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Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Titans’ Marcus Mariota crashing at same time

The former 1-2 draft picks are draft-bust brothers.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, seen running runs onto the field before the team's game against the Panthers in London, may be running out of time with Tampa Bay. [TIM IRELAND | AP]
Published Oct. 22
Updated Oct. 22

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, together again.

All they are is dust in the wind.

Yes, it’s Bust Bowl Week.

It’s Bucs at Titans, time to take a trip down memory sewer and give it the old 1-2, or it is the old 2-1? Or what were Tampa Bay and Tennessee thinking when they fought for a franchise quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft?

The Bucs, then under Lovie Smith, went so far as to tank to get their man, though they were so bad to begin with, we could hardly tell. But they landed a No. 1 and chose Winston, a Heisman winner and national champion out of Florida State.

Couldn’t miss.

Tennessee quickly pounced on No. 2: Mariota, a Heisman winner out of Oregon.

Couldn’t miss.

But they have, both of them, missed as badly as can’t misses can, so badly that they are simultaneously disintegrating, to the point where Mariota won’t even start Sunday, having been benched for Ryan Tannehill.

We might be looking at the greatest 1-2 combined QB bust in draft history. Yes, history.

Who can forget Sept. 13, 2015, when Winston and Mariota made their NFL debuts against each other. Mariota threw four touchdowns as Tennessee routed Tampa Bay. On his first NFL pass, Winston threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) watches from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) [JAMES KENNEY | AP]

But Mariota has caught up, or down. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore who the Bucs or Titans took. They both would have been wrong. That Winston and Mariota went 1 and 2 at all seems the joke. Their careers speak to down-the-board talent. Each is at a crossroads, each in the team-option year of their contracts. And it seems like it’s time for each man to hit the road.

Winston is coming off five interceptions and six turnovers in London. On the same day, Mariota got the hook after he went just 7-of-18 for 63 yards and two interceptions in a shutout loss to Denver.

The worst 1-2 QB bust. Ever.

Winston is 23-37 as a starter. Mariota is 29-32. Mariota has won a playoff game. Winston hasn’t been in a postseason.

That takes in a lot of ground. There have been any number of NFL drafts that have included no quarterback taken in the first round. And how do you call this a worse first-round bust than 2007, when JaMarcus “Point me to the bakery” Russell went No. 1 and Brady Quinn went NO. 22 to Cleveland.

But this 1-2 bust beats the others. Seven other times in the Super Bowl era have QBs gone 2-1 in a draft.

This is the worst.

There was 2016, the year after Winston and Mariota, when Jared Goff went No. 1 to the Rams and Carson Wentz went No. 2 to the eagles. So far, so good.

There was 2012, Andrew Luck at No. 1 and Robert Griffin III at 2. Griffin flamed out from injuries and Luck’s elite career was done in by them too, but he’s no bust.

1999 shows promised. Tim Couch was el-busto at No. 1. But No. 2 was Donovan McNabb, who had a near Hall-of-Fame career.

In 1998, Ryan Leaf was an atrocity at No. 2 It was left to No. 1 to save the honor of that class. Guy did okay too. I think his name was Peyton Manning.

In 1993, Drew Bledsoe was taken first and enjoyed a successful NFL career. Rick Mirer? Not so much after being taken second.

And there was 1971, when Jim Plunkett went first, Archie Manning went second. Two very good NFL careers.

So, you see, there is always someone who turns out good enough in the old 1-2 mix. Until now. Winston and Mariota are both still having growing pains that they should have grown out of by now. They’ve had more than enough chances.

You know, Amari Cooper went fourth in that draft. Todd Gurley went 10th. I’m just saying.

You can’t blame the Bucs and Titans for having needed a quarterback in 2015.

That they still need one is the real story.

All they are is dust in the wind.

Make way for the Bust Bowl.

Contact Martin Fennelly at or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.


  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) enters the field at Raymond James Stadium before the game between the Tampa Bay Bucanneers and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Saints 13, Bucs 0: Drew Brees capitalizes on another early Bucs turnover.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a pass reception in Cardinals territory during the first quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Encina’s Early Read: Bucs made adjustments since last New Orleans game, and it’s led to some big receiving days for Mike Evans.
  3. Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick participates in a workout for NFL football scouts and media, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Riverdale, Ga. TODD KIRKLAND  |  AP
    The Bucs aren’t among the teams reported to have attended after a late venue change as the QB and NFL trade accusations.
  4. Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans could soon reach an NFL milestone that only Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss has attained. It could happen Sunday against the Saints. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rick Stroud The Bucs receiver could join his idol by eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards for the sixth straight year
  5. Since he entered the NFL in 2012, no one has made more solo tackles than Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Romano | He has been a tackling savant for eight years, but the Bucs’ constant losing has meant David has never gotten the credit he deserves here and elsewhere.
  6. In his wins, Jameis Winston has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2.3. In his losses, he has a ratio of 1.2. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay has won in only 24 of his starts. Here are the defining characteristics of those wins. (Hint: Winston plays better, but even that’s not enough.)
  7. Bucs receiver Mike Evans (left) has averaged only 3.4 catches and 30.1 yards in five games against Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (right). Evans was held without a catch when last they met in New Orleans on Oct. 6, but Lattimore is out for the Saints' 1 p.m. game against the Bucs Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay-New Orleans predictions: Here’s the Tampa Bay Times staff picks.
  8. Fans turn out for the season opener of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019 in Tampa.  MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Two teams are keeping the Bucs out of the NFL’s attendance basement. One is winless and the other plays in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium.
  9. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has had plenty to say to NFL officials this season. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Rick Stroud: The Bucs coach has a colorful — we mean blue — way of getting his point across to NFL officials
  10. Former Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib, shown in this 2010 file photo, had his own Myles Garrett-type, helmet-swinging incident in a 2009 Bucs practice. ZUPPA, CHRIS  |  St. Petersburg Times
    A volatile defense back took out a teammate bystander in 2009 during a helmet-swinging altercation in practice.