TAMPA, Fla. — After three years as an NFL starter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston remains to be arduous to determine. He has produced dazzling highlights coupled with maddening turnovers, discovering open receivers lengthy after performs have damaged down, but coughing up the ball when he ought to have taken sacks.
What does that imply for the event of the Bucs’ 24-year-outdated franchise quarterback?
‘He must cease forcing issues’
Winston broke Dan Marino’s NFL file for most landing passes thrown earlier than a participant’s 24th birthday together with his 69th this previous season. But he is thrown the second-most interceptions (44) since 2015, when he entered the league, and has turned the ball over 59 instances in 45 video games. His 15 misplaced fumbles are additionally essentially the most of any participant throughout that span. While his turnovers dropped from 24 in 2016 to 18 in 2017, the speed of these turnovers per snap really went up, from 2.28 p.c to 2.38.
“Turnovers are the No. 1 thing that gets you beat, so [I am] very concerned,” stated the Bucs’ Dirk Koetter, who’s been with Winston all three seasons, the previous two as head coach. “Jameis knows that. He knows. Jameis is streaky with his turnovers. He can go three or four games and not turn the ball over and then we had a game [against the Saints] where he turned it over three times.”
An NFC defensive assistant whose group confronted Winston this season echoed these sentiments. The scouting report on him stated Winston was “inconsistent” when it got here to “decision-making and poise.”
Turnovers additionally have been a difficulty for Winston — the No. 1 decide within the 2015 draft — at Florida State, the place he threw 28 interceptions and misplaced two fumbles in 27 video games. But the distinction was that the Noles had practically a plus-24-point margin in these video games, with a turnover fringe of plus-11. It’s a special story within the NFL.
“It’s rare that you can overturn a negative turnover ratio,” Koetter stated. “It’s definitely something that has to be corrected, and that is one of the top things that would help us not be 3-7 in one-score games because they are hard to overcome when you don’t win the turnover [battle].”
The Bucs’ factors margin since Winston entered the league is minus-137, with a turnover margin of minus-four. Even one fumble can lose video games, as was the case in Week 13, when Packers defensive finish Dean Lowry returned a Winston fumble 62 yards for a landing.
“I like him and his skill set. I just think he needs to settle down and stop trying to force things and do so much,” stated one scout whose group confronted the Bucs in 2017. “I know it’s his competitive nature, but he just needs to stop forcing throws and taking bad throws. … He’ll present the defense with multiple opportunities to create turnovers.”
Shoulder damage performed function in 2017 struggles
Some of Winston’s errors could be attributed to the shoulder damage that plagued him many of the season and compelled him to overlook three video games. He struggled significantly with the deep ball, finishing simply 16 of 53 (30.2 p.c) passes of 20 or extra air yards, which was 23rd within the NFL.
“It’s definitely something that can affect your velocity, accuracy, your mechanics, your ability to push it down the field,” New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees stated. “I don’t know Jameis’ exact injury from this season, I just know what I’ve experienced in the past with different things. It depends what the injury is, but certainly those things can be affected.”
Lack of deep-ball accuracy can damage an offense predicated on making explosive performs downfield, significantly a roster with no true possession receivers. It additionally nullified any type of aggressive edge the Bucs had in signing speedster DeSean Jackson to a $35 million contract within the offseason. Jackson, who was getting separation on his routes however not catching many passes, had simply 668 yards, the bottom complete in his 10-year profession for a season by which he performed a minimum of 11 video games.
Then there have been experiences of a rising rift between Winston and Koetter, stemming from Winston feeling that his coach did not have his again in the course of the damage and frustration over Koetter’s lack of creativity in his playcalling. Publicly, Winston denied rift existed, and Koetter referred to as their relationship “extremely consistent.” Sources near the state of affairs counsel the 2 have to work on their communication.
The 2017 season was the primary time Winston had missed a recreation, at any degree, resulting from damage. Sources say he damage his throwing shoulder in a Week three loss to the Vikings, however he did not present up on the damage report till Week 7. It was a brand new expertise for him, however Winston wanted to speak to the teaching workers how he was feeling. If he did not really feel that his deep ball was there, he wanted to allow them to know. As a 3rd-yr quarterback, he had extra of a say within the recreation plan. Yet younger, extremely aggressive gamers do not normally advocate for themselves, and it is as much as the teaching workers to acknowledge once they’re restricted by accidents.
Koetter did Winston no favors by having him try 82 passes — second most within the league — within the two weeks following the hit by Chandler Jones in a Week 6 loss to the Cardinals that worsened his shoulder points. And 22 of these makes an attempt have been for 15 or extra air yards. Plenty of video games have been received by throwing beneath and shifting the ball incrementally down the sphere. If Winston is to enhance, he and Koetter should develop a extra open dialogue.
Good and dangerous of being a fiery participant
Winston is a passionate participant and a fiery chief, which the Bucs lacked with earlier younger quarterbacks in Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon. He might need unconventional motivational ways, like his broadly mocked pregame speech about “eating W’s,” however teammates admire his ardour and feed off of it. Backup security Keith Tandy likened Winston to an uncle, saying, “When he looks you in the eyes, you feel it in your soul and you want to go out and make a play for him.”
Even Saints coach Sean Payton can see it from the surface.
“I think there’s a tremendous amount of confidence amongst his teammates,” Payton stated. “You can see that on film, you can see that when you watch the TV copy. You can see his leadership in the huddle, out of the huddle, at the line of scrimmage, and I think guys feel like at any time, they can get the football and make a play.”
But Winston’s ardour additionally could be damaging.
He was fined $12,154 in Week 9 for an incident involving Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore that resulted in a suspension for huge receiver Mike Evans. In the ultimate minutes of the Week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Winston was so irate over a misplaced fumble that he tried to cost after an official, knocking over Bucs director of soccer operations Shelton Quarles, who was attempting to restrain Winston. Then there was the 2016 head-butting incident with Justin Durant of the Cowboys.
“We’ve had conversations with him [about that], but I’ll keep [the details of] that in-house,” Bucs basic supervisor Jason Licht informed ESPN. “But he’s the ultimate competitor. He wants to win as much as anybody in this town. He had acknowledged what he’s done and what he needs to do moving forward. He gets it. He’s a professional. We’re moving forward.”
“He’s the ultimate competitor. He wants to win as much as anybody in this town. He had acknowledged what he’s done and what he needs to do moving forward. He gets it. He’s a professional. We’re moving forward.”
Bucs GM Jason Licht
Winston has proven he isn’t afraid to carry teammates accountable, approaching defensive sort out Chris Baker with a number of teammates who did not admire Baker’s smiling demeanor after a penalty value them a victory over the Panthers on Dec. 24. Winston’s outburst on the finish of the sport possible contributed to the yelling that ensued within the locker room amongst Baker, Winston and a number of other teammates.
As a 24-year-outdated coming into his fourth season and a soon-to-be father, Winston must be taught to assist defuse these conditions, not escalate them, or he’ll wind up with extra expensive penalties, fines and possibly even a suspension. That’s an space the place veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick can help, if he returns. Winston has praised Fitzpatrick for his calm, steadiness and consistency.
Part of being a pacesetter and the face of a franchise additionally means making good selections off the sphere. There have been lots of query marks surrounding Winston after he was accused of sexual assault and was cited for shoplifting at Florida State. But as soon as he obtained to Tampa, there have been no points till November 2017, when a feminine Uber driver publicly accused Winston of grabbing her crotch.
Winston, who was driving with former faculty teammate Ronald Darby — who was additionally with him the evening the alleged assault befell at Florida State — and one other passenger that evening in Arizona, stated he believes the driving force was mistaken. No costs have been filed stemming from the March 2016 incident, however the NFL is investigating. Winston’s availability may very well be affected by the end result.
“There’s nothing we can do about the investigation,” Licht stated. “The league is going to do its due diligence in investigating it and we’ll deal with that when they come to a decision. But we’ll be prepared. I promise you, we’ll be prepared regardless of whatever decision is made.”
‘We’ve obtained the precise man’
Once wholesome, Winston produced the most effective performances of his profession on Dec. 18 towards the Atlanta Falcons, throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions, finishing 77.1 p.c of his passes and posting a 130.5 passer score. Even extra spectacular was that Jackson, tight finish O.J. Howard and proper guard J.R. Sweezy all left the sport with accidents. It was really the primary time in Winston’s NFL profession that he carried a group on his again.
That was all a part of a powerful end to the 2017 season as soon as Winston returned Dec. three from the shoulder damage. From Week 13 to Week 17, Winston led the NFL with 1,584 yards passing, tied for third with 9 landing passes and was 11th in Total QBR with 57.2 after rating 25th in Weeks 1-12.
That’s one thing to construct on going into 2018.
If Winston can keep wholesome, he can rebound taking part in a final-place schedule that features the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and Washington Redskins. But he and the Bucs definitely have their work minimize out for them in an NFC South that includes three 2017 playoff groups.
“We’ve got the right guy,” Licht stated. “He’s got the right mindset. The combination of toughness, intelligence, work ethic … all those things never cease to amaze me, to be honest with you.”