When asked if he believes the Buccaneers could win with a different quarterback, Arians told reporters, "Another quarterback? Oh, yeah. [If] we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too. We're going to have this defense."
Arians' assessment of his signal-caller came one day after Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a single season. Winston also became only the eighth quarterback in league history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season, but opposing teams scored 112 points off his turnovers this year, the most in the league.
Arians said the Bucs weren't in position to bench Winston because of injuries. He indicated that if Winston returns, he would be given less slack.
"A big part of it was [backup] Blaine [Gabbert] getting hurt, and we had to find out [if] this was the franchise [quarterback]," Arians said. "We had to find out."
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, finished his rookie contract this season. The Buccaneers won't make an immediate decision on Winston's future, but Arians will meet with general manager Jason Licht and team ownership over the next few weeks.
"It will be a while," Arians said. "I would think in a few weeks we will have a decision on which way we want to head. Will we let it out? Probably not. Because you lose your leverage on that one, too. So it's 'stay tuned.'"
In 16 regular-season games, Winston completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 5,109 yards, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.