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Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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Bucs-Steelers: No wrong answer for Tampa Bay at quarterback

TAMPA — So this should be a fun week over at One Buc Place.

Who's the quarterback?

That question will be asked a few times this week.

This question will be asked a few dozen times:

Who should be the quarterback?

The debate will rage on. We'll talk about it. You'll talk about. ESPN will talk about it. Everyone will have an opinion. And there are good arguments to be made on both sides.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has the hot hand. Has a Bucs quarterback ever had a better start? Fitzpatrick has been so good that he now has the coolest nickname in football this side of Crazy Legs: FitzMagic.

But Fitzpatrick is like 87 years old and isn't the quarterback of the future.
Jameis Winston is your quarterback of the future. Right?

Uh, right?

Actually, maybe not. Winston has had enough issues off the field and just enough issues on it that you have to believe there have been detailed conversations inside the really big and especially swanky offices at One Buc Place about whether the Bucs should sign him to a long-term deal.

Once upon a time, Winston seemed like the franchise quarterback the Bucs have been searching for all these years. Now there are as many doubters as believers. Once upon a time seems like a long, long time ago. Winston has gone from No. 1 pick to No. 1 enigma.

Maybe he's a future Bucs star. Maybe he's a future former Buc. But that he was the team's first overall draft pick in 2015 hardly matters anymore.

Nothing is a guarantee in this league. Just ask the suddenly stumbling Patriots. Just ask the Vikings, who are still trying to figure out how the hapless Bills went to Minnesota the other day and stole their lunch money.

Just ask the team that visited Tampa Bay on Monday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a model franchise when it comes to stability and class. But these days, their locker room is a train wreck full of disgruntled passengers.

And where you were taken in the draft doesn't guarantee you a starting job.
So that brings us back to Tampa Bay and the Bucs and this quarterback situation.

Fitz or Jameis? Who's the quarterback the rest of this season?

Who is the quarterback next season? Fitz or Jameis or neither? Is it someone currently suited up for another NFL team? Is it a quarterback currently on a college campus?

Yeah, should be a fun week at One Bucs Place.

But if you're a Bucs fan, the best part of this controversy is that the answer actually matters. That's because the Bucs are relevant.

Remember a couple of years ago when the big question was whether the starting quarterback was going to be Josh McCown or Mike Glennon? And ultimately the answer was: Who cares?

Remember all those years when the Bucs didn't have even one good quarterback to pick from, let alone two? When you have a quarterback controversy, it isn't because you have two good quarterbacks. It's because you don't have even one.

Not so with this edition of the Bucs. The Bucs have two guys who have proven at times that they can play in this league.

This time the answer matters because this time the Bucs are good. Certainly good enough that good quarterback play could ultimately lead to a postseason spot, something that hasn't happened in these parts in a decade.

So who will it be, Fitz or Jameis?

For now, the job belongs to Fitzpatrick, and it should stay that way, at least through next weekend's game at Chicago. What Fitzpatrick has done so far has earned him the right to keep playing.

Can Fitzpatrick keep it up, or will he eventually fade back into what he has been for most of his career: a backup-type quarterback?

Eventually, Winston, I'm guessing, will get his chance. Until he does, everyone around here will keep asking:

Who is the starting quarterback?

For the first time in a long time, there might not be a wrong answer.

And that's a good thing.

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