The job riding on Jameis Winston's performance

Published Dec. 4, 2017

Jameis Winston didn't offer a pep talk for his teammates before Sunday's game at Green Bay. That or TV didn't show it.

A good call either way.

Winston is back at work.

But can he save Dirk Koetter's job?

It is a perfectly reasonable question at this losing season lurches to its conclusion. Koetter's future rests in Jameis Winston's hands — yes, the same hands that turned that fumble Sunday it into a Lambeau Leap.

The Glazers are in mysterious mode. The Bucs owners are big believers that it's how you finish. See Morris, Raheem, or Schiano, Gregory, or Smith, Lovie.

How Winston finishes matters. It might be the difference between Koetter getting a third season in Tampa Bay or hopping in interview lines with a losing record at last count.

Make Jameis better. That's why the Glazers hired Koetter. He was the quarterback whisperer in Lovie Smith's final season, and he was so good at it he made Smith expendable. Koetter was the guy to get the most of Winston, tender-loving care, tough love, all that. It was a Belichick-Brady sort of arrangement.

Now it's Belichick or bust. Koetter is a 13-15 head coach with a quarterback who can't decide whether he is lost or found. The off-field stuff has not helped Winston. Could it save Koetter? Could Winston's injury's save Koetter? Could Koetter bring in another QB, through free agency or the draft — real competition for Winston and start all over?

With who?

Jon Gruden?

Isn't Jim Harbaugh in town Thursday for the Outback Bowl contract signing?

Koetter showed patience as Winston returned Sunday. There was some good and there was some bad. Winston seemed to be settling in when … he lost that fumble that was returned for a Lambeau Leap.

Koetter looked like he could have re-eaten his breakfast. It's enough to make a guy phone Tennessee about the opening.

But Koetter was there for his quarterback, during and after the game.

No matter. Winston might be a puzzle Koetter can't solve.

It's up to the Glazers whether Koetter gets to reconstruct Winston or not.

Is Jameis better than he was before last season?

I don't think he is.

He needs a few wins.

Careful, Jameis.

That job you're holding in your hands might not be your own.

Contact Martin Fennelly at or (813) 731-8029