A Fighting Chance

August 15th, 2020

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Two games cost Jameis Winston millions of dollars and the right to remain Tampa Bay’s quarterback in 2020.

Two measly games.

But when Winston tossed those six interceptions at home against the Texans and Falcons, the Bucs were done at 7-9 instead of finishing 9-7 with a 6-game winning streak. Less than three months later, Tom Brady sauntered down from Door No. 2 and into the hearts of Buc Nation.

The Replacement

If the Bucs had won those two matchups, Winston would still be a starter in Tampa instead of a backup in New Orleans. It wasn’t easy for Bruce Arians to move on from Winston, but he had seen enough to know a change was needed.

He wasn’t sure Brady would ultimately choose One Buc Place as his next work destination, but Arians had come to a somber conclusion: Winston had lost the confidence of some of his teammates.

And why not?

The 2019 Bucs proved once again that football is a game of mistakes by leading the league in penalties and giveaways. An offense that averaged a whopping 398 yards per game — 50 more than the league average — couldn’t overcome a torrent of errors, both physical and mental.

So here comes Mr. Brady, the master of ball security. He’s here because Arians vowed recently, “If we don’t beat ourselves, I like our chances.”

Unforgivable Sins

For two decades with Brady leading the way, the Patriots rarely beat themselves. The more you look at Brady’s career arc, the more impressed you are with his aversion to interceptions.

For instance, a deep dive reveals that Brady has now gone 159 consecutive games without throwing more than two picks. Winston had issues going 159 snaps without being picked off four times.

The last time a Brady opponent walked away with at least three thefts came on Sept. 25, 2011, when the Patriots dropped a 34-31 decision at Buffalo. The Bills registered four interceptions against Brady that day, although he also threw four TD passes and New England couldn’t hold a 21-0 lead.

The Replaced

How long ago was that?

That was before Greg Schiano came to town, adjusting the thermostat at One Buc Place. Lavonte David was still leveling ball carriers at Nebraska and Arians was coaching up Ben Roethlisberger as offensive coordinator of the Steelers.

Arians can’t wait to see what might happen if the Bucs finish with a positive turnover ratio. That’s an exciting scenario to consider, given that NFL players voted four Bucs into the NFL’s Top 100, not including Rob Gronkowski and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Yes, a lot of talent was wasted in 2019 — and that’s an unforgivable sin.

Like Clint Eastwood in “Magnum Force,” Brady believes that “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

Confidence is a wonderful trait in sports, but common sense is even better. While Winston’s penchant for forced passes often led to turnovers, Brady plays the percentages. He’s not much of a risk-taker, unless you consider the cajones it takes for a 43-year-old man to face down pass rushers half his age.

There’s a reason Brady stands No. 4 on the all-time list of quarterbacks with the lowest interception rate. In case you were wondering, Winston holds down spot No. 89.

When the Bucs travel to New Orleans for the opener, Brady will be working on a streak of 18 consecutive games with one or zero interceptions. Under pressure, he’ll dump the ball off to a back or throw it away. He hates sacks … but he abhors interceptions.

With less than a month remaining before the season opener, he’s already thinking about ways to carve up a solid Saints defense. He’s also thinking about giving the Bucs a commodity they didn’t have for much of last season.

A fighting chance.

Bill Currie Ford
5815 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Tampa, FL 33614

Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford. Click on Ira to visit BillCurrieFord.com.

10 Responses to “A Fighting Chance”

  1. lambchop Says:

    Rather than risk aversion, Brady will not force balls into covered receivers. He’ll dump it off or throw it away. You shoot yourself in the foot even if you’re playing catch up, you only compound the problem by gifting points or field position to the other team.

  2. lambchop Says:

    *You don’t shoot yourself in the foot….

  3. Mike Says:

    This is what makes it all the more upsetting when the JW lovers want to blame everything other than him for his ousting. It was ultimately his own foolish risk taking that did him in, NOT anything else.

  4. '79 Defense Says:

    Man… this is getting scary. Buc-luck would point to him having a career year in int’s, and then some, maybe.

  5. Buczilla Says:

    Great article and spot on.

  6. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Jay Miss is the opposing defense’s best friend, and has been for 5 years. However, this year he won’t be since he’s a 3rd stringer. Clearly, 64 better QBs in the league than old Jay Miss!

  7. Jeffbuc Says:

    Yeah wasn’t good reading our upcoming opponents defense saying all week. That they just need to stay in there spots and jameis will throw them a couple. I would lien someone to watch the all 22 of every jameis game as a buc. I bet he holds the record for most defensive dropping of interceptions in a 5 year span of any qb in history. The over/under throws on 3rd down is what killed me the most. Driving and then 3 and 8 and insert receivers name is wide open and jameis sails it 6 yards over his head.i would bet money that the opposing defense dropped over 100 interceptions in jameis 5 year career here. 20 a season. Last year just got to the point where you just had to laugh at the interceptions. Everyone but one Joe and ndog were over it. Not 20 seconds into a game and he already threw a pick several times. On a play he knew they were going to run all week. On the first series.

  8. unbelievable Says:

    Jeffbuc you’ll be losing money if someone accepts that bet.

    Every QB benefits from “dropped interceptions”. That’s why those guys are DBs instead of WRs.

    I watch a ton of football and EVERY QB gets lucky like that, including Brady.

  9. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Agree with everything Ira said, and most of the posters as well.

    I’m not sure however that JW is actually a 3rd stringer. Clearly NOBODY replaces Brees if he can fasten his chin strap. But if Brees gets hurt I’m not sure Payton doesn’t keep Hill in his same position as spot QB for whichever QB starts.

    If it’s Brees..Hill spots him…if Brees is hurt perhaps JW gets the start and Hill spots him…keeping his original role? We don’t really know how Payton views JW.

    The Covid erased pre season hasn’t helped JW showcase his wares in NO’s offense…so Hill does have an advantage.

  10. grammarian Says:

    The worst thing IMHO is that Jameis had ZERO respect for his teammates or fans when he was “ballin, check yo sheet!” He is all about being a hero for himself and would throw away the ball (30INT; 7 pick 6) to the other team with giving a RATS arse that grown men were busting theirs for the past 4 hours…