Jameis Winston’s elite potential is being dwarfed by the sobering reality that he was never meant to be the franchise quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was the opinion in Week 16 after he threw four interceptions in a 23-20 loss to the Houston Texans.
Come back next week and that opinion is sure to shift to the opposite end of the spectrum (like always).
Winston is officially the most frustrating quarterback of the last decade. Has there ever been a more hot-and-cold player behind center?
There are legit moments that showcase a burgeoning elite talent with the ability to drag the Buccaneers out of the endless slog of mediocrity. For a moment, at the very least, Tampa Bay fans feel like they have their guy, and the front office doesn’t feel like a colossal failure for taking him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Those gaudy 400-plus yard performances like he put up in Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts—minus the three interceptions—is the sort of delectable eye candy that makes you question if you’re watching Winston or Patrick Mahomes.
And then that high is quickly snuffed out by another interception. And then another interception. Then another interception.
You get the picture.
If not for the interceptions thrown against the Texans, the Buccaneers likely would have gone on to win their fifth consecutive game. The fact that the Texans are legitimate playoff contenders would have strengthened Winston’s argument for a long-term extension from the Buccaneers. Yet, his future remains in limbo on an expiring deal with one week left in the regular season.
Some have suggested the Buccaneers accept their draft selection as a failure and close the chapter on the Winston story. They have patiently remained seated on the Winston rollercoaster for five NFL seasons and never really had to reach for the barf bag until now. Things are shakier than they’ve ever been now that Winston is clearly flashing elite potential.
He leads the league with 4,908 passing yards and comes in second with 31 touchdowns this season. Those are numbers that might have made him an MVP consideration. If only that pristine statistical picture wasn’t being photobombed by the 28 interceptions.
Winston has thrown more interceptions than Mahomes has touchdown passes this season.
“My primary focus is going into a football game and having a turnover-free football game,” Winston said after the loss, via ESPN.com. “That’s my primary focus. When I do that, I’m going to be a great quarterback.”
That last line is more than enough reason for the Buccaneers to slap Winston with the franchise tag and see what happens in 2020. If not for the numerous interceptions, an argument could easily be made that the Buccaneers would have been playoff contenders this season. Winston, 25, is finally putting the pieces together and could be ascending as a talent.
The Buccaneers would need a second barf bag if another team came along and smoothed out the bumpy rollercoaster. A mere question of whether Winston is man or superman comes with a potential franchise-altering answer that could haunt or help the team for years to come.