Before Winston was put back in the game for the first time since his three-game suspension, the game against Chicago was pretty much out of reach for the Bucs. That’s why Koetter decided to pull Fitzpatrick and give Winston a few snaps to get used to the speed of the game in the NFL.
“I had no intentions of making a quarterback change… But when we were down 35, five touchdowns at halftime, I thought it was a perfect time to get Jameis in and get him some timing with NFL game speed.” – via Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times (see article HERE)
So how did Winston fare after being absent from the game, and from the team for that matter, for three weeks?
Well, for one thing, he looked calmer than usual and made smart decisions for most of the game. He completed an impressive 80 percent of his passes and did a decent job taking what the defense gave him. Furthermore, he did what he does well, buying time to extend the play and making something out of nothing. On one occasion, he avoided a sack by Khalil Mack and ran for a first down.
In addition to that, his chemistry with Cameron Brate was there from the start; the same goes for Adam Humphries and Mike Evans.
On a negative note, Winston seemed to struggle getting on the same page with DeSean Jackson, which was a huge problem last year. Winston missed Jackson by far on a simple out route without being pressured. Moreover, he simply held on to the ball too long, which caused him to lose lots of fumbles in the long run.
To make matters worse, Winston threw a terrible interception on the Bucs‘ very last offensive play. Again, he was not pressured on this throw and just threw it right in the hands of the Bears‘ defender. The first interception he had was not necessarily Winston’s fault because he was hit on the arm as he threw by Khalil Mack.
Considering the circumstances, it was a decent first performance by Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback. Sunday’s performance in Atlanta should give an indication of where Winston stands with the Buccaneers.