What would Buccaneers’ record be if Jameis Winston was still QB?

New Orleans Saints, Jameis Winston, former quarterback for the Buccaneers Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints, Jameis Winston, former quarterback for the Buccaneers Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

What would the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ record be if they had stuck to their guns at quarterback?

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston will be making his first start of the season with the New Orleans Saints this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons and that will certainly garner the attention of many Tampa Bay fans.

Winston, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Buccaneers just a few years ago, was not given a contract extension earlier this offseason and ended up signing a deal to be the backup in New Orleans, behind Drew Brees.

Brees suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung that will have him out of action for quite some time and that means we’ll get to see Winston in meaningful snaps for the first time since he left Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers, as we know, chose to sign veteran QB Tom Brady to a two-year deal and they are now currently sitting in second-place behind the Saints in the NFC South Division and have a 7-3 overall record, well on their way to locking up a berth in the postseason.

But it certainly begs the question: What if the Bucs had kept Winston? Where would they be at currently?

The Buccaneers would still be in the wild-card race with Winston, but they wouldn’t be legitimate Super Bowl contenders

Let’s go ahead and start by saying this: If the Bucs don’t get Tom Brady, they’re not getting Rob Gronkowski. That means that when O.J. Howard goes down with a season-ending injury that Cameron Brate is your starting tight end and you’re likely seeing Jordan Leggett– who was cut- play meaningful snaps.

Let’s say everything else stays the same, though: The defensive pieces, the draft choices and the additions of Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown.

Where is Winston at in terms of stats and what do the Bucs look like after 10 games? 

Winston apologists will say that the Bucs would have the same or better record with Winston. Winston haters would say that the Bucs likely don’t have a winning record with Winston. In my opinion, it’s somewhere in between.

He’s not beating the Saints either time with all performances- defense, etc.- staying the same. That’s already two losses. You’ve got to imagine the turnover problem costs the Bucs at least one more loss and, in my opinion, without the leadership of Tom Brady and the veterans, you’re probably looking at another loss in the ‘snowball effect.’ For example, the Bucs lose the game to the Bears on Thursday night, but they don’t rebound with Winston at the helm and they lose a second-straight game to the Packers the next weekend.

It’s also not as if Brady has missed on a ton of passing attempts that Winston would’ve hit on, either. As a matter of fact, teams have had to be more locked in to defending Brady’s accuracy than Winston’s arm strength.

In the end, it’s a hypothetical that we won’t ever know the answer to, but I believe the record is somewhere in the realm of 5-5 or 6-4 with Winston at the helm instead of Brady. The Buccaneers would still be in the playoff hunt, but things certainly wouldn’t be looking as positive. It should be noted that there’s a major difference- in terms of standings, playoff races and projectability- between 6-4 and 7-3 through the first 10 games.

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The overall difference between Winston and Brady is their leadership. Brady is able to help refocus this team. The Bucs have rebounded after every single disappointing loss this season. That simply wasn’t the case with Winston, on the other hand.