. They’re going to tag him. Bring in a vet to back him up and draft a QB in middle rounds.

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  25. Arains has two good years left in him, Rivers says he wants to play two more years. It’s a marriage made in heaven. Rivers is Arains type of vet. He’ll get a two year deal, and we’ll draft a QB. Mr. Magoo is gone.

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    • Come on Bro! If Rivers actually had two good years left then the Chargers wouldn’t let him walk. Let it go!

      His arm strength has dropped. Did you even watch any tape of him? The 20 interceptioms last year were on him. His side arm release is just ugly and inefficient. He will not be here next year! Straight up!!

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      • So you like Jameis better because his 30 INTs were nice tight spirals?

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        • 1. Because he is younger
          2. Because he has a year under his belt in BA’s system
          3. He already has chemistry with Evans, Godwin, Perriman, etc…
          4. He has courage to make the throws

          I am not a fan of bringing in a high salary for a 38 yr old fading QB.
          Was that clear enough for you?

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          • Courage to make the throws? You have GOT to be kidding.

            Age has nothing to do with it – unless you’re trying to marry your daughter off to him. This is about winning. I just want a QB that doesn’t keep BOTH teams in the game.

            I also didn’t know Jameis’ Mom lived in Philly… because no one else would EVER say something like “he has the courage to make the throws” – unless you meant to say bad judgement instead.

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          • And THAT was your only take away??? “Courage to make the throws”??? You are an asshat….

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          • “And THAT was your only take away??? “Courage to make the throws”??? You are an asshat…”

            Since you are from Philly, I will bow to your expertise on the subject…

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  26. Only Steve Young was consistent. All the other QBs we let go may have 1 SB win but none of them were consistent.

    Our decision should be about consistency not Flashes of excitement.

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    • Wrong! Trent Dilfer got a SB with the Ravens. Know your history before barking.

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      • Oh and Doug Williams…..

        Bueller, Bueller. Had Williams been picked up by a Team earlier you don’t think he would have more opportunities? Or are you too young to know what you speak of???

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        • He didn’t say one combined he meant no more than one. The point was they weren’t consistent except Dilfer who was consistently bad

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          • Got it…and you are dead on with Dilfer!!!

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  27. Franchise him already! Next…!

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  28. What names do u believe might be there in the 3rd round at QB for the Bucs?

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  29. Negative Scot Peterson! The article just told u how successful QB Doug Williams was as a Buccaneer QB! I once watched, as a kid in the old sombrero, Doug Williams take a snap around the 30 or 35 yard line under heavy pressure and duress he was fallen down on his ass and just before his ass hit the ground he threw the ball out of the end zone and about 30-40 rows up in the stands for an incomplete pass, thus avoiding the sack! Doug Williams was a beast and a much better QB for the Bucs than what Steve Young was in his very brief time as the Buccaneers starting QB. Williams to Jimmie Giles with RB Ricky Bell and RB Jerry Eckwood in the backfield, the Bucs kicked some ass! I’m just saying…

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  30. It was a great article… Until you said to bring him back. You made a strong case to end it, and then backtracked to bringing him back. Winston is who he is. He will not lead this team to anything significant. The team got better around him, but he is still same old Winston.

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  31. I agree with your assessment Mark. The team’s best bet is to tag Winston and give it another year for both parties to go all in. After that, if it’s not going to work then at least we all know for sure that it couldn’t be saved. I’ve seen far too many players leave Tampa to become all stars for other teams.

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    • Every team has had players that have left and had successful careers elsewhere, though the ones who move on and flame out or never reach the heights they accomplished with their original team are far more common. It’s not just a Tampa thing (see Denver and Shaq Barrett as the latest example). Every situation is different, but personally have no qualms if a guy has a successful career elsewhere after leaving. If you’re a fan of the team and players, would think most of us wish former Bucs well (except maybe Anthony Collins and Chris Baker) and hope they have long, healthy, successful careers after leaving Tampa.

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      • True, I just see too much talent being let go. For all the negatives with Winston, I’ve seen far too many plays that otherwise wouldn’t have happened without him. The grass isn’t always greener as they say.

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  32. Mark, I enjoyed Hank Steam too as a commentator m. He used to predict the plays based on the formation all the time!

    As for Don, no one could top his singing “Turn out the lights the party’s over.

    Finally, I still remember being at the stadium vs LA in 80 for MNF. Fans made a great ABC #1 sign but when they got on tv they pulled it down to reveal “Cosell sucks!” I actually owned a “Carson and Cosell KISS Our Bucs” shirt when I was a kid

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  33. Talking about the direction Young’s, and Williams careers took when leaving Tampa, and comparing that to Jameis has got to be the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. Do you think Young’s success might’ve been do to the team he went to? One of the greatest franchises in the NFL, Bill Walsh, Joe Montana. Young couldn’t even start for them when he got there. Same with Doug. Went to another storied franchise. Joe Gibbs, Riggo, the Hoags. Young, and Williams didn’t make those teams, they made them. So stop the nonsense that Jameis will have the same success if he leaves as Young, and Williams.

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    • Great Point!! Lol
      There was nothing special about Steve Young remember the LA Express! What a joke. I am sure cookie was just “fanning the flames” there. Haha
      Your right though, Young, Williams, and Winston all have talent but there was nothing special about either of them. They all need pieces around them. Here’s a list of QB’s that I would consider “Special”: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, John Elway, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson. You could just about suit up the entire FIU Freshman class along with a special QB and they’ll beat some of these so-called Defensive Gurus in today’s NFL.

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  34. If Winston has so little situational awareness to ask for top QB lonely, for the same price tag can I interest anyone in a 32 year old Matthew Stanford?

    Yes it would cost us draft picks but let’s be honest, that matters less for us than most teams with Bust Licht make the picks. Nor would BA care with only a year or two left in his career. Imagine what he would think about having a weapon like that instead of the HTM!

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    • @matador: Here’s the problem with giving up draft capital to bring in Matt Stafford. Before Arians and his QB Whispering System showed up here Winston & Stafford’s numbers were almost identical. So let’s say Licht gets crazy and gives up two 2nd rd picks to get Stafford and drops him into Arians boom or bust system. I’m almost certain you can expect the same results or even worse results.

      I have listened to every argument on this site, those for Winston and those against Winston and I been saying this seems like forever that “Winston is Winston”. Some will disagree with this but Jamies Winston is not your Problem. It’s the organizational structure that has been put around him. If you put Winston with the right coach in the right organization we will once again look like the stupidest franchise of all time because Winston has All Pro talent and beyond. Just my two cents worth!

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  35. Re: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman “Being The Worst”.

    I don’t mind Aikman. He occasionally provides a player’s insight into a game. Joe Buck can go piss up a flagpole though. The only thing I can’t stand more than his face is the sound of his voice and his idiotic play by play commentary.

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  36. Not much.new to read here except your shortcomings as a husband that no one really cares or needs to know about. Try a therapist and spare us the boring.details.

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  37. If you’re not sure you want to stay married after living with her and eating her cooking every day for 1,825 days then it’s time to date again. The thing about Winston is that you don’t know whether or not tonight’s dinner is good or burnt. Too many burnt (interceptions and losses) for me….I don’t need a gourmet meal every day, I’m fine with a slice of pizza……but burnt pizza….no way….time for a new chef….Winston can serve burnt food somewhere else…I’m tired of burnt food

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  38. What a surprise…Mark Cook and fsu honk and homer says give Winston another year. FSU pukes are ruining our franchise.

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  39. What are the possibilities of a sign and trade to the Bengals, Dolphins or Chargers all in the AFL for their #1 draft pick?

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