May 18, 2021

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Jameis Winston: Fearless Gunslinger OR Turnover Machine?

5 min read

That’s the BIG debate this season, isn’t it? Is Jameis Winston really the franchise quarterback that Tampa Bay needs for the future and will have to pay handsomely next year OR is he just another notch on the headboard of this organization whose been known to be a revolving door for NFL quarterbacks? The two sides in this debate couldn’t be any further apart. There’s the “Winstoneers” who is absolutely FOR him and blame all of his turnovers on everyone and everything else. The receiver ran the wrong route. The o-line didn’t give him enough time. The sun was in his eyes. The earth was rotating too fast on its axis. It’s always something or someone else and never Winston’s fault, and then there are the “Blame Jameis” ones who say that every single turnover is on him no matter what happened and just want him gone.

If you’ve been a Buccaneers fan for as long as I have, then the interceptions are nothing new to you. From Doug Williams, who threw 73 touchdowns and 73 interceptions in his five seasons with Tampa to Vinnie Testaverde, who threw 73 touchdowns and 112 interceptions in his five full seasons here. From Trent Dilfer, who threw 70 touchdowns and 80 interceptions in his five years as a starter to Josh Freeman, who had 80 touchdowns and 66 interceptions in his four years here. 

Buccaneers quarterbacks have always had tendencies to throw the ball to the other teams. So what Jameis Winston has done in his first five seasons is nothing new. In fact, we should be used to it by now.

The question is, are the turnovers really THAT big of an issue? Sure, he leads the NFL since he came into the league in 2015 with 100 of them, but that’s not the biggest reason for the Bucs 25-42 record since drafting him. There are plenty of other factors that we can point fingers at with this organization. Poor coaching. Bad defenses. No consistent running game. Terrible offensive line play. The list goes on and on. And so do the losing seasons. But should Jameis be the scapegoat? Football is the ultimate team sport for a reason. If one of the eleven guys on the field doesn’t do his job, then the whole play can fall apart. When enough plays fall apart, you lose football games. If Jameis and his offense put up 35 points, but the defense gives up 38 points, how is that his fault? I’m not saying that’s the case for every game, but the defense has been one of the worst in the league for his time here as well. It’s NOT all on him.

Ever since he entered the league, Winston has drawn comparisons to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I don’t agree with that. He may be similar to Big Ben in size, but his playing style reminds me more of Brett Favre. Jameis plays with that same kind of gunslinger’s mentality and youthful exuberance that Favre did. Like Favre, he never had a pass that he was afraid to attempt or saw a window that was too tight. Like Favre, he’s always looking for a way to make something out of nothing. Like Favre, he’s a playmaker.

Now before you start scoffing at the comparison of Jameis Winston to one of the greatest QB’s in NFL history, just take a look at the numbers (they never lie) from their first 5 seasons:

Average Completion %

Favre- 62% Winston- 62%

Yards Per Attempt

Favre- 7.0 Winston- 7.7

Yards Per Game

Favre- 237 Winston- 272

Average Attempts per Season

Favre- 538 Winston- 471

Games with 300+ yards

Favre- 14 Winston- 24

Games with 2+ touchdowns

Favre- 44 Winston- 34

Games with 2+ interceptions

Favre- 19 Winston- 22

TD%/INT %

Favre- 5.4/2.9 Winston- 4.7/3.4

Number of times sacked

Favre- 168 Winston- 158

Fumbles

Favre- 52 Winston- 49

Total Turnovers (Ints/Fumbles)

Favre- 129 Winston- 127

Overall Record

Favre- 51-28 Winston- 25-42

Brett Favre might be the biggest gunslinger QB of all-time, and as you can see, his numbers are very similar to Winston’s. Bucs fans want to complain about Winston’s fumbles, yet Favre had three more than he did at this point in his career with identical numbers of interceptions. And for those that say that it’s more of a passing league now than in Favre’s era, Winston has averaged nearly 70 attempts less per season than Favre. The biggest difference here is that Favre played with better teams, and his record shows it.

What about comparing what Jameis has done to another gunslinging quarterback and one of the greatest of all time Peyton Manning? Here’s how he stacks up to him in those same categories:

Average Completion %

Manning- 62% Winston- 62%

Yards Per Attempt

Manning- 7.3 Winston- 7.7

Yards Per Game

Manning- 259 Winston- 272

Average Attempts per Season

Manning- 563 Winston- 471

Games with 300+ yards

Manning- 20 Winston- 24

Games with 2+ touchdowns

Manning- 43 Winston- 34

Games with 2+ interceptions

Manning- 31 Winston- 22

TD%/INT%

Manning- 4.9/3.5 Winston- 4.7/3.4

Number of times sacked

Manning- 108 Winston- 158

Fumbles

Manning- 27 Winston- 49

Total Turnovers

Manning- 127 Winston- 127

Overall Record

Manning- 42-38 Winston- 25-42

Once again, the numbers are similar. The biggest complaint with Jameis is the turnovers, and they have the exact same number of them, except Manning has far more interceptions. Winston averages more yards per attempt and more yards per game on way fewer attempts per game, and the TD%/INT% numbers are nearly identical.

Now I’m not in any way, shape or form saying that Jameis Winston is or ever will be as good a quarterback as Peyton Manning or Brett Favre. Those guys are legends and Hall of Famers. However, my point here is that Jameis catches so much criticism for his turnovers, yet his totals are no different than two of the best to ever do it. With their fearless style of play, it’s going to happen. The issue really should be that the rest of the team and coaching staff haven’t performed up to the level that they have needed to over the last 5 seasons. Both Manning and Favre had winning records in their first 5 seasons DESPITE similar turnover numbers; just look at Sunday’s game as a perfect example. Winston threw two early picks against the Falcons, but the rest of the team stepped up, and they were able to overcome them and come out with a win. It’s NOT all on Jameis Winston.

After this season, Jason Licht and Bruce Arians will have to decide if Jameis Winston is worth paying $150 million over the next five to seven years. They will have to decide whether his good outweighs his bad. They’ll have to decide if he is this franchise’s future. The most frustrating thing about him is that he can make some of the most jaw-dropping, improbable throws you’ll ever see that will have you asking, “How did he get that in there?” and then throw a boneheaded interception on his next throw. But that’s what you get with a gunslinger at quarterback, and that is what the Bucs will have to live with IF Jameis Winston is their quarterback. We’ll know if they think it’s worth it soon enough.

Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!

 

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