During the fourth quarter of the final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday night, Jason Licht was asked on air if Jameis Winston was going to be the starter when he returns from his 3-game suspension in Week 4 when the Bucs travel to Chicago to play the Bears. He chose to answer that question as vaguely and politically correct as possible by saying that it was “not a guarantee”. I don’t think that he knew the shitstorm that he was creating when he said what he said. And now that the local Tampa Bay media have blown it out of proportion, it’s a real concern for some Bucs fans.
I understand why he said it. Some fans may not, but I do. He has to take into consideration a number of factors when making this decision starting with the quarterbacks themselves. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick still healthy? Is he playing good? Is the team winning with him? Is the team comfortable sticking with him for another week? And what about Jameis Winston? Is he even ready to go? Is he rusty after not practicing with his teammates for almost 25 days? These are all things that Licht and Koetter need to consider before making their decision.
One thing that could have an impact on this decision is that the Bucs have their bye week right after that Chicago game. It might make sense to keep him out that game since it would give him two weeks of practice before he starts again. After the bye week, the Bucs play four of the next six games on the road including two division games against the Falcons in Week 6 and the Panthers in Week 9. It doesn’t sound like such a bad idea now, does it?
What if Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the team to a victory in New Orleans. What if they beat Philadelphia in the home opener? What if they beat the Steelers on Monday Night Football? What if this team is 3-0 heading into Chicago? What if the offense is really clicking and scoring 30 points a game with Fitz? Should Jameis still start against the Bears? Why should he, right? Ya know, the whole “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” thing? It’s starting to make more sense now, isn’t it?
Look if the team loses two of those first three games, or even all three of them, then this is all a moot point and Jameis Winston will be the starter for Week 4 in Chicago. But what if they’re 2-1 or even 3-0 during his suspension?
But it can’t just be about winning games though. The quarterback play has to be impressive as well. The team could be 3-0, but if Fitz isn’t playing well, then I think Jameis would be the Week 4 starter.
I’m not saying to bench Jameis. In fact I’m expecting a career year from him despite the suspension, especially if he continues playing like he did this preseason (30 of 41, 73% comp, 388 yds, 3 tds, 0 ints, almost 10 yards per attempt, and a 127 QBR). I’m just saying, be smart about this. Jameis is my quarterback. He is this team’s franchise quarterback. He is the undeniable leader of that football team. If he’s ready to play and this team needs him, then it’s a no-brainer. If he’s not ready and this team is okay without him, then they should wait. It’s that simple.
I think the media has made more of this than it actually is, shockingly enough. Whatever sells, right? A lot of them act as if Jason Licht was saying that Winston’s job was in jeopardy or that he was on the trading block or that he would end up as the backup QB on this team. None of that is true. None of that is happening. Period. Licht is just trying to take the logical approach to this unusual situation. That’s all. No more, no less. Don’t read too much into all of this. If I was a betting man, I’d say that Jameis Winston will be under center for the Bucs against the Bears…we’ll just have to wait and see.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!