Not all former Bucs’ quarterbacks soar

by Gary Shelton on April 28, 2020

in general

Can Winston rebuild his career?/JOE MESTAS

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

If you are a longtime fan of the Tampa Bay Bucs, right about now, you probably want to call the engravers.

Remind them that the "e" comes before the "I" in "Jameis Winston.

Yeah, the Bucs have a lousy history of watching their former quarterbacks celebrate. And now that Winston is Saintly, it is fair to wonder if it will happen again. Will Doug Williams be followed by Steve Young, Trent Dilfer, Vinny Testaverde, Chris Chandler and now Winston?

Will another team find gold in the Bucs' garbage?

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Hey, it could happen. The Saints are good, and coach Sean Payton is excellent, and the team has flirted with the playoffs for three straight seasons.

But make no mistake. This isn't a step forward for Winston; this is a step back. He is the Saints' third-string quarterback; they just signed starter Drew Brees to an extension and backup Tayson Hill to a two-year extension. Winston figures to start only if mass injuries hit New Orleans.

Still, it's a good move for Winston. He'll get to study Brees, one of the most accurate passers in the NFL He'll get a fresh start in a different locker room.

Yeah, yeah. But will he win a Super Bowl?

It's unlikely. The Saints haven't won one with Brees for a long time. It's hard to picture him in the confetti.

Besides, not every former Bucs' quarterback stars.

Yeah, yeah. Say all you want about Steve Young, who won only three games with the Bucs (and 91 for the 49ers) on his way to the Hall of Fame. We've talked about Williams, who got hot for the Redskins in the 1987 post-season. Dilfer came off the bench to do just enough for the Ravens to win behind a great defense. Chandler, who never won a start for the Bucs, won 14 for the Falcons in 1998 and lost the Super Bowl. Testaverde made it to the AFC title game in 1998.

Results like that can shame a franchise.

But the Bucs have had a slew of former quarterbacks who haven't succeeded.

Steve Spurrier, the team's starting quarterback in 1976, never played for another team. Gary Huff, who started the most games the next season, never started again (he appeared in six games for the Bucs in 1979). Jack Thompson was done after his trial with the Bucs.

Steve DeBerg had a nice run with the Chiefs after the first time the Bucs cut him, but the Chiefs couldn't get over the hump in those years. Craig Erickson won just three starts after leaving. Shaun King lost his only two starts after his Bucs' career.

Brad Johnson, who won the Super Bowl for the Bucs, won 14 games after the Bucs tired of him. Chris Simms didn't win another game. Bruce Gradkowki won three times in five years.

Jeff Garcia played backup for the Eagles, but didn't win a game. Either did Byron Leftwich didn't win a game in two years with Pittsburgh. Josh Freeman won once.

Mike Glennon won once. Luke McCown won six times. Ryan Fitzpatrick won five times for Miami a year ago.

The quarterbacks for the Bucs who have succeeded have done so with the right circumstances and with solid coaching. Young had Bill Walsh; Dilfer had Brian Billick. Testaverde had Bill Parcells. and Chandler had Dan Reeves.

Winston's circumstances will be good. But how much of a chance does he have to be active on Sundays?

We'll see.

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