Over the weekend, it was brought to the football world's attention that there's tension in Tampa Bay between quarterback Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter. Even though Winston has since denied the rift -- about the offense's poor performances this season -- with his head coach, there's definitely some trouble in the water. And let me remind you that the Buccaneers fired Lovie Smith just to keep Koetter as Winston's guy in the organization.
Honestly, I get why there's frustration in the building. While Winston has talent, leadership ability (although that is not always delivered well) and a desire to win, the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft lacks in decision-making, accuracy and knowledge of situational football. In his first two NFL seasons, Winston threw a total of 33 interceptions and didn't complete more than 61 percent of his passes in either year. During "Hard Knocks" in the 2017 preseason, we saw this issue come to the fore once again when Koetter got after Winston on the sideline:
"Jameis, you're f-----' playing a great game. You're playing a great game. And then your greed takes over. If this is real football, that's so f-----' stupid. ... You're so much better than that. You're so much better."
Four months later, nothing's changed. The Bucs were one of the most hyped-up teams in the preseason. Now, Winston's inconsistency has defined the Bucs' 4-9 record. The quarterback -- who also missed three weeks with a shoulder injury -- is completing just 62.6 percent of his passes (19th in the NFL), with a 14:8 TD-to-INT ratio and a passer rating of 89.7 (18th). Even with all of the weapons at his disposal (Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard), the Bucs have struggled to get into the end zone (23rd in scoring).
Winston's lack of on-field growth under Koetter might lead to an organizational makeover far before the Super Bowl is played in Tampa Bay in 2021. If Winston doesn't show improvement over the final three weeks of this season, with both parties not seeing eye to eye, something's got to change, and it's likely Koetter will be the first to go (possibly after this season). Winston will get another chance to improve in these aspects under a new coach/mentor, but he must do it quickly.
Winston will be on his rookie contract through 2018 (with a fifth-year option in 2019). I think the Bucs will give him one year with a new coach to prove he's their franchise quarterback for the long haul. For Winston to get rid of old habits and make the changes that'll take him to the next level, he'll need to work with someone whose offensive scheme is structured. Winston's a solid quarterback, but he will never be great until his situational football is better than his physical play.
Winston's running out of time. If there's not a noticeable improvement, he could have a new home before too long.
Each week in the 2017 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. Now, let's get to it -- the Week 15 pecking order is below.
JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 15: