If the man holding the proverbial wheel for the Buccaneers can’t see out the windshield long enough to know which turn to take, then the trip is doomed before it pulls out of the garage.
Get the metaphor?
Protect Jameis Winston. Period.
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Run blocking is great, but this isn’t a running league. It’s a passing one. And leading into Week 13, the Bucs didn’t have a bad pass protection group up front. Still, Winston got hurt, and some of the effects of the line went unnoticed. At a minimum, their impact was minimized.
Now, Winston is back, and in all appearances his shoulder looked fine in Week 14. So, in true Tampa fashion, he lost all of his pass protection and spent most of his time in Green Bay under fire.
The result? A quarterback who was energized from the learning he’d accomplished by watching veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick play in his stead, was reduced to an instinct based player leaning on old habits. Bad habits.
His overthrows, the fumble, all of it. Byproducts of bad pass blocking.
Shoulder troubles notwithstanding, Andrew Luck was one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the NFL. The next Peyton Manning even. Now, because the Colts couldn’t give him an offensive line worth a crap, he may never be the same again and is hoping to reach Kirk Cousins levels before the end of this decade.
Winston displayed early in Green Bay some of the attributes we’d all been hoping to see in his third season. Patience, full field vision, and check down throws to set up the long ball. It was magnificent. Until it wasn’t.
NFL linemen have to be able to pass protect before everything else, and these guys didn’t get it done last Sunday.
They have to get it done this weekend, if the Buccaneers have any chance to win.