Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Welcome back, Jameis Winston. Seems like old times

TAMPA — It's who he is.

You don't get that by now, four seasons in?

He could have won the game for his team. He could have lost the game for his team.

It's who he is.

Sunday, in his first home start since coming off suspension, Jameis Winston was all he can be and all he can't be. The man is a three-ring circus, and that's just on he field.

When Chandler Catanzaro's 59-yard overtime field beat the Cleveland Browns 26-23, ending the unwatchable Game That Would Not Die, Winston was a winner in his first home game as a starter this season, an "immaculate win," as he described it.

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Easy there, big guy.

Another mixed bag of a Sunday.

Take your pick.

Winston can't be trusted with the Bucs' future. He had the interceptions and fumble Sunday to prove it. It took the longest overtime kick in NFL history to bail him out.

Winston can be trusted with the Bucs' future. Those 365 passing yards Sunday said so, as did him being his team's leading rusher, 55 yards, including a dashing, diving touchdown.  Whenever he ran, it was exciting.

No, Winston can't be trusted, like on that sack he took in overtime when the Bucs were already in field-goal position. It was appalling.

"I'm not sure exactly what happened, but there's no excuse for that," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "We were already in field-goal range. You cannot take a sack there."

Yes, Winston can be trusted, because a few plays after that sack, he Winston found DeSean Jackson for 11 yards to Cleveland's 41 to set up their kicker's goat-to-hero moment.

It was quite the day for No. 3. It doesn't add up to the starting job after this season or the money that goes with it.

In a lot of ways, it will never add up, or at least be capable of being added up, because there will always be subtraction — when it comes to Winston, even if you just stick to on-field performance.

It's who Winston is, four seasons into his NFL career.

Even on a day when the Bucs defense rallied from the grave, there was a chance that Winston could put this game six feet under.

It's who he is.

The Bucs are 3-3 and the Bucs quarterback is both good and bad. Sunday's win was just Winston's second in his last 12 starts, dating back to 2017. Winston is 19-28 as a starter in his career.

Bucs-Browns was the movable object against the resistible force. Something had to give. If you want to make that into a new beginning for Winston, go ahead. I'll be the first one to say I'm wrong if that happens.

It just doesn't feel like it will. It feels like it will always be this way, the good and the bad. I think Winston will have a long NFL career. But it might not be a great one, and it might not be here.

Yes, there was good Sunday, there was Winston leading the way.

"They played a lot of two deep man, and when the opportunity is there, I've got to make a play for the team," he said. "It was there so we executed it."

And there was bad, like those picks, thrown for Bucs who were never open. Cleveland should have won this game after Winston's overtime interception.

"The main thing, like I always say, you've got to take care of the football, got to give our team a chance to win," Winston said. "We won, so I think I did a good enough job in that aspect. But bottom line, I've just got to get better."

But he did make that one play after that sack — the money play.

"I had two costly picks, but when the play mattered, me and DeSean Jackson hooked up to put us in field-goal range for an immaculate win by Chandler," Winston said. "It was great. We've got to get better at all phases, but at the same time, a win is a win and you've got to love it."

The win, if not the quarterback.

It will always be that way.

It's who he is.

Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029

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