This game left us with more questions than answers. The fact that Jameis Winston is apparently not the long term answer at QB for the Bucs is now beyond doubt; after being benched in the 3rd quarter. The writing should at least be on the wall for Winston, suspension for breaking the leagues personal conduct policy, his picture removed from the stadium. The C removed from his jersey after teammates didn’t vote him captain.
The likelihood is now that the 5th year option on Winston’s contract won’t be picked up and the team will let him walk. Worryingly Tampa Bay has never resigned a QB they have drafted and that trend should continue with number 3.
With Jameis unable to find his own receivers leading to multiple turnovers against the Bengals a defeat was always the only possible result. The new and improved Bucs Defense played lights out considering what was being asked of them. They would get the ball back time after time, only for Winston to give it straight back to Cincinnati lead to the defense being exhausted before the first half. That said the defense was much improved for a second straight game after the dismissal of Mike Smith.
How this game didn’t turn into a record score line is a testament to the improved performance from that unit. All signs point to this defense being a top ten unit if the offense can perform. Without Winston the offense was leading the league. With Winston they can’t stay on the field to keep up with the time of possession gifted to the opposing teams by Jameis’ turnovers.
With the draft still a long way off there is plenty of time to look ahead and evaluate potential replacements for Winston.
The 2nd half was even more frustrating than the first as every time the offense lost momentum and an gassed defense stumbled back onto the field. Winston has said he wants to be the leader of this team. I want to be a billionaire. Just wanting something doesn’t mean it will happen and Jameis has to accept that he has neither the talent or mental ability to be an NFL QB let alone a “franchise QB.”
Possibly the most frustrating thing about the loss in Cincinnati was that it was clear to see that this team has talent. Talent which is being held back by a few key cogs not performing. This COULD be a winning team and a very good winning team. All we need is a new QB, Kicker and CB. When Fitzpatrick entered the game the offense found a new life as passes started to find the target. The Defense suddenly had a spark as they weren’t asked to rush back into the field as soon as leaving it. A 4th quarter rally lead by Fitzpatrick showed the potential of this team. With Fitzmagic leading the charge the team was coordinated and confident. Two things it wasn’t with Jameis under center. The last second loss to a FG was heartbreaking but deserved after being undisciplined on both offense and defense. Penalties were a factor in the loss but they aren’t the reason. Defense might win championships but you cannot win anything without an offense.
Fitz isn’t the long term answer to lead the team and Jameis needs to be cut so that he doesn’t provide a distraction. A team that once had an embarrassment of riches now has to start looking for a long term answer at the most important position on offense. The long term issue of kicker needs to be solved and the defense needs an identity.