At least Winston still has his starting job

by Gary Shelton on October 24, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Could Winston follow Mariota to the bench?/ © Joe Mest

Thursday, 4 a.m.

They came into the league together. They’re highs were measured against each other’s highs. Their lows were compared to the other’s lows. Together, they were supposed to be the next wave of quarterbacking.

But five years later, both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are at career crossroads.

Tennessee’s Mariota has been benched. Tampa Bay’s Winston has played poorly enough that he might be if there was another alternative. Both the Titans and Bucs are struggling, and their quarterbacks have led the way.

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Mariota will watch Ryan Tannehill play Sunday as the Bucs visit the Titans. Winston, coming off a six-turnover afternoon, will try to rebound.

No, it  isn’t exactly a great quarterback duel.

“You’ve just got to (bounce back),” Winston said. “You’re going to have good games and you’re going to have bad games. The only thing is when you have bad games, you have to hope that you won it. This is just a key game (with) us coming back from the Bye Week, getting back together as a team (and) building on the positives that we had from the first six weeks, and going out there and executing.”

In his time, Winston has won 21 games. Mariota has won 29. Each player had a nine-win season but faded.

“I have to make sure I am making the most of every single day, whether it’s extra film work (or) whether it’s that more-detailed preparation,” Winston said. “Whatever it may be, whether it’s taking a check down, it’s just making every decision based upon if this is going to help us win or not.”

Bucs’ coach Bruce Arians said that Winston has practiced well.

"He’s come out just like it’s water off of his back,” Arians said. “I like that about him. It’s not like he’s sitting around sulking or hesitant in any way. He had a really good two practices, so I think he’ll play really well.”

His history bears it outs. He has never had a five-interception day before last week, but the three times he had four, he bounced back well. In 2015, after throwing four picks against Carolina, he came out against Jacksonville and hit 13 of 19 with a 122.5 rating. In 2016, he threw four against Arizona, then had threw for 405 yards against the Rams and had. a 93.0 rating. Last year, he threw four against Atlanta, then came back by hitting 16 of 22 passes for a 129.9 rating against the Giants.

Arians conceded that too many systems can be hard on a quarterback.

"A lot of times, that is the case – too many systems,” Arians said. “This one (Jameis Winston) has only been in two, so you can’t use that as an excuse. For me, it’s just, let’s play it all out. Let’s see – can we correct mistakes, can we get better, can we play like we did in Los Angeles six weeks in a row – or in Carolina – and not have that game like we had the other day? Again, that’s a lot of guys around him. That’s part of the part about being disappointed and sometimes, the guys around him are making mistakes that are affecting him.”

Winston can’t take time to feel Mariota’s pain.

“I keep track of all of the quarterbacks in this league,” Winston said. “The main person that I keep track of is myself. I have to focus on how I can get better. Everyone has something they can get better at. Every single quarterback has something they can get better at, but I am pretty sure they do more self-scouting than scouting other people.

“I’ve got to make sure I’m doing the things I need to do for this side. We’re focused on getting a win versus Tennessee.”

The Bucs play at Tennessee Sunday at 1 p.m.

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