Ask Gary: Shouldn’t the Bucs play Winston Sunday?

by Gary Shelton on November 17, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

Many were surprised that Coach Koetter did not name Winston as the starting QB this week. The Bucs playoffs chances reside somewhere between slim and none with none being a heavy favorite. So why would Dirk Koetter not play Jameis Winston at this point in the season knowing full well the Bucs need to make a decision on Winston for next year when they will have to pay him $20 million if he remains with the team? Koetter is trying to save his job, I get that. But if he continues to insist on playing Fitzpatrick beyond this week might we see the Glazers decide now is the time to relieve Koetter of his duties and insert an interim coach with instructions to reinstate Winston as the starting QB?

Larry Beller

Larry, I could be wrong -- and I often am -- but I don't sense there is a lot of disagreement at One Buc over their quarterback. That's one of the reasons I think that Dirk Koetter waited a day before he announced that he was sticking with Fitzpatrick. That decision isn't made with one vote (his); it's made after discussing it with Jason Licht, with key members of the team and with the Glazers.

That's one reason I wondered aloud this week if the Glazers had already written Winston off. If you aren't going to pull your backup quarterback for your alleged franchise quarterback after three glaring turnovers, well, when are you going to pull him?

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Of course, the team may feel that Fitzpatrick, after playing with the Jets, knows the winds in that stadium. But you don't name your starting quarterback because of the direction a kite flies.

Now, let's entertain the idea that this was Koetter's decision alone, that he said he was sticking with Fitzpatrick because Fitz has won two games this year and Winston has won only one. Certainly, that could sway arguments in the minds of the Glazers. They've never been big on interim coaches -- remember how embarrassing that Raheem's final 10 games were? -- but it's their rules, and they can change their mind any time they want. But if you do that, you're probably going to go with an offensive coordinator who has never been a head coach in the NFL Right?

If I were the Glazers, I'm not sure how much more Winston could show me -- good or bad -- that I haven't seen before. I would guess that the decision to keep him next year will be based on his body of work. And it's complicated. He's had terrible turnovers. He's thrown for a ton of yardage. He hasn't won enough. He's had off-the-field problems. He's a talented guy on a franchise that has left too many by the garbage dump. It all counts.

I'm with you here, Larry. I would have started Winston this week and for the rest of the season. We all like Fitzpatrick, but the future isn't his.

Is it Winston? A lot of critics have seen enough. Personally, I'd like to see a little more.

The two ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter of the BBWAA included in the 2018 AL Cy Young award balloting were submitted by whom?

Scott Myers

This year, the two Tampa Bay voters were Mark Didtler of the Associated Press and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Yes, the New York Daily News. Bill is a longtime baseball writer who lives locally and still writes for the Daily News. The BBWA named him an at-large voter for Tampa Bay this year.

Both writers voted for Blake Snell first (as did the majority of writers). Didtler voted for Corey Kluber second and Justin Verlander third. Madden voted for Kluber second and Treinen third (Verlander fourth).

If you'll remember, there was a bit of a local snarl in 2016 when Fred Goodall of the AP and Bill Chastain of MLB.com left Verlander off of their ballots. The thing is, both of them turned in their ballots before the end of the season.

I've talked often to Fred about his vote, and he is insistent that Verlander wasn't among the top pitchers on his ballot. If he voted his conscience, I have no problem with it. The funny thing is that Chastain was at a Tampa steakhouse a month or so after the voting, and Kate Upton and Verlander walked in. He didn't say hello. Upton was very upset on Twitter, if you remember.

Snell would have gotten my vote, too. But if someone really believed that Verlander or Kluber was more deserving, well, it's their vote. My old buddy Mike Bernarndino, however, voted for  Verlander, Sale and then Snell, which I don't get.  Jim Ingraham of the Elyria Chronicle voted for Verlander, Kluber and then Snell, which is a mystery to me, too. You can argue that one pitcher had a better year than Snell (I guess), but it's silly to argue that two pitchers did.

What a conundrum the Bucs are in. You can't say they are any better than they were 1,2,3 or more years ago.  What do the Glazer boys need to do to make them a viable team again?

Richard Kinning

They need to hire wisely and, for a change, they need to get lucky.

By now, we all know that the Glazers aren't the Rooneys. They aren't particularly good at hiring folks to run their franchise. That's the kiss of death in this league.  They actually were better at this hiring thing early than they have been lately.

First hire -- Tony Dungy. They got lucky. Dungy was solid, and he got the players to play for him. Derrick Brooks was on the wrong side of the defense, taking on tight ends instead of running to the ball. He convinced Warren Sapp to lose weight. He was slow to recognize John Lynch's impact (he was a linebacker in the nickel early in that first year).  Tony was a builder. He never got the offense right while he was here, but his team was a regular in the playoffs.

Second hire -- Jon Gruden. The Glazers made that blockbuster trade, and it paid off in the first year. Yes, Gruden won with a lot of players who were here, but he climbed higher on the mountain than anyone. He has a burst of energy and a bright mind. But Gruden couldn't handle the attrition of great players leaving. He was a good enough coach to get nine wins, but a bad enough front office worker to get seven losses.

Third hire -- Raheem Morris (with Mark Dominik). A disaster. Morris was hired because he was starting to make the interview circuit. But no one was going to hire him that first. year. General manager  Dominik wasn't gifted, either. (He tried to trade for Jay Cutler and Albert Haynesworth, remember).

Fourth hire -- Greg Schiano. Old Sergeant Rock just cared about too many little things (the shape of the team's pasta) instead of caring about third-and-one. Professional athletes weren't his deal. Chip Kelly wouldn't have been any better.

Fifth hire -- Lovie Smith (with Jason Licht): Smith supposedly spent his year off studying the league. He should have done more homework. His free agents were talentless and overpaid. And he didn't win.

Sixth hire -- Dirk Koetter. The Glazers didn't learn with Morris. Once again, they fell in love with an assistant on their staff (no one else would have given him a head coaching job). Koetter shows that there is a difference in a talented assistant and a head coach.

The Glazers need a solid voice in charge of their franchise. It can be a team president, or it can be a general manager. But if I'm them, I'm talking to people who have done it. I don't want another flavor of the week.

The Bucs are years from contending, but they could be only 2-3 from reaching the playoffs. It's time for the franchise to head in that direction. There have been too many teams who have gone by Tampa Bay on their way to better days. This team? It's as it ever was.

Marty St. Louis was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week.  This would have been a very proud moment for Tampa if Marty did not leave the way he did.  It still was great to see Marty and the current Bolts team there at his induction.  If only he acted with more class in his final days here in Tampa it would have been even better.

Richard Kinning

Richard, I think most of the fans have tried to forget about those final weeks with the Lightning. And it's not for Marty. It's for the sake of their own memories. St. Louis scored big goals, and he provided big moments, and he was a big fan favorite. And the Lightning faithful need those memories.

You and I both lived through that final season when Marty forced his way out of Tampa. We never did get a satisfactory explanation, did we? Was all of this done because Marty was miffed he didn't make the Canadian Olympic team, one that he later did make? So why all the fuss?

When I think of St. Louis, I don't think of those days. I think of the little guy who could, the guy who talked to the mothers of a thousand undersized kids as their inspiration, the kid who never forgave the league for thinking he was too small. To rob ourselves of those memories is just short-sighted.

I'll be honest, Richard. It took me some time get over it, too. But Marty bled enough  for this franchise, and he made fans smile more than anyone.

Good for him that he made the Hall of Fame. And he didn't make it as a member of the Rangers. He made it because of his time in Tampa. He's as much ours as Lee Roy and Warren  and Derrick. Steve Yzerman didn't trade those memories away.

Ever read a great book that had an unsatisfactory ending? That was Marty's career. The overall story was terrific despite the conclusion. Let's enjoy that. Deal?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller November 17, 2018 at 7:50 am

It’s interesting that you think Koetter consulted with everyone about the starting QB decision. I don’t disagree with you but I don’t think that would happen in a lot of places. Koetter would be smart to do that. If he did then it does appear that the Glaziers may feel like Winston is done here. It could be his off the field issues have tipped the scales.

I don’t think we can trust the Glaziers to make the right decision about that anymore than we can think they will make the right decision on the next coach and GM. Koetter isn’t the only one who doesn’t have THE answer to turn this franchise around. The Bucs are a mess and show no signs of getting better. As I’ve said many times the dysfunction with this team starts with ownership.

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Gary Shelton November 17, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Well, I agree with you many times. It always starts at the top. As dynamic as Belichick and Brady are, it begins with Kraft setting a tone. Pittsburgh. Most of the good teams (strangely, not so much with the Saints, but then, they’ve won only one title).

I think most coaches get a working consensus. Those guys own the team, and they hire and fire. The general manager is in charge of tomorrow. So what’s the down side to seeing which way the wind is blowing on your quarterback. It certainly affects everyone. Now, Koetter may make the final decision, but it isn’t as if he’s choosing between Brady and Montana here

Say you put Winston in and he’s terrific. Do you definitely bring him back? Well, you think about it.

Say you put Winston in and he’s awful. Do you defenitely blow him up? Well, you think about it.

I imagine you and I would agree that the probable outcome is that Winston is erratic, that he has some keeper moments and some stinker moments. That’s his history. I’ve written it a lot. At his age, frozen in time, a lot of quarterbacks were erractic and got better. That doesn’t mean it will happen with Winston. I just think it’s time to see more evidence.

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