Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter on Monday confirmed Jameis Winston will be the starting quarterback in the Buccaneers’ next game, Oct. 14 at Atlanta.
Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first player to throw for more than 400 yards in three consecutive games, leading the Buccaneers to a 2-1 start while Winston served a suspension. But Winston played the entire second half of Sunday’s 48-10 loss to Chicago.
“Jameis Winston is the guy that’s going to be here way longer than I am,” Koetter said of the 2015 No. 1 pick. “He needs to be playing and he will unless he gets hurt.”
Fitzpatrick, 35, said he understands the move.
“What I said to my Dad after how Week 1 went, and Week 2 and Week 3, was basically either I’m going to win the NFL MVP this year or I’ll be back on the bench at some point,” said Fitzpatrick, who’s thrown for 1,356 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Jacksonville is preparing to play without running back Leonard Fournette again, maybe even for a longer stretch than before.
Fournette reinjured his right hamstring in Sunday’s 31-12 victory over the New York Jets, and coach Doug Marrone has no timetable for his return. Considering Fournette missed two and a half games after initially hurting it and came back too soon, the Jaguars (3-1) could be more cautious.
Fournette has 71 yards in 20 carries. In his place, T.J. Yeldon has 205 yards and a touchdown in 49 carries.
Quarterback Blake Bortles might be the biggest beneficiary, forced to carry more of the load. Bortles threw for a career-high 388 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets, giving him two games with at least 375 yards in the last three weeks.