By Grant Gordon
Published: March 8, 2019 at 08:46 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2019 at 08:21 a.m.
The arrival of Bruce Arians as the newest coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Kangol-hatted offensive guru proclaimed that the franchise quarterback going forward was Jameis Winston.
On top of that, he also wants speedster DeSean Jackson back at receiver.
Alas, Jackson’s time in Tampa seemed likely to be coming to a conclusion, perhaps even with him being cut. Where Jackson will land is likely to come to fruition in the coming weeks as the NFL’s new calendar year begins on Wednesday.
However, despite a perceived lack of chemistry on the field between the two, Winston said he wants Jackson back with the Bucs.
“He’s still one of the best deep-threat targets in the NFL,” Winston said Friday on NFL Total Access, “and I hope he comes back.”
Winston mentioned that he has spoken with Jackson in the offseason and while he relayed his desire to bring back the big-play wideout, his comments on DJax couldn’t all exactly be construed as puppies and rainbows.
“We talked briefly,” Winston said. “And the thing about having a guy like DeSean Jackson; he’s passionate, he wants to win. When you have a guy like that, really winning and losing really separates how he’s going to react. He wants to be an important part in winning football games and he knows that he is a very important piece to winning football games. So if we were winning, he’s a selfless individual and he’s fine. But when you’re losing and the guy feels like he’s not getting taking advantage of, of course he’s going to have something to say. That’s just his make-up.”
Over the opening four games of the 2018 season, Jackson was in prime form, hauling in three touchdowns and three 100-yard receiving games. Those four games were all under the Fitzmagic umbrella, though.
Winston was serving a suspension for the first three games with Ryan Fitzpatrick getting the starts. After Winston returned, the Bucs were a mercurial team offensively and a struggling franchise overall, finishing with a 5-11 record.
After Week 4, Jackson had just one more touchdown catch — a 60-yarder from Winston in Week 7 — and never had another 100-yard game.
Perhaps more telling were Winston’s comments when talking about playing in an Arians offense.
“When you look at B.A.’s offense, you always see a speed demon, you see a great guy, a possession guy, a guy that makes all your great plays like he had with Larry Fitzgerald,” Winston said. “We have that with Mike Evans and it’s going to be very unique to see Mike get moved around and set him up in different matchups for our advantage.”
The reference to a speed demon seemed to be headed toward Jackson, but Evans is very much the total package at receiver and it would seem like the guy Winston is looking to in just about every capacity. Which isn’t all that surprising considering Evans is a phenomenal talent.
Jackson is heading into the final season of his current contract and Winston said he wants him back, but the two just never seemed to click consistently in Tampa, so if Jackson returns or speeds out of town is a storyline to continue to follow.
For Winston, though, he has his eyes forward looking to turn things around in 2019 after a very forgettable 2018.
“We get an opportunity to go out there and change our fans’ perspective,” he said.