Bucs have had their share of disappointments

by Gary Shelton on May 14, 2020

in general

Winston won't be remembered fondly./CARMEN MANDATO

Was Jameis Winston a bust?

He threw a lot of interceptions. He fumbled a lot. He lost too often. He could be such a comedy of errors that the Bucs washed their hands of him.

But was he a bust? Was he in the grand measure another Jamarcus Russell or Andre Ware? Was he as big of a letdown as Booker Reese or Brian Bosworth?

After all, he led the league in passing yardage. He threw for 121 touchdown passes in 72 games. Most days, he was the Bucs' best chance of winning.

So when you are listing the great busts of the NFL, is Winston one of them?





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Oh, no doubt, he was a disappointment. There is no escaping that. But the hard thing with Winston was always to measure his good moments against his bad, and figure out how much of the problem was the defense, or the running game, or the offensive line.

A lot of it, of course, depends on your definition of the word "bust." If that means he was of less value than his draft position, then, yes, Winston was a bust. Any quarterback who doesn't reach his second contract is. But if it means he was a total waste, without any redeeming qualities, then perhaps not. Winston could do some things; in the end, no one could justify paying that much money for a guy who made that many mistakes.

The former Bucs' lineman Keith McCants used to call me all the time to debate whether he was the bust that I had written that he was. I would try to tell him, gently, that a high draft pick who starts only 35 games for the team that drafted him was, indeed a bust. If the team couldn't wait to get rid of him, he's a bust.

But there is indeed a gray area.

Was Trent Dilfer a bust? He made a Pro Bowl for the Bucs, and he won a Super Bowl for the Ravens.

Was Bo Jackson a bust? He didn't sign here, but elsewhere, he became one of the most notable athletes of his time.

Was Vinny Testaverde a bust? He was horrible here, but he lasted 20 years in the NFL and reached an AFC title game.

Was Josh Freeman a bust? He ended up that way, but he had a season in which he threw for 25 touchdowns with only six interceptions.

Oh, the Bucs should know a bust when they see him. They have drafted Charles McRae and Eric Curry and Roberto Aguayo over the years. There is no defending any of them.

For the record, Jason Licht says that Winston wasn't a bust. Of course, he drafted him. Besides, what general manager wants to call his own guy a bust?

History will remember that Winston was a disappointment, an underachiever. He left because he was told to leave, banished from the fort. He never made a playoff game. His records are not covered in confetti.

If you want to argue that he wasn't a bust, well, that's acceptable. He had some very good numbers. But he also saw too many games decided because he threw the ball to the wrong jersey.

In the end, he was unacceptable.

And that's the highest praise you can muster.

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