Is this the lowest point in Winston’s career?

by Gary Shelton on November 9, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston will try to heal, mature in the next two weeks./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston will try to heal, mature in the next two weeks./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

It is a dark time in the career of Jameis Winston, quarterback. It's late, it's ugly and his night light is broken.

He is hurt, a shoulder sprain that will keep him out two weeks. He is losing, five in a row and counting. He is not playing well; his quarterback rating is 12 ½ points lower in his last four games than in his first four. He does not seem to be maturing; his pregame rant Sunday and the incident he instigated with New Orleans' Marshon Lattimore, for instance.

It all adds up to rough patch of road for the 23-year-old as he turns the keys to the offense over to backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.

And at 2-6?

“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Winston said. “Resiliency is one of the most beautiful things about life. You get a chance to go through

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Winston is in the toughest stretch of his career./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston is in the toughest stretch of his career./CARMEN MANDATO

troubling times and just keep your faith in God and just continue to be who you are and continue to get better. I think that’s one thing that we all miss sometimes. Yeah, we are going to go through tough times. Yeah, we are going to face adversity, but the most beautiful thing is how you overcome that adversity and how you show how resilient you are.

“I just want to compete. I’m out there to be there for my team any way that I can. I’m not going to take anything back that I’ve done in the previous week. This is where we’re at now. I can’t control what happened in the previous weeks. I just know where I am now and the steps that we are going to take for the future.”

Still, this is the low point of Winston's career. Before, he was young and learning, and he was growing along with his team. Now, he shares in its problems. He has struggled with accuracy, with maturity, with inefficiency. For the first time since he was at FSU, it is easy to doubt Winston. The future no longer seems guranteed.

Granted, some of his struggles are because of a damaged shoulder. He was at 2-2 when it was first injured; he's spiraled downward since. But there are other struggles, too. Too often, Winston seems like a kid.

Winston started his media session by apologizing for his behavior against the Saints.

“I just want to apologize (to) my teammates and Mike Evans for the incident that happened in the Saints game. That’s just something that I can’t do in the heat of the moment. Again, (it’s) just my competitive nature. I can’t come off the field and make any gestures toward the opponent, let alone touch him. I can’t do that. I apologize for that.”

Winston visited noted surgeon James Andrews on Tuesday.

“I’ve known Dr. Andrews for a long time,” Winston said. “It’s just standard protocol. “All the doctors are working together to come up with what they think. All I know is, for the next two weeks I’m going to be rehabbing and getting my shoulder 100 percent. That’s all I can tell you.”

Winston said he wasn't concerned with criticisms about his maturity.

"I’m not concerned about that at all because I know who I am as a person,” Winston said. “I know my character level. If that is in any way viewed as a character issue because of that, then I apologize to the people who view it that way. Like I said, it was in the heat of the battle — the heat of the moment type thing. I can’t do that as the leader of this team (and) as one of the leaders of this organization. I don’t want to put our team in that situation.”

And the pregame rant?

“When you’re losing, everything is magnified and everything is worse,” Winston said.

Koetter said he still believes in Winston.

“First of all, I know Jameis to be a fantastic leader,” Koetter said. “I think anyone that’s played with Jameis in his high school career, his college career or his professional career to date would agree with that, that Jameis is a terrific leader. Jameis has his own style. Anyone who has ever been a leader has their own individual style. What works for one person doesn’t work for everybody. I know when I’m in front of a room trying to motivate my team, I can know right when it’s over if that was a grand slam, a triple, a single, or a strikeout. You’re going to have some strikeouts in there. Most of that motivational stuff lasts until that first hit and then it’s down to the things that win and lose football games.”

Koetter thinks a lot of the criticism of Winston is born of frustration.

“I understand fans want to win,” Koetter said. “They want to win and when you’ve lost five games in a row, as we said earlier, whether it’s the run game with Doug Martin or the passing game with Jameis, everything gets magnified. That’s understandable. If all that stuff happened and we win the game, we’re probably not having this same thing. All that said, Jameis, after he was out, coming off (the sideline) and starting that – I know Jameis already addressed that — that’s a different issue. That’s not the Jameis Winston I know. He spoke on that earlier today. Do I understand it? Yeah. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.”

For the first time since he arrived, Winston will not start Sunday. Instead, he'll watch former Buc backup Josh McCown play for the Jets against current backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“It shows you what a quarterback in the NFL is,” Koetter said. “There (are) 32 teams and you make up your own number where you think the number is of teams that like their starter, let alone like their backup. Every year media (and) fans, they’ve always got their eye on the next five guys out of college or who is going to be a free agent because every team wants that guy and they’re searching.

“Well, there just isn’t that many of those guys, so guys that are smart, tough (and) can do it pretty (well) can make a great living. There is a bunch of them. You named two. I can think of a bunch more. Someone is going to fill those jobs — guys that can learn a system, guys that can stand in the pocket or they have the ability, maybe that is their forte, but they can move the ball [and] they can hold up somewhere between one and pick your number [of] games, but the teams are always going to be looking for someone a little bit better.”

Game time is Sunday at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

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