- The Washington Times
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a decision to make soon with Jameis Winston nearing his return from a three-game suspension: Ride the hot hand in Ryan Fitzpatrick or start Winston, who the team drafted first overall in 2015. 

Wideout DeSean Jackson made his opinion clear Monday in an interview with the NFL Network.

(Spoiler: He chose the guy who wore Jackson’s pregame outfit in his postgame press conference.)

“He’s playing on fire right now,” Jackson said of Fitzpatrick. “With the way the team is rallying behind him and just playing lights-out football, you have to kind of honor it. You can’t take the hot man out. You got the hot fire right now. It’s like NBA Jam. We used to play NBA Jam — whoever got that hot fire shot, you got to keep shooting, man.

“It’s not my decision but I’m sure [coach] Dirk [Koetter] and coach [Todd] Monken and the guys that make those calls, they’ll make sure they stay on fire until that fire is out. We’re going to stay on fire. That’s our job, to stay on fire and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Winston is eligible to return after next week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Koetter told reporters no decision has been made on who will start moving forward.

But through two weeks, Fitzpatrick has been one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks — throwing for 819 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception en route to the Buccaneers’ 2-0 start.

This is a twist few, if any, saw coming. Fitzpatrick was only in this position because Winston was suspended in June for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, stemming from an incident in 2016 when the quarterback was accused of groping a female Uber driver.

Fitzpatrick, too, has helped revive Jackson’s career. After the former Redskins receiver had an up-and-down 2017, his first year in Tampa Bay, Jackson has 275 yards and three touchdowns to start the season. Jackson had just 668 yards last year.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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