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Debunking some theories about why the Bucs are keeping Jameis Winston on the shelf

 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is seen on the bench during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is seen on the bench during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Published Nov. 21, 2017

TAMPA — The Bucs are sticking with Ryan Two and Oh Fitzpatrick at quarterback for Sunday's game in Atlanta.

But this isn't a case of just riding the guy who has the cool head and hot hand.

Doctors would not clear starter Jameis Winston to begin throwing after an evaluation of his shoulder injury Monday, and he will miss at least one more game.

"The medical staff evaluated Jameis sometime earlier (Monday), and they determined that he's not ready to resume throwing yet, so Jameis will be out this week and re-evaluated next Monday," coach Dirk Koetter said.

The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, who struggled in his first Bucs start in the a 15-10 win over the New York Jets, played better against Miami on Sunday. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 30-20 win.

"Ryan has done exactly what I thought he would do, but I can understand why other people who haven't seen him practice would not necessarily expect that," Koetter said.

Winston had lost all four games after suffering his injury in Week 6 at Arizona. The Bucs have said they don't want him to return until he is completely healthy.

However, there have been alternative theories surrounding the Bucs' decision to keep Winston on the shelf. Let's attempt to dispel a few.

THE BUCS ARE ON A WIN STREAK, SO WHY BREAK THE MOJO?

Tampa Bay has its first win streak in nearly a calendar year. Fitzpatrick has been a huge part of that. He has brought calm and consistency to Koetter's offense. He has made quicker decisions and done a fair job of limiting turnovers.

With Fitzpatrick, the Bucs don't get the extended plays and as many explosive downfield passes. But they also don't get as many negative plays that can doom an offense.

"We say every week in our meetings, if we don't turn it over, we got a great chance to win," Koetter said. "So it starts with that. And he throws. Sixty percent completion, but then you factor out a couple of drops.

"I think he had four throwaways, and no matter how much of a veteran quarterback you are, throwing the ball away when the play is not there, it's still to this day one of the hardest things to get a quarterback to do."

The Jets and Dolphins are both 4-6 and combined to lose five in a row. The Falcons are a huge leap in class. Winston is 2-0 at Atlanta, though this will be the Bucs' first game in the Falcons' new stadium.

Koetter would be crazy not to play Winston against the Falcons if he were healthy because he still gives them the best chance to win.

THE BUCS PLAN TO PUT HIM ON INJURED RESERVE BECAUSE THE SEASON IS LOST.

Sounds reasonable, except the Dec. 3 game at Green Bay isn't as daunting with quarterback Aaron Rodgers out with a broken collarbone. Win at Atlanta and Green Bay and you're 6-6 with a four-game win streak. Tampa Bay would be on the board as an NFC wild-card contender.

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The Bucs have six teams ahead of them in the wild-card standings, but they also face four of them before the season ends.

Besides, it's important that Winston finish the season strong if he is healthy. He has made 40 starts in his career, and the more chances to play with this group of receivers, the better he will be.

THE INVESTIGATION.

Winston is under investigation by the NFL for an allegation he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016. But the Bucs are not rushing to judgment.

Winston has produced a witness — albeit a familiar one, in Eagles cornerback and former FSU teammate Ronald Darby — to help him deny the allegation.

Who knows what the outcome of the investigation will be? But in the meantime, Winston needs to gain as much experience as he can.