“They’re Just Wasting Their Time”

November 21st, 2019

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An exuberant Fran Tarkenton greeted me from his office in Atlanta this week.

The Hall of Fame quarterback wanted to talk up former Vikings teammate Jim Marshall as a worthy candidate for a gold jacket, noting that Marshall played a critical role in helping Minnesota to three Super Bowl appearances within a 4-year span, beginning in 1973.

Tarkenton and the Vikings lost all three games, but let’s not forget that the 1973 Dolphins, 1974 Steelers and 1976 Raiders, stocked with Hall of Famers, combined for a 35-6-1 record in those seasons.

Before Tarkenton advocated for Marshall, I asked the 9-time Pro Bowler about his thoughts on Jameis Winston. The man knows a little bit about playing the position, winning league MVP honors in 1975 and still ranking eighth on the NFL’s all-time win list for starting quarterbacks with 124 victories.

“I see Winston make so many stupid plays,” Tarkenton said. “The one thing a quarterback’s got to have, he doesn’t have to be a Phi Beta Kappa, but he has to have a football brain. Tom Brady isn’t physically gifted, but he has a football brain. — he knows how to play.”

Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton

The Bucs stand minus-10 on the turnover chart, in large part because of Winston’s NFL-high 18 interceptions. The only other quarterbacks with more than 10 picks are Philip Rivers (14) and Baker Mayfield (12).

“I’ve watched Jameis Winston enough over the years to know he makes stupid plays,” said Tarkenton, who threw 32 picks of his own in 1978, his final season before retiring. “I love Tampa Bay’s coach. I think Bruce Arians is terrific and the Bucs have had their moments this year, but Winston has been there five years. If he hasn’t shown he can play consistent football by now …”

Jameis has a diminished stature among teammates, says Fran Tarkenton.

Tarkenton didn’t finish the sentence, but his stance was clear. He believes Winston’s time in Tampa has run its course.

“Really good quarterbacks play pretty much at the same level pretty much the whole way,” he said. “Winston continues to do stupid, crazy things and that takes his stature down in the eyes of his teammates because they feel they can’t depend on him.”

Evidence In Hand

The Bucs are facing a key decision on Winston, who is hoping to become the first quarterback drafted by Tampa Bay to earn a long-term extension with the organization. Winston’s 24-40 career record under center and his penchant for giveaways remain a concern.

“No matter where you’re playing, no matter how bad your team is, you have to win games,” said Tarkenton, who finished his 18-year career with a 124-109-6 record in the regular season and a 6-5 mark in the postseason. “You’ve got to win.”

Tarkenton, who turns 80 in December, said the quarterback position has changed markedly in the past four decades since his final game. He marvels at the mobility of current stars like Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes and the new styles of offense on display every week.

During his day, Tarkenton was known as an exciting scrambler with a knack for escaping the pass rush.

“I was coachable,” he said. “I could not have done it if I wasn’t willing to learn. I think it comes down to this: if Jameis Winston is still doing this stuff under this coach, he’s never going to get there. They’re just wasting their time.”

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Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the league and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at The Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined JoeBucsFan.com in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. You can hang out with Ira during every Bucs road games at Buffalo Wild Wings. His schedule is linked here.

72 Responses to ““They’re Just Wasting Their Time””

  1. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    pretty spot on from fran the scram who was a way better mnf announcer than booger too

  2. Mike Johnson Says:

    Ira, I got Jameis here another year under Arians. For some reason, Arians still thinks he can turn him around. I like Jameis. Bit I am now of the mindset its time to cut our losses and move on. OR Go all out and build a Kick butt defense like we use to have. Jameis is always going to be..Helter Skelter. Our offense will score despite his many mistakes. But can we stop anybody? Arians would be smart to just fortify his Defense if he’s gonna keep Jameis. I would.

  3. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Don’t have a stroke, Joe

  4. AKickInTheBucNuts Says:


  5. DooshLaRue Says:

    Tark nailed it.
    I hope JL is reading this.

  6. Pewter power Says:

    He’ll probably get franchised because they wont know if the quarterback they want will be there unless they are top 3 in the draft. If they dont draft a quarterback and winston has this same type of performance in 2020 winston and licht will be gone the next year then the Glazers will look to Derrick Brooks or ronde barber to help blow it up and rebuild.

  7. zzbuc Says:

    I have to say I agree about everything he said…….That makes me and Tarkenton Winston´s haters??? By any means, we just say what we think……no more no less……

  8. Tye Says:

    Great evaluation!

    I long realized its possible most players aren’t playing at their highest level because they know JW will just screw up all their efforts with turnovers..
    much like Fran said:
    “Winston continues to do stupid, crazy things and that takes his stature down in the eyes of his teammates because they feel they can’t depend on him.”

  9. DooshLaRue Says:

    Sober Joe won’t have a stroke.
    Silly Joe will keep rewatching game film trying to find any little excuse for why JayMiss threw an interception.

  10. Bruce Blahak Says:

    OK, can the Joes and any other WinSTUNNED hugger understand this? “he has to have a football brain” ….This fraud never has and never will acquire a “football brain” ….its that simple ….end the madness and cure this team….say goodbye to WINSTUNNED and the sooner the better! It’s Griffin’s time, give him a chance!!!!

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It’s all about the money…..do we want to pay 20+ million for inconsistency?

    Perhaps we would be better off putting the money into other players & drafting a QB….

    Like I’ve stated….I’m on the fence with Winston…..but I’m definitely against paying him too much.

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    i agree with everything frank said….

    too many TOs…
    too many stupid decisions…
    and he’s been here for 5years….

    we have more question about JW now than when he was a rookie….

    as a rookie, every bucs fan wanted JW resigned….

    5years in, most want him gone…

    GO BUCS!!!!

  13. Reach87 Says:

    Lol. The problem is not #3. Learn football and stop with the popularity contests.

  14. WeeManOfScots Says:

    I’m amazed Tark is 80 years old! He still looks great…

    And what he said? Spot on…

  15. 813bucboi Says:


    i agree….

    players arent giving max effort….they’re tired of the BS….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  16. unbelievable Says:

    So let’s put a new QB behind our overpaid, underperforming o-line and wildly inconsistent, average-at-best run game.

    I mean how could we not improve, right?

    We’ve ONLY given up 36 sacks so far this season. There’s a whopping 3 teams who have actually given up more- the Jets, Dolphins, and Titans.

    I’ll let you guess what their W-L records are…

  17. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Is this IRA trolling one of the Joe’s? LMAO

    IRA claims he believes JW will never lead us to a SB.

    I agree. And I can see us all if we build a great team and somehow reach the playoffs despite JW’s inconsistency and bad Jameis shows up in the post season…one and done.

  18. tmaxcon Says:

    Talk about 2 washed up irrelevant has beens…. joes target demographics must be flintstoness, cavemen and dinosaurs…..

  19. Lamarcus Says:

    Even the JW haters come in elders……

    And if players give up effort because of interceptions then we have bigger issues

  20. DooshLaRue Says:

    About half of those sacks are on Winston and his stupid footwork and lack of pocket presence.

    Keep defending your boy though…..

  21. Danny Says:

    You can’t win games turning the ball over like the Bucs do. It pretty much comes down to that.

  22. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Cue the Jameis nut huggers silly attempts to discredit a Hall of Famer

  23. TexBuc Says:

    That’s good advice from an 18yr vet QB who threw 32 picks in his 18th year. I think he is just nervous Winston may over take his record from 1978….lol
    Be careful what you beg for I remember about a year ago many saying we should draft Dwayne Haskins. Not all QB’s drafted are gonna turn out like Lamar Jackson or Pat Mahomes.

  24. unbelievable Says:

    LOL, he’s not even my boy.

    I didn’t even want us to draft him originally.

    But there’s so much misguided nonsense in the comments blaming EVERYTHING possible on him, that I’m put in the position of defending him when I’m just trying to be objective.

    This team has issues at every position group. Every single one.

    We’ve had a bottom-5 defense every year since Winston was here (except a 5 game stretch in 2016).

    Our o-line gives up more pressures and sacks than almost any team in the league, every single year.

    We haven’t had a run game since 2015.

    Just really curious as to what quarterback you think will take us to the playoffs without all those others issues also being addressed. Mahomes is the only QB to have success with a terrible defense. (But he also had a great run game, solid o-line, and Andy Reid who is an offensive genius compared to the long-developing, all vertical schemes we’ve been running every year.)

    But hey I’m sure a new QB will make our pass rush, secondary, run game, and pass blocking suddenly be great and consistent.

    I mean put Tom Brady back there and we’d be #1 in the league, right? (In reality, we’d have at best 1-2 more wins than we have now.)

    Until you fix the trenches, this team will suck. Simple as that.

  25. unbelievable Says:

    Oh yeah, one more thing:

    I’d also like to see the W-L record for teams that attempt 6 runs the entire game.

    You guys let me know what that winning % looks like.

  26. Crack3rK Says:

    So, Tark got better by throwing 32 picks his final season? This guy is an angry dude, Ira.

  27. Season Is Over Says:

    Most knew this in year 2. Everyone has eyes.

  28. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Its a shame that all the national media falsely thinks Arians is calling the plays and game planning

    Leftwich would be out of the NFL if BA didnt come back to rob Malcolm’s bank account

    BA was going to be too busy riding the golfcart around 1buc place and needed someone to call plays. Since every competent coordinator runs the modern short passing attack, BA had only 1 choice. BA brought in unemployed overgrown child actor Leftovers

    4-12 coming up”

    Kobe Faker

  29. Pa Privateer Says:

    I will support the team is Winston is Franchised….

    I will support the team if Winston is dumped…

    I am honestly ready for a new QB. I watched Baker Mayfield last week against the Steelers. He had pinpoint throws and made very good decisions in the pocket and out of the pocket. It is time we got QB that makes better decisions and has better accuracy.

  30. BradentuckeyBuc Says:


    True, we have issues worse than Jamies on this team, and we keep him if he is still on a rookie contract. But the obvious question is, do we give a turnover prone, slow, inaccurate QB a HUGE pay raise with so many holes to fill?

    Most think not

  31. Jameis Almighty! Says:

    Tarkenton is a hack. Lazy take he must’ve gotten from the fake news media. Shelve Marshall! Tarkenton must not have a football brain or an arm with those 50 picks he threw his last year. Buffoon boofing clown…

  32. Mike Johnson Says:

    Say Ira..I guess its like the movie. When you been consistent losers for as long as we have…..Everything is ILLUMINATED.

  33. D-Rome Says:

    “I’ve watched Jameis Winston enough over the years to know he makes stupid plays,” said Tarkenton, who threw 32 picks of his own in 1978, his final season before retiring.”

    Joe, why do you think the number of interceptions Tarkenton threw in his final season after 17 years relevant to the discussion on Jay-Miss?

  34. Destinjohnny Says:

    Jameis can still make 7 million as a back up.
    Not bad

  35. Tye Says:

    we saw a micro-sample last year with Fitz when the team seemed to gel together for 3 games and many of us watch ENJOYABLE, EXCITING Bucs games…

    Many will surely be surprised if they start a different qb and suddenly the team looks like a whole different team busting their tails for the new qb!

  36. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Everyone around the country can clearly see what some in the Tampa Bay Area are unwilling to consider: Jameis isn’t a good NFL QB, nor will he ever be. Wake up and smell the coffee people. Time to move on.

  37. Buczilla Says:

    Great article and Tarkenton makes some good points about Jameis. I remember when he made a bone head int once and Dotson just threw his arms up in disgust. Time for a fresh start.

  38. gotbbucs Says:

    How many people “in the know” need to say the exact same thing about this guy before people wake up? He will never stop giving the ball away, ever. I don’t care if its tipped passes by his own receivers, back foot throws that sail, floating out route passes, forcing into double coverage when underneath routes are open. It’s too much and it’s too late.
    I don’t think Arians is a great coach, but I also know that everywhere that he has been he has been able to elevate the play of the QB. Winston is so maddeningly consistent with his inconsistencies that there really is no way to get to the core of it. He’s just not wired right.
    Let him be someone else’s pet project on the cheap, it’s too late for it to work out here.

  39. Hodad Says:

    We need a new GM. I don’t trust Licht to get what needs to be done. Guys had six years, and this is what we have? Licht needs to go, and it would be good for Winston to get a fresh start somewhere else too.

  40. jjbucfan Says:

    Fran is Senile!! Get Some professional O-lineman and lets see how he does. I bet you start a see a change in philosophies during the draft- more and more O-line will be going in the first and second rounds. Book it!! Also book it that Licht will NOT be one of the guys taking them because he must not watch the games, just read PFF and crappy publications that can manipulate numbers. JMO

  41. DooshLaRue Says:

    I just watched all of Tarkenton’s film from his final season.
    Out of those 32 interceptions,
    11 were because his offensive lineman brushed up against him while throwing.
    7 were caused by the football being frozen solid.
    3 were because his coach said something mean to him before the game.
    And 1 was because a defensive tackle farted loudly while he was throwing the ball.

    So according to The NutHugger’s forgiveness math…..
    Only 10 of those picks were Fran’s fault.

  42. whats the bucs plan 2020 Says:

    Forest Gumps momma say you cant fix Stupid.

  43. 813bucboi Says:


    we could put a rookie QB back there and at worst he would have 18 INTS this year…..lol…

    JW has 18 and counting!!!!!…lol…

    GO BUCS!!!!

  44. stpetebucsfan Says:


    OK that was funny!

  45. NPRSageBoy Says:

    JayMiss needs to go. Never gonna be a winner….anywhere.

    Peace, out

  46. unbelievable Says:


    Agree with you about the money. It would only make sense for a very team friendly contract with all the holes we have.

    My point is without fixing all these other issues, it doesn’t matter who your QB is.

    Or maybe 813 thinks there is some magic QB out there who will somehow play OT, DE, LB and CB too?

  47. Curse of Gruden Says:

    Doosh – Excellent conversion of Tark’s final year’s stats to current-day Buc metrics. Well done….

  48. Boombang Says:

    Why didn’t you post my comment…..Did I offend your award winning HOF Mr. Kaufman…..You can dish it but you can’t take it.

  49. Kansas95Buc Says:


    man I think you’re one of 10 people who objectively looks at the team see the glaring holes we have. what qb can come to this team right now and win? anybody care to answer? anyone….

  50. Kansas95Buc Says:


    what will it cost to have you ask Licht why he hasn’t drafted players that will contribute to the team?

  51. diggler Says:

    Man I like Ira but quoting such a brutal and blunt take on Jameis is borderline cruel. Conversations like this should be off the record out of respect for the player. We all knew this without Fran Tarkenton telling us. What would be newsworthy is why did the owners and GM waste so many years on Winston. Now that is something I’d love to know.

  52. Joe Says:

    what will it cost to have you ask Licht why he hasn’t drafted players that will contribute to the team?

    LOL Would likely be the last time would ever see the inside of One Buc Palace.

  53. John Says:

    It does appear that he’s had plenty of time to progress and still is not a strong QB. I wouldn’t mind him with Arians for another year and full off season. Truth is good QB’s are hard to come by. Unless you’re going to go out and get someone to come in and start w/potential for permanent status (ie: a Bridgewate or Tannehill type, not a Hoyer or Fitzpatrick) it’s not a horrible idea to give Bruce a little more time with him.

  54. Boombang Says:

    @diggler…..I’ll tell you why he quoted Tark….Kaufman is the biggest distractor of Winston – he wants Winston GONE and because he is this so-called award winning HOF voter…..He thinks his voice in the sports communigy in and around TB carry weight……I can only imagine the Chubby Mr. Kaufman had while Tark spoke negatively of Winston….Kaufman, No doubt, was elated with the conversation because it validates everything Mr. Kaufman thinks of Winston.
    Silly, really. As Ira told Joe when he sent over the column.”If he raved about Winston, that’s what I would have written. I had no idea where he was going to go.” -Joe

  55. whaaatttsss uuuup Says:

    there Joe … are you going to stop protecting this guy finally?? the guy has held this team down and if you think you know more than this guy then you are mistaken!!! i dont care if they are 4th most in scoring or whatever!! they have played from behind most the season because he has thrown 2 or 3 picks to start the dang game!!! they have to score that much!! i feel bad for the defense!!… but yeah man we are all sick of your INCORRECT version of Winston

  56. DB55 Says:

    Tow questions for Mr Tarkenton since winning is so important.
    1. Can we see your Super Bowl rings?
    2. At what point did the purple people eaters give up 32 ppg?
    Ol Frankie boy sounds like he posts at jbf under the pen name Bucs bandit.
    Please just add wINsToN to the long and I mean LONG list of players are coaches who weren’t good enough to win in TB but unlike mr frank trankenton can show you their SB rings on demand and without hesitation.
    Ira you’re becoming more and more lame by the minute.
    C’mon, now. Should Ira not say what a Hall of Fame QB has to say because some people won’t like it? That would be lame. No reason to shoot the messenger.–Joe

  57. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Tarkenton was 10 times the QB that Jay Miss is.

  58. DB55 Says:

    Here’s what you folks choose to ignore. In the 6 years between Gruden and Jameis the Bucs won 28 games. The 5 per season.

    If you take out Raheem’s 10 win season which was full of unsavory characters that are hated by most of the “real fans” not to mention a NOT “real HC” whatever that means, the Bucs won 18 games in 5 years.

  59. Jean Lafitte Says:

    It finally took me all the way past Jameis’s four game suspension and his subsequent benching for bad play that I finally opened my eyes and gave into the realization that in order for us to get better, we would have to go another direction and start over at QB.

    Jameis, after almost five complete seasons,just can’t beat Jameis consistently.

  60. Buccaneerscotty Says:

    If this a@@ clown is here another year I’m done with wasted Sunday’s! Over it!

  61. Buccaneerscotty Says:

    Nicely put whaaatttsss

  62. unbelievable Says:

    That’s what I’m saying Kansas95Buc

    There’s just so many issues to fix.

    And coincidentally, I think that may actually be the biggest factor that would cause them to wave goodbye to Jameis. We need money to fix all the problems, so throwing more at the QB position doesn’t help us achieve that.

  63. mark2001 Says:

    Exactly what I’ve been saying…

    Consistency a must and he doesn’t have it…check…trust of other players to deliver a good pass, on time, and make the right read is lacking…check… He isn’t seeming to learn under any coach, especially the QB whisperer…check.

    And for those of you that think Arians is enamored with Jameis and wedded to him next year, please, think again.

    He is saying the right things, hoping Jameis can turn it around and start consistently playing like a Franchise QB. But if Jameis doesn’t get it by the end of the year, he is gone. He will have arrived at the end of the road in Tampa. Hope the light goes on…but it is getting quickly near the point of no return.

  64. gotbbucs Says:

    I live the o-linemen argument…..as if every other team in the NFL has superior talent across the board on the o-line.
    Make your pre-snap reads and get the ball out of your damn hands in less than 4 seconds, how about we try that?

  65. mark2001 Says:

    gottbbucs… ouch…but not unreasonable. And if no one is open, throw it away and chew out the receivers for not getting separation.

  66. Tarkenton has CTE Says:

    Copied and pasted from the author of the Jameis book guy:

    Fran Tarkenton said “no matter how bad your team is, you have to win games” while bashing #Bucs Jameis Winston

    First 64 NFL Starts:

    Winston: 24-40 for a .375 win%
    Tarkenton: 22-39-3 for a .367 win%
    Note: It also took Tarkenton 13 YEARS to make his first playoffs😑
    To keep it a little more real, Tarkenton also was a Pro Bowler in his fourth and fifth seasons. –Joe

  67. Justafan Says:

    Fran Tarkenton threw for 32 interceptions in a season. That is a real stat. He must have been drinking when he made that comment, as he seems to forget he was a turnover machine. He actually led the league I career interceptions at the time of his retirement.

  68. Jaywill Says:

    Says the guy who had a legendary defense backing him.

  69. Jmarkbuc Says:


    “My point is without fixing all these other issues, it doesn’t matter who your QB is.”

    Exactly why JW should be let go…we can lose with any QB, until we have enough team to warrant going after a QB.

    Cannot reward crab legs for his body of work.

  70. DB55 Says:

    And to think I deleted all the insults I had in the comment. Joe hopefully next time we see each other we can hug it out. It just football talk bro you know I ain’t got nothing but love for you two.

  71. BrianBucs Says:

    Tark is exactly right.
    Bucs need to move on from Winston

  72. Capt. Tim Says:

    Yup. Tark’s right.
    With Fritz at the helm- we saw what this offense should look like, in the first few games last year.
    Jameis will let the offense down, every time
    They know it. Alot of the offensive players have given up on him.
    You can watch the WRs. They dont fight to get open, like they did in the beginning of the season.
    The line isnt holding blocks as long.
    You can see that this team isnt playing hard for Jameis.

    Again, gotta wonder how many more years of Mike Evans and our other good offensive players career are we gonna waste.