The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to give Jameis Winston his starting job back earlier this season despite how well Ryan Fitzpatrick had played, but the switch didn’t last very long.
Winston was benched in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals after he threw his fourth interception of the day. One of the picks was returned for a touchdown.
Some of the throws from Winston were truly atrocious:
This throw by Jameis Winston may be the worst of the season at any level. pic.twitter.com/q79tDyjAJj
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 28, 2018
Winston has thrown multiple interceptions in every game in which he has played this season, and the four on Sunday brought his total for the season to 10. Considering the game against the Bengals was only his third start of the year, that is about as bad as it gets.
It’s no secret that the NFL is loaded with elite quarterbacks. A number of them are experienced veterans, such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, or Philip Rivers. These quarterbacks are in their mid-to-upper 30s — or beyond, in Brady’s case — and simply will not be around forever.
So who are the best of the next generation of quarterbacks? Here are the 10 best NFL quarterbacks under the age of 30 (note: Russell Wilson was left off the list because he turns 30 this season).
10) Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
The 24-year-old Trubisky is a young quarterback on the rise. He’s shown some ability as a mobile quarterback, with four rushing touchdowns to his name over the course of his young career. The flashes of a quality passer are there, too, as shown by a six-touchdown performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. He’s up to 13 touchdowns in six games so far in 2018. Those are very promising numbers for a second-year quarterback who is still learning his craft at the NFL level.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made an unsurprising decision on their quarterback situation.
Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter announced Monday that Jameis Winston will start for Tampa Bay in Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2018
This comes as no surprise, as Koetter hinted at the decision after Sunday’s game. Ryan Fitzpatrick had started the season with three consecutive 400-yard performances, but he was inconsistent in both Weeks 3 and 4. Winston’s return from suspension made the call something of a no-brainer.
Winston will have two weeks to reacquaint himself with the Tampa Bay offense, as they’re heading into a bye week. They’re 2-2 and will have Winston, their most talented quarterback, under center to start their key divisional tilt.
- Jameis Winston
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers accomplished virtually nothing in their embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, but Jameis Winston may have earned his starting job back.
Ryan Fitzpatrick drew the start on Sunday even with Winston having returned from his three-game suspension, but head coach Dirk Koetter made a quarterback change when his team was trailing 38-3 at halftime. Winston proceeded to throw an interception on his first drive of the season, but Koetter hinted that he’s going to start in Week 6 after the bye.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2018
Winston ended up throwing two picks, but he completed 16-of-20 passes for 145 yards and led a touchdown drive. It makes sense that he was rusty since it was his first action of the year, so Koetter is probably giving him the benefit of the doubt.
While Fitzpatrick put up video game numbers over the first three weeks of the season, a report from Sunday indicated he was already on a very short leash. It would be a surprise if he starts over Winston again in Week 6.
- Jameis Winston
Ryan Fitzgerald went from the toast of the NFL to apparently losing his job very, very quickly.
Despite Fitzpatrick’s remarkable start to the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not hesitate to bench him at halftime while behind 38-3 to the surging Chicago Bears, bringing Jameis Winston on to start the third quarter.
And here comes QB Jameis Winston for the #Bucs… It was a quick hook by coach Dirk Koetter, as Ryan Fitzpatrick goes to the bench.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2018
While this could theoretically be an effort to get Winston some reps in a game that is now a blowout, it may be that he’s staking his case for the starting job after returning from suspension. Fitzpatrick went 9-of-18 for 126 yards with an interception, though the blowout wasn’t really his fault with the way his Chicago Bears counterpart played.
Winston threw an interception on his first drive of the second half, so it remains to be seen if he really stands out in relief of Fitzpatrick.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has put up passing yardage at an incredible rate for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, surprising everyone except for, apparently, the man he was standing in for.
Jameis Winston said Wednesday that he expected Fitzpatrick to excel, and is happy with the situation as long as the team is winning.
“This is what I expected,” Winston said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN. “Obviously, it’s a tough situation to say but it’s a win-win situation baby. [We’re] here balling hard, [we’re] winning. The community is behind us. I’m happy, everyone is happy, you guys are happy. As long as we [are] happy, [we’re] good.”
Winston might have to get used to being happy with it without being a part of it. Even though his suspension is over, the likelihood is that Fitzpatrick will retain the starting job at least through Week 4.
Jameis Winston may have lost a lot more than a significant portion of his salary when the NFL suspended him for three games. If Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play at a high level, Winston could find himself riding the bench for the foreseeable future.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Fitzpatrick is “very likely” to remain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback when Winston returns from his suspension. While team officials have not yet met to make an official decision, Fitzpatrick has been arguably the best quarterback in football through the first two games of the season. His performance and that of the team is impossible to ignore.
In two games, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 819 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. He has a nearly-perfect passer rating of 151.5. The Bucs stunned the New Orleans Saints on the road in Week 1 before beating the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles at home last week.
One source told La Canfora the Bucs plan to take things “week to week” after Winston returns. There’s a chance Fitzpatrick could get just one more start in Week 4 since Tampa will have a short week after facing the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, but it’s going to be tough to take him off the field if the Buccaneers continue to win.
Winston recently had a lawsuit filed against him from the woman who says she was groped by him in an Uber car back in 2016. He has avoided charges, but the NFL still suspended him three games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.