True or false: Jameis Winston has turned the corner in his evolution as a franchise quarterback. The Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team tackles the question as the Bucs prepare for their 4:25 p.m .game Sunday in San Diego:
Rebounding from a rough start
Greg Auman, @gregauman: Of course, Jameis Winston has turned a corner. He's established himself as a core team leader in his second season, limited his mistakes after a rough start and built a strong connection with Mike Evans. His next step? Getting the Bucs back into the playoffs. He faces tough odds to pull that off in the next month, but should have the Bucs improved enough to have every expectation of a playoff appearance in 2017.
Still, beware of the head-scratcher
Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: True. Winston is on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback, but the next step, as Greg noted, is taking the Bucs to the playoffs. Without a doubt, he is a leader, and not because of his fiery pregame or postgame speeches. When he talks up his teammates, it's not just words. In the locker room after Sunday's win, he approached each lineman and expressed genuine appreciation.
Winston's performance during the first two drives against the Seahawks was nearly flawless, but you might always have to watch for the occasional head-scratching throw, like the interception he threw into double coverage in the fourth quarter. While his touchdown rate has increased this season (from 4.1 percent to 5.4), his interception rate is about the same (from 2.8 to 2.7).
Yes, thanks to protection
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: He still makes some helter-skelter plays, which look great when you make them once, but you can't repeat them against good teams. The biggest thing is the Bucs are taking some pressure off Winston. At present, he doesn't have to put the team on his back, and the defense is giving him some turnovers, field position, and he's not playing from behind. He looks panicky when he gets behind and tries to force things. That's when it gets ugly. Otherwise, things look beautiful. The Bucs have their guy for years to come.
More money plays
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: False. Much like one of his patented mad-dash scrambles, Jameis Winston has ambled further down the NFL stardom road, but he hasn't turned the corner. Winston needs to play with greater consistency for an entire season and he needs to make some money plays in clutch situations — instead of throwing an interception into the end zone as he did against Seattle, or stalling out as he did in the back-half of the Oakland game. The good news? He eventually will turn the corner and deliver the Bucs to the playoffs, if not this season than next.
Follow the leader
Tom Jones, @tomwjones: True. Now, is he all the way there? No. There are still bouts of inconsistency. He has still has some growing to do, but hey, the guy has only played 27 NFL games. But where Winston has been especially impressive is in his leadership. His letter to the team prior to the Chiefs game, as well as a work ethic that everyone at One Buc Place swears by, shows his dedication to the Bucs. Having the confidence to take the reigns of the team, while backing up his words with his on-field play is what separates franchise quarterbacks from pedestrian ones. Winston is not fully developed, but his future looks special.
Scratching the surface
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: True. Although he has merely scratched the surface. Winston has 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions in his last seven games. But when Koetter improved the pass protection, using receivers, tight ends and running backs to chip block on edge rushers to help the tackles, it's given Winston a cleaner pocket and more confidence to step into throws.