The Winston-Mariota discussion surfaces again

by Gary Shelton on August 16, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston and Mariota will alwaYs be compared./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston and Mariota will alwaYs be compared./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

Once again, they shared a field.

Magic and Bird. Chamberlain and Russell. Borg and McEnroe. Navratilova and Evert.

Winston and Mariota.

No, neither of them are on the level of the immortals. But as far as a natural rival, as far as the name of one guy making you think of the other, they share the breath. Both won a Heisman. They went 1-2 in the NFL draft. And since then, fans have argued.

Mariota?

Or Winston?

Probably, it depends on what colors you root for.

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Mariota won a playoff game last season./JEFFREY S. KING

Mariota won a playoff game last season./JEFFREY S. KING

After three seasons, Mariota has won more games (20-18, although both have losing records). Mariota's quarterback rating is a shade higher (89.6-87.2). Mariota has more fourth quarter comebacks (7-5).

On the other hand, Winston plays in a tougher division. He has more attempts, more completions and more yardage. He's thrown for more touchdowns but with more interceptions.

So who's going to have the better career?

Frankly, Mariota probably gets more credit than Winston these days. Mariota won a playoff game last year. Winston has been suspended by the league for the first three games, and Mariota has been clean. It's the reason some fans preferred Mariota to begin with.

But the scouts thought Winston had the better arm and the higher ceiling.

Some athletes are paired together for their entire careers. Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf had little in common but going 1-2 in the draft, but you didn't hear of one without the other. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. You get the picture.

The athletes themselves? They barely acknowledge the other.

"I just know he’s a great guy and I just love seeing him out here competing,” Winston said after the teams shared Wednesday's practice.

Koetter evaded the question, too.

"I'm not a good person to ask that, because I coach Jameis and I rarely get a chance to watch Marcus," Koetter said. "We know where Jameis is at, you've documented that many times. I can't compare the two because I rarely get to watch Marcus."

Are the Bucs happy with Winston?

"Absolutely," Koetter said. "Yeah, absolutely."

The quarterbacks were separated by two fields.

“It was separate, so I didn't really get a chance to go see him,” Mariota said to the team's website. “Being able to have that opportunity again to compete against another team is always good.

“No matter what, I thought both of us wherever we went, we're going to have an opportunity to play, and it's always kind of interesting our paths cross again. It is good to see him, and hopefully we'll just continue to find ways to get better and look back on it and just kind of laugh about it."

In the end, the quarterbacks won't be judged by the nine games Mariota won last year or the nine Winston won the year before. It will take a deep playoff run before either can justify their draft status.

Who gets there first?

Isn't that why they play the games?

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