Breaking up is hard to do.
Even when you know that it’s the best thing for both people involved. For Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it needed to be done. It’s a cruel reminder that the NFL is still a moneymaking business, and losing doesn’t make money. And for the five seasons, the Jameis led Buccaneers have been losers.
Since Jameis Winston was drafted in 2015, the Buccaneers have a record of 32-48 with just one winning season (2016: 9-7) and zero playoff appearances. Is that all Winston’s fault? Of course not. For his entire stint with the Buccaneers, he’s had no real run game, a spotty offensive line, and a bottom-ranked defense. Not to mention three different head coaches in five years. However, his 88 interceptions and 50 fumbles did contribute to the losing. In fact, last year alone, his 30 picks and 12 fumbles directly led to 112 points for opposing teams.
But was it just the turnovers? Peyton Manning had more interceptions (100) in his first five seasons. Brett Favre had more fumbles (52 fumbles and 77 interceptions) in his first five years as a starter in Green Bay. They’re both considered two of the greatest QBs of all time. So what is it about Jameis Winston that makes him unworthy of a second contract? Why is it that no teams have expressed interest in him as a starter during free agency?
We’re talking about a guy that threw for 5,100 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. A guy who holds thirty-nine franchise records and eleven NFL records. A guy who was only the third rookie QB to throw for over 4,000 yards and the only QB to throw for back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons to start his NFL career. A guy who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. A guy who was the second youngest QB to reach the 10,000-yard mark for his career. A guy who was the youngest QB to throw 40 career touchdowns. A guy who was just the 8th quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. A guy who was the closest thing this team has ever had to a “franchise quarterback“.
And now he’s gone.
They say divorce is hardest on the kids. That’s true. In the case of Jameis and the Buccaneers, the fans are the kids. Some are taking it harder than others. Some are accepting it and some are in denial. Some are happy and some are angry. What’s done is done, and there’s nothing that any of us fans can do to change it. It’s time to move on, whether we want to or not.
So farewell, Jameis.
For the last five years, you have given your blood, sweat, and tears for this Buccaneers organization. You’ve been an absolute warrior on the football field playing through injuries and adversity. You’ve been an absolute saint off the field living your life for your God and your family. You’ve been the unquestioned leader in the locker room and the heart and soul of this team. And you’ve been an unwavering pillar in the community and a mentor and role model to thousands of Bay area kids. Your competitive fire and love for the game made you a joy to watch on Sundays. Your compassion and love for life made you an example of how we all should be every other day of the week. This is how Tampa Bay fans will remember you. Not for the records or the interceptions. Not for the pre-game speeches or the post-game interviews. But for the man, you were and will no doubt continue to be no matter where your new road leads. From everyone in Buc Nation, thank you for everything that you’ve done for this franchise and this community over the last five years. We wish you all the best and good luck in the next chapter of your life!
Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Those words just don’t sound right coming out of my mouth. I’m still in shock. I keep waiting to wake up to find that it was all some kind of dream, but it’s not. I’ve seen the billboards around town to prove it. Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of mankind, will be the Bucs new starting QB for the 2020 season.
The end of one era is just the beginning of another. That’s what’s happening in Tampa Bay right now. The time for Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers has come to a close, so the Tom Brady and the Buccaneers time is here now. So what does that mean for this franchise?
It means the most losing franchise in professional sports is getting a proven winner.
In 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, Brady never had a losing season. His worst record was 9-7 in 2002, but that was after winning the Super Bowl in his first year as a full-time starter. He had 16 seasons where his team finished 11-5 or better. He had 7 seasons where his team finished 13-3 or better, including a 16-0 season in 2007. His teams won the AFC East 17 times and never finished worse than second. His teams have been to 13 AFC Championship games and 9 Super Bowls, winning 6 of them. He’s won four Super Bowl MVPs and three regular-season MVPs.
He just wins.
After the 2019 season ended, Bruce Arians instructed some of his coaching staff and scouts to review game film of the quarterbacks who were becoming free agents or could be available for trade this year. He wanted to know which, if any, of those quarterbacks were worth moving on from Jameis Winston. They all did independent film study in order to come up with their individual choices and met up just after the Super Bowl. There were two players that repeatedly came up in the meeting. Brady was one of them.
Winston Career Stats:
70 starts, 61.3% comp, 19,737 yards, 121 touchdowns, 88 interceptions, 4.7/3.5 TD/INT%, 7.7 yards per attempt, 319 yards per game, 6.2% sack
Brady Career Stats:
283 starts, 63.8% comp, 74,571 yards, 541 touchdowns, 179 interceptions, 5.4/1.8 TD/INT%, 7.5 yards per attempt, 262 yards per game, 4.8% sack
In their first phone call on March 16, the first day of “legal tampering” before NFL free agency began, Bruce Arians and Jason Licht talked to Brady for about an hour and a half. Money was never brought up. Instead, Brady wowed them with his knowledge of Bruce Arians’ offense. He had obviously done his homework, even referring to Bucs players by name and position in certain formations. I’m sure it was music to Licht’s and Arians’ ears. There was an undeniable mutual interest there. And once the phone call was complete, the Bucs knew they had their man. His only request was that he wanted all of his new teammate’s phone numbers.
Brady will be 43-years old by the time this season begins. He’s made statements about playing until he is 45-years old. He signed a two year deal with Tampa. So why Brady? Well, besides being the greatest quarterback to ever live. He can still play. He still has the arm. He can still make every throw necessary to run Arians’ offense. He has a higher football IQ than any player out there. But most importantly, he takes care of the football. Arians made a statement to the team after last season that if the turnover ratio had been flipped, they would’ve been in the playoffs. That’s why Brady is here. In 20 seasons, he’s only thrown 179 career interceptions and has a 1.8 interception percentage. He’s never thrown more than 14 picks in a season and only has 36 picks since Jameis Winston was drafted in 2015. To put those numbers into perspective, Winston has thrown 88 interceptions in five seasons (30 last year alone) and has a 3.5 career interception percentage. He’s never thrown fewer than 11 picks in a season, while Brady has had 10 or fewer 8 times in his career.
He takes care of the football.
Some critics may say that’s a byproduct of the system he played in at New England. I say he takes what the defense gives him. But that’s exactly why he’s in Tampa Bay now…to prove those critics wrong. He’s gambling on himself a bit coming here. But I think he likes the challenge. It motivates him. It fuels that competitive fire that burns deep in his soul. He wants to prove to the whole world that he was a bigger part of those six Super Bowl titles than people give him credit for. And what’s the best way to do that? Sign with a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 years and take them to a Super Bowl…immediately.
Not next year.
Not two years from now.
He’s rolling the dice with the Bucs. He’s either going to tarnish his legacy by coming here and losing, proving the critics right. Or he’s going to cement his legendary status by bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Tampa Bay. THAT is why he’s here. And I think he just might do it.
So welcome to Tampa, Tom!
For the last 20 years, you have provided the Patriots and their fans numerous championships and much happiness with your drive and determination on the field and your zest for life and love off of it. We here in Buc Nation are looking forward to you doing the same here in Tampa Bay. We know that you bring much more to this team than being the “GOAT“. You demand 110% from everyone who coaches you and plays with you. Your experience and leadership alone will win more games for this team than your arm will. And we will be right there with you to see it happen. We may not be a “big market” or sellout Raymond James Stadium very often (but I’m sure you’ll remedy that since the waiting list for season tickets reached almost 8,000 when news broke you were coming), but those of us fans who are on board and show up every Sunday are devoted and will never jump ship. We are beyond excited for this season and can’t wait for it to start.
Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!