The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the biggest splash of this disjointed, but active NFL free-agency period by prying Tom Brady away from the New England Patriots.
The Bucs weren’t necessarily in the market for a new QB throughout the season. However, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, a late-season swoon by Jameis Winston reportedly convinced the team to move on from the former No. 1 overall pick, and that is what led Tampa Bay to pursue and convince Brady to leave the only team he’d played for during his legendary 20-year NFL career
Despite his turnovers, Winston had a chance to be the quarterback in 2020 until the final two games of last season. The Bucs were 7-7 and riding a four-game winning streak. They outplayed both the Texans and Falcons in the final two games, but Winston threw them both away. Fittingly, his final play was a pick-six for a game-ending touchdown in an overtime loss at home to Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Bucs scouting department was keeping close tabs on all potential free agent quarterbacks, including Brady.
Let’s take a closer look at the games in question.
Jameis Winston Shouldn’t Shoulder All the Blame for the Week 17 Loss
It’s a little unfair to blame the entire 28-22 Week 17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Winston. Yes, he threw a pick-six in overtime that Deebo Jones returned for a TD. Yes, it was a poor pass and Winston simply didn’t see Jones. However, Winston and Breshad Perriman had excellent chemistry that game.
He connected with Perriman five times for 134 yards and a TD.
The duo connected on a hail mary pass at the end of the first half, and that was a huge play lost on many because of the way the game ended.
The Bucs were playing without both of their top receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and Winston while not having his best statistical game, was still competitive (13-24, 201 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT). You could make a much greater argument the game was lost because of the failures of Tampa Bay’s kicker, Matt Gay.
The 25-year-old rookie missed all three of his field-goal attempts. Had he made just one of those kicks, the game doesn’t even go to overtime.
Follow the Heavy on Patriots Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
Jameis Winston’s Week 16 Performance Was Rough on the Eyes
Winston’s performance in the Week 16 loss against the Houston Texans is a little tougher to defend. Winston didn’t just throw four interceptions in this game; he threw a pick-six on his very first throw, and then a second interception on his next attempt.
Winston also badly overthrew two receivers in the end zone in the first half that would have been easy TDs. Finally, he threw an interception in the fourth quarter with his team in a position to drive and score, or to force overtime with a field goal.
In his defense, an ever so slight one, there were a number of drops by receivers and tight ends. One especially egregious mishandled came from Cameron Brate in the fourth quarter with less than four minutes left in the game, and the Bucs driving but trailing 23-20. If Brate makes this catch, the drive is extended, and the Bucs have a chance to not only tie but potentially take the lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Winston Might be Getting Some Unfair Blame, But…
There is no question Brady represents a more calming and dependable presence under center. With Ronald Jones II, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, and a promising defense, the future Hall-of-Famer may have the weapons to shine brighter than Winston ever did.
Still, to say Winston threw both of those games away seems a little harsh. If you watch the way the Bucs played in these two games, you can’t help but ask yourself, what would have happened if Brady had been the QB and not Winston?
Perhaps in 2020, we’ll find out what Brady can do with much the same personnel.