It’s been four years since the second year GM, Jason Licht, drafted the presumed Franchise player in Jameis Winston. During those four years, Bucs fans have been stuck on a roller coaster of emotions. Great players would soon to be followed by head-scratching mistakes. Streaks of high-octane offensive dominance would come to a screeching halt with a multi-turnover special. Performances that were so bad it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say they destroyed any momentum for a winning season. There’s no doubt Jameis Winston has the talent. He’s played on the big stage in college. And won. He’s competed against the best in the NFL. And won. Now, he’s on his third Head Coach and probably one of the best rosters he’s ever had in Tampa Bay. It’s time to put up or shut up.
First, let’s get the fluff stats out of the way. In only four years as Tampa Bay’s Quarterback, Jameis is already in the upper echelon of Tampa Bay history. He’s second behind Testaverde in yards (14,628), first in Passing Touchdowns (88) and fifth in completion percentage (61.1% minimum 200 attempts). He also owns the fourth most interceptions in franchise history. This, as well as the team’s records, has overshadowed his personal achievements. And rightfully so. All the trophies and medals mean nothing if you don’t have at least a division championship to show for it.
Despite loads of confidence given to Jameis, General Manager Jason Licht and Coach Arians decided to exercise Winston’s fifth-year option instead of extending him. If Jameis doesn’t show return for his number one overall draft pick capital in the final year of his contract, we could be looking at the 2020 draft for the next Franchise QB in Tampa Bay. For now, let’s see how Jameis can avoid that.
Reduce the Turnovers
In four years as a professional, Winston has ninety-six total turnovers. That is twenty-four a year which catastrophically bad and makes life extremely difficult for the defense to recover from. Especially when in the red zone. Let’s put this in perspective just from an interception standpoint with fellow NFC South Quarterbacks in 2018.
- Drew Brees – 5 INT’s
- Matt Ryan – 7 INTS
- Cam Newton – 13 INT’s
- Jameis Winston (in only 11 games ) – 14 INT’s
That’s 1.27 interceptions thrown per game. And we haven’t included the fumbles. Now, just so we don’t appear to completely dump on our quarterback, there are plays that could have caused a turnover but Jameis turned it into a highlight reel play that resulted in a shift in the game. So we can’t play both sides of the issue, as fans I know we will.
The Deep Ball
What was a noticeable difference between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick last year? Being able to hit the $10 Million dollar receiver downfield for big plays. The silver lining here was that we know Jameis can throw the ball deep. The problem was he threw it too far. Even for a speedster like Desean Jackson. I think that the fear of underthrowing for a possible interception got into his head too much and he felt it was better to overthrow than underthrow. That fear lead Desean out of town and a wasted contract with a volatile yet talented receiver. Jameis can put the ball 50 yards downfield with little effort. Putting in a place for his receiver to catch it will put this already red hot offense over the hill.
Lastly, and most importantly, Jameis needs to let Coach Arians take over. The mistake that we saw with Coach Koetter was that Jameis was given a long leash and wasn’t really reined in when he went rogue. This is not what Arians is known for. Thankfully, he is also known to be a great quarterbacks coach.
As long as Jameis plays above average this season I think we will see a Franchise tag for him. Coach Arians has emphatically stated that he is the future quarterback of this team and I am inclined to believe him. That being said, if things go south and fast, we could start to hear the tank for Tua chants and Licht may have to oblige.