Jameis Winston finished 2015 with 4042 passing yards. Winston is the only quarterback in NFL history to reach 4000 passing yards before his 22nd birthday, but was this as impressive as it sounds?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers met the low expectations set out by Bucs’ fans and many inside the NFL by finishing the 2015 season with only six wins, which lead to the firing of head coach Lovie Smith. Penalties, turnovers, and overall poor effort contributed to their lack of success in 2015. Jamies Winston threw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdown passes, which lead to his finishing runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting. Winston is the only quarterback in NFL history to accumulate over 4,000 passing yards before his 22nd birthday. These were impressive numbers put up by Winston in his rookie season, but was he as good as the statistics showed?
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If greatness in the NFL was measured by passing yards than Winston would be on his way to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, but it is not. Passing yards can be a telling statistic, but often times this statistic is very overrated. Many NFL fans have seen a screen pass turn into a sixty yard pass play, in which the quarterback realistically threw the ball one yard and the receiver ran for the rest.
With player safety being a concern, current rules in the NFL heavily favor the offense, making it much easier for quarterbacks in the NFL to rack up passing yards. When their teams are winning, head coaches in the NFL are more likely to play a prevent style defense allowing for easy completions in the middle of the field.
In the six games the Buccaneers won, Winston completed 62.2% of his passes for 1,330 yards (222 yards per game), and limited his interceptions to only three. In the ten games the Bucs lost Winston completed just 56.6% of his passes for 2,712 yards (271 yards per game), with twelve passes intercepted.
So in the ten games the Bucs lost, Winston actually gained near fifty more yards per game, but unfortunately he threw nine more interceptions and completed passes at a much lower percentage. This can be attributed to the fact that when playing from behind, Winston was called on to throw more often.
14 of his 22 touchdowns came when the Bucs were behind. 370 of his 535 pass attempts occurred from behind as well, well over half, to go along with over 2,500 of his passing yards. Like it or not, Winston posted much of his statistics when the Bucs were losing, and defenses were in the prevent defense.
The Buccaneers are hoping for a much better outcome in the upcoming 2016 season, but for this to happen, Winston simply needs to be better. On paper, a 4,042 yard passing season may look nice, but it didn’t translate to a successful 2015 season by the Bucs. In reality, Winston’s rookie season was nothing special. Often, Bucs fans watched as errant passes whiz by his receivers, or even into the hands of opportunistic defenders. Winston’s decision making, accuracy, and pocket presence are all going to have to improve for the Bucs to see success in 2016.