The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will shut down injured quarterback Jameis Winston for "a few weeks," head coach Dirk Koetter announced on Monday.
Winston did not play in the second half of the Bucs' 30-10 loss at the New Orleans Saints — their fifth loss in a row that dropped Tampa Bay to 2-6 in a season that opened with so much promise. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who took over for Winston in the second half of Sunday's loss, will start in his place beginning with Week 10 against the New York Jets.
It will be the first missed start for Winston, who started all 40 games since the Buccaneers used the first pick of the 2015 NFL draft on him.
Winston first injured his shoulder in the 38-33 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and he also was replaced by Fitzpatrick there. The AC joint sprain has caused Winston to miss practice time ever since, typically preventing him from throwing most days leading up to games.
In the past four games since the injury, Winston has completed 65-of-105 passes for 722 yards, three TD passes and three interceptions. Most of that production (and all of the TD passes) came in the Week 8 loss to the Buffalo Bills, in which Winston gamely tried to rally the Bucs back but could not.
On Sunday, Winston completed 7-of-13 for 63 yards with no touchdowns or no interceptions. His most infamous contribution to the game was poking the helmet of Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, setting off a skirmish — highlighted by Mike Evans' cheap-shot shove on Lattimore. Evans will be subject to league discipline for the event, but Winston defended his reaction after Lattimore pushed him.
The Bucs host the Jets (and former Bucs QB Josh McCown) Sunday, followed by three straight road games — at the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers, all playoff teams last season and all at .500 or above currently. Tampa Bay's bye week was supposed to land in Week 11, but Hurricaine Irma pushed it up to Week 1, when the Dolphins game was rescheduled.
Winston had X-rays on his shoulder following Sunday's loss and no new damage was detected. Still, Koetter felt he had to rest his franchise QB until the joint healed better with more rest.
Asked after the game if he thought he might be shut down for the season, Winston said: "I don't control that at all. My job is to get better. That's my job. I have to do that. I'm not doing a good job right now."
The Buccaneers will activate QB Ryan Griffin from injured reserve, and he'll back up Fitzpatrick until Winston is cleared for activity. But if the Bucs keep losing, the smart move — especially in light of Andrew Luck's two-year shoulder pain landing him on IR this season for the Indianapolis Colts — might be to shut Winston down entirely for 2017.