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This should be Bucs’ next turn on the road to nowhere

Jameis Winston (3) talks to teammates during the second half of the Bucs' 16-3 loss to Washington Sunday. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Jameis Winston (3) talks to teammates during the second half of the Bucs' 16-3 loss to Washington Sunday. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Nov. 11, 2018
Updated Nov. 12, 2018

TAMPA — Well, that's about as vintage Bucs as it gets. The Yucks, if you will.

During the game: two interceptions, two fumbles, two missed field goals.

After the game: plenty of shrugs, grim faces and blank looks.

Everything about Tampa Bay's 16-3 loss Sunday to Washington was Bucs circa all the time. All that was missing was John McKay being in favor of the team's execution.

Add it all up and it's another loss to throw on the pile. And though this loss doesn't officially end the season, it pretty much puts the Bucs on the exit ramp to nowhere. Again.

Another season seemingly down the drain. That's why the Bucs need to go back to quarterback Jameis Winston. Like, right this second.

Enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Fitzmagic is over.

This is nothing personal. This is strictly business. Fitz is a good man. A class act. And not a terrible quarterback. If you need him for a game or two, that's fine. But he's not the man to save your season. Or your job, Dirk Koetter.

We've seen this horror movie before. It's called the Curse of Fitzpatrick. It goes something like this:

Team signs Fitzpatrick. Immediately calamity befalls the starting quarterback, either through injury or, in this case, suspension.

So Fitzpatrick goes in and lights it up. Suddenly, he's a star. Everyone in town starts wearing fake beards and singing "Oh, oh, oh it's Fitzmagic" songs of praise.

Then just when you think it's safe to feel good, blamo! The losing starts all over again. Fitzpatrick plays just well enough to get you beat. Like Sunday. He threw the ball up and down the field for 406 yards. But he also threw two awful interceptions and coughed up the ball on a fumble that essentially ended any hope of a comeback.

Is it all Fitz's fault? No. He had plenty of help kicking away the game, starting with kicker Chandler Catanzaro. He missed two field goals that NFL kickers have to make, and if he's still employed by the Bucs by the end of business Tuesday, I'll be stunned.

Then there was a costly, comical fumble by Jacquizz Rodgers, some puzzling play calling by Koetter and a defense that played okay but not nearly as well as you think considering Washington was missing most of its regular offensive line.

So you can't pin the entire loss on Fitzpatrick. And if we're being honest, Winston probably wouldn't have played any better than Fitzpatrick and the Bucs probably wouldn't have won with him, either.

So why go back to Winston?

A couple of reasons. First, if you're going to bench Winston for turning the ball over, then you have to bench Fitzpatrick for doing the same thing. Koetter turned back to Fitzpatrick because the Bucs weren't winning. And they're still not winning with Fitzpatrick. But that's just a small reason.

The big reason you go back to Winston: The Bucs need to make a decision on Winston before next season. If this season is pretty much kaput, then you have get as much information as you can on Winston to figure out if you're going to commit big money to him moving forward.

Besides, you can't tell me that Fitzpatrick gives you any better chance to win than Winston. If there's hardly any difference between the two, then you have to play the guy who might be your future instead of the guy we all know is definitely not your future.

When the present looks this dismal, then all you can do is look to the future. And though Koetter might not be a part of this organization's future, he still has to act in the franchise's best interest.

Koetter wouldn't say after the game who would start next week against the Giants, but you did get the vibe that he is going to go back to Winston. If so, that's the right call. If the Bucs are going to start a quarterback named Ryan in any other game this season, it should be Griffin, not Fitzpatrick.

Sunday was a game the Bucs needed to win. It was a game they were favored to win. It was a game they should have won. But they didn't because they had more turnovers than points. In today's NFL, scoring three measly points at home in perfect weather is downright embarrassing.

Today is not the day to decide whether Koetter and general manager Jason Licht keep their jobs. Besides, the Glazers don't fire head coaches and GMs in the middle of seasons.

But today is the day the Bucs can make some changes.

They can start by naming Winston their starting quarterback again.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.