In a previous article, I talked at great length about why Jameis Winston will become the next $30 million dollar man along with the likes of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Seattle’s Russell Wilson. When you compare their stats through the first four years of their careers, you see that they are almost all three identical in almost every category.
Yet, for some reason, there are a handful of fans among the hundreds of thousands of Buccaneer fans around the world, who still seem to be in the camp of Jameis Winston being a bust and needing replaced immediately, which coincidentally, is the same camp that not too long ago, happened to place an order of fruit punch from Jonestown.
The reason I decided to delve into another article on the stats and ability of Jameis isn’t because of this small handful of disgruntled fans, but rather because of an article put out questioning if Jameis will revive his career and earn a long-term extension, and you know that at Bucs Life News, we don’t like leaving unanswered questions, so here I am to not, only answer if Jameis will earn a long-term extension, but to explain both why he should and why he will.
Yes, Jameis Winston will receive a long-term contract extension from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We already know there will be a few exasperated sighs from the fruit punch drinkers that will never admit when Jameis accomplishes something, but instead would rather make every effort to ensure as many people as possible know just how miserable they are with Jameis at the helm, even when he has proven that statistically, he is best quarterback this side of Steve Young to have ever been a Buccaneer.
One of the biggest gripes about Winston has been his turnovers, specifically in regards to his interceptions.
I’ll admit that 58 interceptions through the first 4 years of a career aren’t exactly stellar, but then we take a look at Peyton Manning, who let’s face it, ran an offense like nobody we’ve ever seen before. If you gander at the first 4 years as Omaha-Omaha, you can’t help but notice his interceptions as well. The difference between the two, however, is that through the same time frame, Peyton Manning actually threw 81 interceptions, which is 23 more interceptions than Jameis. When you break that down, Manning, one of the greatest of all time, threw so many more interceptions through his first 4 years, that you could add an entire season to Winston’s numbers and he still wouldn’t have as many interceptions.
If we’re going simply based off of interceptions, then using that logic, Peyton Manning is a worse starting quarterback than Jameis Winston.
Now, we all know that Peyton Manning is one of the best to ever play the game, so I’m certainly not stating that Jameis is a better quarterback at this point in his career, but it does go to show you that interceptions don’t always give a clear picture of the situation.
When we take a step back and expand the interception picture, we again find that Manning isn’t the only legendary quarterback who threw more interceptions through four seasons than Jameis as Packer’s legend Brett Favre and Dolphin’s legend Dan Marino also both threw more than Jameis through their first four seasons with 64 and 74 compared to Jameis who managed a little better than both.
Marino, Manning, and Favre are all three considered among the best to ever play the game and yet they all three had more interceptions than Jameis, yet nobody is saying Manning was a bust or Marino is garbage. In fact, Winston’s 58 interceptions put him right on par with even more great names who had very similar interception numbers through their first four seasons, including Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and the man who many (myself not included) consider the greatest to ever play the game, Tom Brady, who all ranged from 52-55 interceptions through their first 4 seasons.
If we’re going to use Jameis’ interception numbers as a reason to say he needs to be replaced, then we’re also going to have to get rid of some of the biggest names in football today. Good luck convincing their respective fan bases of that decision, as I have a feeling it won’t go over too well.
Now that we’ve established his interception numbers aren’t a reason to release him or not offer him a long-term extension, then passing yards must be the reason right? Surely a quarterback who has thrown as many picks as Winston wouldn’t have the passing yards necessary to stack up to the competition right?
When we look at passing yards through the first four years of their careers, we see that Jameis has more passing yards than not only Matty Ice and Russell Wilson, but also more passing yards than Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady while just barely trailing Favre and Luck. Not only does Jameis have fewer interceptions than Brady through his first four years, but he has more passing yards than Brady and more than 2,000 passing yards more than future hall of fame quarterback Drew Brees.
If it’s not interceptions, and it’s not passing yards, then most certainly it has to be the overall passing game, because there just has to be some reason Winston isn’t deserving of a long-term extension. Except, even looking at the overall passing game of the Buccaneers doesn’t support that theory.
Last season, the Buccaneers offense was one of the best in the league in converting 3rd downs at an almost 50% conversion rate, which translated to them being the 2nd best team in the league in earning first downs, and the number one team in the league when it came to passing for first downs. The success doesn’t stop there though, as the Buccaneers would go on to have the number one passing attack in the league based on total net yards, 2nd in the league in yards per attempt, and they managed to set a new team record for the highest single-season passing yardage average since the team was founded. Along with the success of the overall passing game, Winston posted a pass rating of 140.7 on all plays in which he scrambled prior to throwing the ball, which was the best among EVERY single Quarterback in the NFL who threw at least 5 passes, including Mahomes.
I don’t know about you, but to me, these don’t sound like the stats of a team that had trouble passing the ball in the least bit, so we’ve also ruled that out as a cause of just why Jameis isn’t deserving of a long-term extension and a $30 million dollar payday.
This quickly narrows it down to only two other areas where one could even think to begin looking for a reason to gripe, overall team record and a lack of post-season victories. Though, are those two things really an issue for Winston himself, or are they overall team issues?
While the quarterback is usually the one credited for the wins and blamed for the losses, we all realize that no one player makes it all happen and that there is more to it than simply throwing the ball around.
One of the areas that Jameis has absolutely no control over, is the work of the Buccaneers defense. A defense, that had the worst defensive touchdown efficiency in the league and in fact posted the worst defensive touchdown efficiency since the turn of the century. That’s the worst in the league in almost 2 decades. Surely this is one area that everyone can agree Winston can’t be held responsible for and would most definitely have a negative impact on how the team performs week in and week out.
Not only was the Buccaneers defense the worst team in the league when it came to stopping their opponents from scoring, but they also became one of the worst teams in the league in creating turnovers, and even went almost two full months with causing their opponents to only turnover the ball 1 measly time. If we’re not able to stop the opposing team from scoring, and we’re not able to take the ball away from the opposition, it obviously can’t be a good thing for the offense as they are forced to play from behind in almost every game.
If they were unable to create turnovers, and they were unable to stop their opponents from scoring, then surely the Buccaneers were simply blown out each week on the scoreboard right?
The Buccaneers had 9 out of their 16 games decided by one score or less and five of those were within 3 points. Ahem, kicker? This might be why GM Jason Licht decided to once again target a kicker in the draft by taking Matt Gay, as if the Bucs were able to create just a few more turnovers or hit just a few more field goals, it’s quite possible that they could have finished the season with a league-best 14-2 record rather than riding the bottom of the division at 5-11.
If the Bucs had finished with the best record in the league, would Jameis receiving a long-term extension even be a question?
If we can assume that his extension would be guaranteed with a 14-2 record last season, is it fair to shoulder him with the sole blame given we can easily see where a defense stepping up and a kicker doing his job could have easily turned it into a completely different season?
I know, you’re still asking what about his turnovers?
Almost half of Winston’s interceptions came inside the redzone. That’s 6+ opportunities to score that we simply gave away by giving the ball to the other team, but again, is it all on Jameis?
The Buccaneers didn’t have a running back rush for a touchdown until week 7 last season, and had a running back that managed to only touch the ball 23 times. A running back, that has impressed not only his teammates but also the new coaching staff, which makes one wonder why the previous staff wasn’t smart enough to use RoJo when they clearly had a tremendous talent at their disposal, but that’s a question for another time.
If we obviously weren’t committed to the run, and we obviously chose not to establish a running game, then it should come as no surprise that the Buccaneers chose to constantly pass the ball anytime they were inside the red zone. This may have been from some deep-rooted fear that the running backs would be unable to punch it in and score, but in reality, what it did was tip-off the opposing teams that we were going to be passing.
Once the Buccaneers entered the red zone, opposing coaches found their jobs to get a little easier, as they were able to defend the pass in every situation without a fear that we would make them pay by running the ball. When a defense knows you’re going to be passing every time you’re inside the 20, they’re able to create a game plan geared towards creating interceptions and stopping the pass. If we implement a running game that causes opposing defenses to play against both the pass and the run, it considerably reduces their chances of picking off Jameis and in turn, causes a drastic reduction in his red zone interceptions.
If we take 6 of those red zone interceptions away, suddenly his interception numbers don’t look that bad.
This isn’t to say that Jameis doesn’t share some of the blame for not only close games but also some of the losses, but to look at not only his numbers through the first four seasons of his career along with the numbers put up by the Buccaneers as a whole, it’s not only evident that Jameis isn’t to blame for everything that goes wrong and for every loss the Buccaneers see, but that in many cases, Jameis is the reason we were close in so many games, and that continuing on the path he’s on, Jameis is poised to put his name among some of the all-time greats including Manning, Brees, Favre, Marino, and Brady.
Oh, and if the fact he’s yet to win a playoff game is now your sole reason for discrediting what he’s accomplished, then you might want to throw that out as well since Carson Palmer, Archie Manning, YA Tittle, Neil Lomax, and Sonny Jurgensen all finished their careers without ever winning a playoff game, and we saw Dan Marino retire as one of the best to ever play the game without ever winning a Super Bowl.
The stats don’t lie, Jameis is exactly where he should be at this point in his career, and he’s statistically among some of the best to ever play the game. The Buccaneers have an offense that is one of the best in the league when it comes to passing the ball, and they have proven to be a team that can keep games within striking distance. With a revamped defense and an incredibly accurate kicker, many of the close games will swing towards the Buccaneers.
There is no reason to assume that there won’t be a long-term contract extension in the neighborhood of $30 million dollars, except for maybe a personal hatred for Famous Jameis that isn’t based on his performance on the field, but rather your own bias towards greatness. Perhaps even some of you enjoy the title of perennial loser, underdogs, and bottom of the division, but I know I don’t and Jameis most certainly doesn’t.
Don’t take my word for it though, let’s see what others have had to say about the NFL’s next $30 million dollar man.
Former Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden –
“He’s got great charisma, he’s a rare talent!”
Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians –
“He has the unteachable ability of the top-notch NFL quarterbacks. There’s no reason he can’t be really, really successful.”
Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich –
“He’s a playmaker, he’s been a playmaker from the second he got in this league.”
There is only one starting quarterback in the NFL with these kinds of statistics, and he plays for your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some call him Famous Jameis, while others call him Jaboo, and others simply Jameis or Winston.
No matter what name you call him, one thing is clear, you’d better put some respect on his name.