Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Titans’ Marcus Mariota crashing at same time

The former 1-2 draft picks are draft-bust brothers.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, seen running runs onto the field before the team's game against the Panthers in London, may be running out of time with Tampa Bay. Tim Ireland  |  AP
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, seen running runs onto the field before the team's game against the Panthers in London, may be running out of time with Tampa Bay. Tim Ireland | AP
Published October 22
Updated October 22

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, together again.

All they are is dust in the wind.

Yes, it’s Bust Bowl Week.

It’s Bucs at Titans, time to take a trip down memory sewer and give it the old 1-2, or it is the old 2-1? Or what were Tampa Bay and Tennessee thinking when they fought for a franchise quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft?

The Bucs, then under Lovie Smith, went so far as to tank to get their man, though they were so bad to begin with, we could hardly tell. But they landed a No. 1 and chose Winston, a Heisman winner and national champion out of Florida State.

Couldn’t miss.

Tennessee quickly pounced on No. 2: Mariota, a Heisman winner out of Oregon.

Couldn’t miss.

But they have, both of them, missed as badly as can’t misses can, so badly that they are simultaneously disintegrating, to the point where Mariota won’t even start Sunday, having been benched for Ryan Tannehill.

We might be looking at the greatest 1-2 combined QB bust in draft history. Yes, history.

Who can forget Sept. 13, 2015, when Winston and Mariota made their NFL debuts against each other. Mariota threw four touchdowns as Tennessee routed Tampa Bay. On his first NFL pass, Winston threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) watches from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) James Kenney  |  AP
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) watches from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) James Kenney | AP

But Mariota has caught up, or down. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore who the Bucs or Titans took. They both would have been wrong. That Winston and Mariota went 1 and 2 at all seems the joke. Their careers speak to down-the-board talent. Each is at a crossroads, each in the team-option year of their contracts. And it seems like it’s time for each man to hit the road.

Winston is coming off five interceptions and six turnovers in London. On the same day, Mariota got the hook after he went just 7-of-18 for 63 yards and two interceptions in a shutout loss to Denver.

The worst 1-2 QB bust. Ever.

Winston is 23-37 as a starter. Mariota is 29-32. Mariota has won a playoff game. Winston hasn’t been in a postseason.

That takes in a lot of ground. There have been any number of NFL drafts that have included no quarterback taken in the first round. And how do you call this a worse first-round bust than 2007, when JaMarcus “Point me to the bakery” Russell went No. 1 and Brady Quinn went NO. 22 to Cleveland.

But this 1-2 bust beats the others. Seven other times in the Super Bowl era have QBs gone 2-1 in a draft.

This is the worst.

There was 2016, the year after Winston and Mariota, when Jared Goff went No. 1 to the Rams and Carson Wentz went No. 2 to the eagles. So far, so good.

There was 2012, Andrew Luck at No. 1 and Robert Griffin III at 2. Griffin flamed out from injuries and Luck’s elite career was done in by them too, but he’s no bust.

1999 shows promised. Tim Couch was el-busto at No. 1. But No. 2 was Donovan McNabb, who had a near Hall-of-Fame career.

In 1998, Ryan Leaf was an atrocity at No. 2 It was left to No. 1 to save the honor of that class. Guy did okay too. I think his name was Peyton Manning.

In 1993, Drew Bledsoe was taken first and enjoyed a successful NFL career. Rick Mirer? Not so much after being taken second.

And there was 1971, when Jim Plunkett went first, Archie Manning went second. Two very good NFL careers.

So, you see, there is always someone who turns out good enough in the old 1-2 mix. Until now. Winston and Mariota are both still having growing pains that they should have grown out of by now. They’ve had more than enough chances.

You know, Amari Cooper went fourth in that draft. Todd Gurley went 10th. I’m just saying.

You can’t blame the Bucs and Titans for having needed a quarterback in 2015.

That they still need one is the real story.

All they are is dust in the wind.

Make way for the Bust Bowl.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.

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