The news broke late in the afternoon on January 8th that former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had been hired to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. A proven winner and 2-time NFL Coach of The Year recipient, Arians will immediately face the tough task of turning around a talented, yet underachieving franchise coming off consecutive 5-11 seasons. Although, his biggest challenge may involve saving the career of arguably the biggest investment in Buccaneers history: 2015 first overall pick QB Jameis Winston.
Entering his fifth season as an NFL starting quarterback, Jameis Winston has amassed 14,628 yards and 88 passing touchdowns (9 more running) to go with an overall 87.8 quarterback rating. We have seen flashes of brilliance and raw talent during Winston’s first four seasons in the league. However, all too often the ugly parts of his game overshadow those great plays.
Coming out of college at Florida State, Winston was known as being that Brett Favre type. High risk, high reward.
He will turn the ball over but make nearly impossible throws to lead his team to victory. But the sheer number of turnovers through his first four years is a cause for great concern for the Bucs. Winston has turned the ball over 73 times in 56 games. While you could point to tipped passes or lackluster efforts from receivers for some of his 58 interceptions and porous offensive line play for a few of his lost fumbles, the turnover issue has been a constant battle that neither of Winston’s 2 previous coaching staffs have been able to get under control.
Enter Bruce Arians. Dubbed the “quarterback whisperer, Coach Arians has quite the impressive history of getting the most out of talented, yet mistake prone quarterbacks. Most recently working with Carson Palmer in Arizona, Palmer saw his numbers improve from 24 touchdowns & 22 interceptions, to 35 touchdowns & 11 interceptions in 2 full seasons. As Peyton Manning’s quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts during Manning’s first 3 seasons, Manning cut down drastically on turnovers from year 1 to year 2 and 21 years later we know how his NFL story turned out. But beyond Arians’ ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks, there is something else to be excited about. Bruce Arians wants to coach this team and, more specifically, this quarterback.
As a freshman at Hueytown High School in 2007 in Alabama, Jameis Winston attended a Bruce & Jake Arians football camp in Birmingham.
Even at this age, Arians saw something in Winston and knew he was going to turn into something special, calling him a tremendous athlete, a great leader, and someone he would “like to coach.” Well, 12 years later Arians will have the chance. It appears he will have his guy. But more importantly for the long term success and stability of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise, it appears that Winston has his guy, which is a title Dirk Koetter never appeared to have.
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