Just when you're sure you know Jameis, he gives you more to consider
John Romano, Tampa Bay Times, published 11 November 2019

Your mind is made up. That's perfectly understandable. Five years is a long time to wait for a quarterback to flourish, and it feels even longer when the bill for season tickets comes due. If you're ready to close the door on Jameis Winston's time in Tampa Bay it wouldn't be difficult to find a boatload of like-minded fans.

But, tell me, does an agreeable scoreboard on a sun-kissed afternoon give you pause? How about another 300-yard passing day? Or a game-winning drive? Or a locker room full of teammates who swear by Winston's talent, devotion and loyalty?

It's okay if you were not swayed by Sunday's 30-27 victory against the Cardinals. Or even the impressive way he performed in the overtime loss to Seattle the week before. History says it's only a matter of time before Winston erases a lot of that goodwill with another stinker.

It's just that history is not meant to be scrutinized in a hurry. "I think Jameis is a tremendous person, as well as a tremendous football player,'' said Bucs tackle Demar Dotson. "It's kind of sad when you see the media writing bad stuff about him. I know he reads it, and it hurts him. When I read it, I hurt for him because I know what kind of person he is. I see the way he interacts with people, the way he talks to people, the way he cares for people. The man has a heart, he's got a big heart. That's why the people in here love him.''

This is where a lot of us are with Winston. Always vacillating from one extreme to another. When he's bad, he looks so flustered that you can't imagine handing him another contract when this season concludes. And when he is good, you start worrying about Tampa Bay's history of throwing future Super Bowl quarterbacks in the dustbin.

Sunday's game gave us an opportunity to feel both ways about Winston. Barely a minute into the game, he tried to squeeze a throw past a defender who had position on Chris Godwin. It was the first of his two interceptions on the afternoon.

And, yet, Winston rebounded to throw for more than 300 yards for a team-record fourth consecutive game. He took the Bucs on a game-winning drive for the first time in more than a year, although that statistic is unfair. He also had a go-ahead drive against the Giants and two game-tying drives against the Seahawks, but the defense crapped out both times.

By the time the final whistle blew, Winston was second in the league in passing yards and the Bucs were fourth in the NFL with an average of 28.9 points per game. Right now, Tampa Bay is on pace to score 462 points. To put that in perspective, the Bucs have never even eclipsed 400 points in their 44-year history. Winston is literally leading the most explosive offense we have ever seen in this market.

So isn't it time to at least consider what the offense does well, instead of worrying about how it screws up? Isn't it time to consider whether Tampa Bay's 3-6 record has more to do with a dreadful defense than an erratic quarterback? And is the relentless focus on Winston's errors fair?

"It really doesn't bother me. I'm so privileged to have this opportunity to be the quarterback for the Buccaneers,'' Winston said. "I know God has a plan for me despite what anyone else might think. I know His will means more than anyone else's opinion of me.''

Of course, it's important not to get carried away. This was a close victory against a careless team. In some ways, the Cardinals out-Bucced the Bucs. They had two pass interference penalties on Tampa Bay's game-winning drive. Their tight end dropped the world's easiest touchdown pass. They committed a senseless penalty on a missed field goal attempt, and the Bucs turned that second chance into the winning margin.

So, no, the past two weeks should not completely change your opinion of Winston. There are still seven games remaining before the Bucs need to decide about the future of their quarterback. The dramatic number of empty seats at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday — the announced attendance of 40,038 seemed high — will no doubt factor into ownership's decision. And maybe your mind is already made up. But Jameis Winston's history in Tampa Bay is still not complete.