Inside the Rookie Year of Jameis Winston


All eyes were on Jameis Winston, as expected for a rookie starting quarterback. Add to that his number one draft status, and the microscope is focused even closer. Here we take a look inside the numbers at Winston’s first season in the NFL.

There was a lot of debate about the selection of Jameis Winston by the Buccaneers, with good reason. He looked pro ready in college, but would it translate to the pros? Would he be able to carry himself appropriately outside of the white lines? Pile that on to the fact that he was the number one overall draft pick, and the pressure was on. Number one picks, especially at quarterback, are expected to play. How would he do?

Let’s go inside the numbers, courtesy of Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus.

His overall numbers are solid for a rookie: 58.3% completion, 22 touchdowns versus 15 interceptions, and six touchdowns on the ground are an excellent start.

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Looking at his game logs, he got better as the year went along.  Over the first half of the season, Winston’s completion percentage was 57.7%.  Over the second half, it improved to 58.8%.  Every rookie quarterback goes through a growing period, where the game starts out far quicker than it was in college, and then slows down to a manageable speed.  Winston’s progression here began in his first season, which is an exciting sign.

Keep in mind, Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions in his first year.  15 is obviously higher than we want, but it isn’t a bad start.

Every quarterback needs to improve when they are under pressure, and young Jameis is no exception.  His completion percentage dropped to 49.3% when being blitzed, and 47.8% on all plays under pressure.  This is to be expected, as he needs clean looks when the game is slowing down, and the pressure is going to cause him to suffer.  Like everyone, this will need to get better, but he clearly has ability to escape, running for six touchdowns.

A quarterback with accuracy that can run is a rare find.  The offensive line, however, will have to help him a great deal more than they did in 2015, as Winston was under pressure on 37.6% of his drop backs.

Having a healthy Doug Martin will continue to be huge for Winston.  Whomever comes in to coach this team is going to need a scheme that involves Martin, and a lot of play action.  The Bucs only used play action on 19.9% of his drop backs, but Winston was more accurate with play action, completing 60.4% of his play action passes, compared to 57.9% of his straight drop backs.  The new coach must exploit Martin for both his ground game, and to free of up looks for Winston down the field.

His accuracy was superb with a good pocket.  When getting rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less, Winston completed 60.9% of his passes.  He still wasn’t bad when holding it longer than 2.6 seconds, completing 56.1% of those throws.  The moral here is that he can make all of the throws, and that isn’t always the case, even with a number one draft pick.  Ask JaMarcus Russell.

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All in all, young Mr. Winston had a strong first season in the NFL.  There are areas to improve, but it is all there.  It will be exciting to watch his development for a long, long time.