Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has had an up-and-down season so far. Now in year five, this should be the time where he should be showing evidence that he's growing in the offense, but his success has varied from week to week. For example, in Week 4, Winston threw for 385 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in the 55-40 win the Buccaneers registered over the Los Angeles Rams. It appeared to be a breakout for Tampa Bay and the team in general. The offense was effective, the defense stifling. The narrative changed fast just one week later.
The Buccaneers then lost to the New Orleans Saints and backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who clearly out-dueled Winston. Then came the embarrassing 37-26 loss to the Carolina Panthers in London, where Winston threw five interceptions and fumbled twice.
Arians still has faith in Winston, and recently spoke about the issue he's trying to correct with his franchise quarterback.
"It's knowing why the ball is coming out of your hand and knowing when to get rid of it," Arians told WFLA-TV, according to JoeBucsFan.com. "You know, we had a screen pass to [Ronald Jones in England] that broke down; throw it away, alright. We end up getting a fumble; we didn't lose that fumble. The next one, [Jameis is thinking] I have to make a play. Those situations we have to get rid of the bad decisions of when 'I have to make a play,' and you hold on too long and get a sack or a fumble. Just get rid of those plays, we're going to be alright."
Arians echoed a similar sentiment when speaking on Winston earlier this month. Following the Buccaneers' win over the Rams, Arians praised Winston for playing fearlessly.
"You have to play fearless, and that's one of my biggest messages to Jameis," Arians said. "Throw it. Don't worry about it, just throw it."
Figuring out when to take chances and when to go to your next option is sometimes a tough thing for a 25-yard-old quarterback to handle. It's interesting that the Buccaneers next play the Tennessee Titans this week, who recently benched quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was drafted the pick after Winston in the 2015 NFL Draft because he was dealing with similar issues.
Mariota is tied with Winston this year when it comes to taking the most sacks. Both have struggled when it came to making difficult throws and holding onto the ball too long.
The Titans immediately found success when they inserted Ryan Tannehill into the starting lineup, who threw for 312 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Mariota hasn't thrown for 312 yards in a single game in over a year, and the wide receivers benefitted from the change under center as well.
The Buccaneers clearly have more faith in Winston than the Titans did in Mariota, but it's interesting that this showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2015 draft is not what we thought it may be when these quarterbacks entered the NFL.
Tennessee felt more comfortable in making this change at quarterback since Tannehill had years of experience as a starter with the Miami Dolphins. He's clearly a better quarterback than Buccaneers backup Ryan Griffin. It makes you wonder, however, if Arians still considers Winston the future of the franchise, and if he's going to earn an extension in the near future.