It’s a shell game at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick sharing time at QB. Not that they planned it, not that they intended it that way, and not that the Bucs have found success with either man behind center.
Oh, Tampa Bay is .500 after four games, leaving the door open for success or failure with 12 more games to be played. Hey, it’s par for the course so far. The downside being that last two games were losses. Sunday’s was a Chicago Bears blowout of Los Buccaneers, 48-10. One of the leading headlines Monday afternoon on TampaBay.com read that Jameis Winston will return to the role of starting quarterback full-time for the rest of the season and possibly longer. All by way of a loss and Fitzpatrick not solving every issue during play.
That does not, in any fashion, cure what ails the Buccaneers. Not remotely and offense-first hype from the Times (and from fans) is part of the failings.
Take a step back, that last final score: Forty-eight points allowed. 4 – 8. 35 came in the first half. While the Bucs offense can be faulted for generating 3 turnovers and only passable productivity (311 yards, 16 first downs) they still controlled the ball for more than half the time-of-play for the game (31:54). Of those turnovers, none were directly converted into scores, which puts pressure on the Tampa Bay defense to actually thwart the Bears efforts to score.
Which they didn’t. Not nearly.
Twenty-eight 1st downs, 483 yards produced. All in a flying-offensive spectacle that the Tampa Bay Times was expecting form the Bucs outright this season. While the Tampa Bay offense was not dropping bombs and being a wunderkind of the scoring variety, it was on the defense where things failed. The job was to stop Chicago. They didn’t. End story with a big L and an offensive-minded solution that doesn’t stop the problem.
It’s tradition with the Buccaneer franchise and the media in the Tampa Bay metro region to make things an offense-first issue and employ a quarterback-will-do-it-all mentality. What contradicts this (and contradicts the fan opinion that clings to that philosophy) is success in team history hasn’t been by way of a quarterback-first effort as-so-much a well-rounded team effort. No, the effort wasn’t made possible by the quarterback. The QB did the job in ultimate success or came up just short in heartbreaking disappointment.
- Brad Johnson was not presented as a solve-it-all skilled leader when he was the man behind center during what ultimately became the Bucs super bowl winning season of 2002. He was a cherry on top but was not the entire helping of desert.
- Shaun King in 1999, passed muster as the Bucs quarterback but did not take the team to the upper echelon. He came up just shy in the Bucs loss to the St. Louis Rams at TWA Dome in St. Louis in the NFC Championship game. Was the loss all on him? Hell no… But the stereotype that too often gets pushed in the sport made him out to be a pariah and therefore worthless.
So now it’s on Winston to take the Bucs to the next level and that has been the mentality for how long now? Never mind the fact the man has issues off-field, if and when the Buccaneer offense goes to the upper gear, things will be all right, fine and good and … and… And…
And the bullshit meter has detected a pile. It’s the same pile of bullshit that’s been found time and again. It was once labeled “Testaverde”, later it was labeled “Dilfer” and “Freeman”. It’s had previous labels, it’s had other labels in recent years, but ultimately they all amounted to the same pile of fecal hype: Quarterbacks that would do it all and solve issues that lay on both sides of the game. Those piles were created in part by mismanagement of the club and coverage of the club by Tampa Bay sports media.
In the end, Tampa Bay is a mess and expecting a mess of a man to solve ills furthers the problem. The Bucs need to be rebuilt, and that doesn’t start at quarterback. Hell, it doesn’t start with a high draft pick… it would take a management and ownership therapist to start to remind people in charge that team play isn’t a singular-athlete affair. Nor is it an offense affair alone.