Jameis Winston is thriving off play-action passes
By David Rumsey
We all know Jameis Winston looked a whole lot better in his second NFL start than he did in his first. Winston only threw 21 passes against the Saints, though, so what exactly his he doing so well?
The Bucs have run 13 play-action fakes through their first two games and it’s clear that Winston is having success off on these plays. The rookie is 4/8 for 112 yards, but that doesn’t even tell the whole story.
Winston’s only two incompletions coming out of play-action on Sunday were drops by Louis Murphy and Austin Seferian-Jenkins that could have easily been caught. Winston also threw a 40-yard bomb out of play-action to Murphy that drew a pass interference call in the end zone.
All four of Winston’s play-action completions have been for 15 yards or more, too. While the play-action is working quite often, Winston has been forced to scramble four times, one of which resulted in a sack.
Let’s take a look at a play you should all remember from Sunday to see just how well the play-action is working for Winston and the Bucs.
Below is the Seferian-Jenkins drop from the 2nd quarter that could have resulted in a huge gain inside the red zone. Notice how most of the Saints’ defense is keyed in on Doug Martin and how Seferian-Jenkins disguises himself as a blocker so no one thinks to cover him.
By the time the defense realizes it’s not a run and Winston has rolled out to his right, Seferian-Jenkins is all by himself on the left side of the field.
Winston delivered a pretty good ball, but we know now that Seferian-Jenkins couldn’t hang on. Nevertheless, it was a well designed and executed play that the Bucs will probably come back to at some point.
The other example I want to use is Louis Murphy’s 54-yard reception in the 3rd quarter. Just like on the Seferian-Jenkins play, Winston shows run to the left and the defense bites again, leaving a lot of room for Winston to roll to his right.
Once Winston is able to roll out, Murphy has confused his defender and gotten behind the safety.
Winston has plenty of space to wind up and deliver the ball deep down the field. Murphy was able to get open and Winston was able to roll out with so much time because of the play fake at the beginning of the down.
The stats show Winston is having success out of play-action and the film backs them up. Now this is nothing new, plenty of quarterbacks do well off play fakes, but it’s still encouraging for Bucs fans that Winston is making big plays happen.
Of course play-action only works when the defense has a little respect for your ground game. The Bucs handed the ball off 29 times Sunday and gained 116 yards from those attempts. That’s nothing too outstanding, but it’s enough to make defenses bite on play-action.
If the Bucs can continue having success running the ball not only will Winston not have to throw more than 20 or 25 times a game, but when he does he’ll be able to make big plays.
Through two games the Houston Texans’ defense ranks 19th in DVOA, while the Saints come in at 29th. J.J. Watt and the rest of the Texans’ D will certainly provide more of a challenge than the Saints did Sunday, but there’s not reason the Bucs can’t keep the chains moving.
Winston now has two games under his belt and even though Austin Seferian-Jenkins won’t be playing, Mike Evans should be back at 100% and ready to make big plays himself.