TAMPA, Fla. - Jameis Winston is making a run at saving his job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the highly productive receiving tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin is helping him.
Winston’s franchise-record sixth consecutive game with at least 300 yards passing keyed a victory over Atlanta that lifted the Bucs (4-7) out of the NFC South cellar. It also leaves the No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft ranked among the NFL leaders in some encouraging - as well as discouraging - categories.
By season’s end, coach Bruce Arians has to determine if the good outweighs the bad.
Winston is in the final season of the contract he signed as a rookie, earning nearly $21 million. Arians was lured out of retirement to work with the 25-year-old quarterback, who’s thrown a league-leading 20 interceptions and also lost four fumbles through 11 games.
What a lot of people may not have noticed is the fifth-year pro is second in the NFL with 3,391 yards passing, as well as second with 22 touchdown passes.
Arians concedes it’s not easy to balance the positive and negative for week to week. Winston has 19 turnovers over the past six games.
“Like I said, that’s why I don’t have any hair,” the 67-year-old coach, who’s worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer during a long coaching career, said. “We’ve got to get rid of the bad – the really bad.”
Evans and Godwin, meanwhile, are enjoying stellar seasons and helping Winston state his case for remaining in Tampa Bay beyond this season. Both receivers went over 1,000 yards for the year during Sunday’s 35-22 victory over the Falcons. Godwin has 70 receptions for 1,071 yards and nine TDs, while Evans has 62 catches for 1,043 yards and seven TDs.
“It was kind of cool to see both of them go over 1,000 on the same day,” Winston said.
Godwin and Evans rank second and third, respectively, behind Michael Thomas (1,242) in receiving yards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.