Buccaneers to start Jameis Winston over Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. 49ers

ByJenna Laine ESPN logo
Monday, November 19, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start quarterback Jameis Winston this week against the San Francisco 49ers, a source told ESPN on Monday.

Winston stepped in Sunday in the third quarter against the New York Giants after Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions, including a pick-six. Winston finished the game 12-of-16 for 199 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Bucs lost to the Giants 38-35.

"He played better," coach Dirk Koetter said of Winston's performance. "He got us into the end zone four straight times. ... For the most part, he made good decisions with the football."

It's the fourth quarterback change the Bucs have made this year, including when Winston served a three-game suspension to start the season for a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, stemming from an alleged groping incident involving a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016.

Koetter acknowledged that the constant change has been disruptive for both quarterbacks.

"Of course. Both those guys would rather play the whole time," he said. "How much has it been disruptive to everyone else? That's difficult to say. Our quarterback play as been spectacular at times and not good enough at times. That's just the story of where we're at on offense right now.

"Almost every game, we get some beautiful, beautiful play at quarterback -- some great throws, some tremendous decision-making, some beautiful adjustments -- but other times, we've gotten some bad decision-making which has resulted in turnovers. That's hurt our team."

Much has been made about Winston's $20.9 million option and the risk the Bucs run by playing him, should he get injured, but Koetter said that no one in the front office has directed him not to play Winston.

Koetter also said he was unsure whether the Bucs would get to a point this season where they'd stick to one quarterback.

"You're asking me to predict the future, and unfortunately I can't do that," Koetter said. "I never go into it thinking it's a week-to-week thing, but I think continuity is a cop-out. We've got capable quarterbacks. There's no reason they can't play consistent football. I've seen them do it. I know they can do it."

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