Buccaneers’ Game Day Spotlight: Jameis Winston
By James Yarcho
Today’s contest against the Denver Broncos seems like an impossible task. In order for the Buccaneers to stand a chance, it will all fall on Jameis Winston.
Well, it took four weeks before I named a player I was consciously avoiding. Jameis Winston is too easy of a pick to name him the spotlight player. He’s always in the spotlight given that he’s the quarterback and last year’s number one pick.
However, if the Bucs are going to compete today, their chances stand squarely on Winston’s shoulders.
There is no running game. None. Since the losses of Doug Martin and Luke Stocker, the Buccaneers’ rush offense has been just plain bad. Charles Sims is not cut out for a between the tackles role at running back. He’s effective in space because that’s where he makes guys miss.
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There is no threat on the outside opposite Mike Evans. Vincent Jackson is still M.I.A., so Evans will be faced with the difficult task of making plays while covered by Aqib Talib. There is one way the Bucs can somehow upset the Broncos; Jameis Winston making short, quick passes all day long.
Adam Humphries and Cam Brate are the key players in the passing game today. Evans will get his targets and hopefully – like when he faced off against Patrick Peterson – he will make some plays. However, he can not be the focal point this week. With no threat of a running attack, the Bucs must “run” by way of short, “dink-and-dunk” passes against an aggressive pass rush.
Dumping the ball off to Humphries, Brate, and Sims will cause the aggressive pass rushers to get up field to get after Winston, then turn around and chase down receivers, getting them tired quickly. Getting Winston the time to throw deep is virtually impossible against this Broncos defense, so the only viable option is that short passing game.
The problem with Jameis Winston is when he’s under pressure, he abandons any resemblance of cognitive footwork, leading him to sail easy passes. That will lead to turnovers in a hurry. Using an up-tempo, short passing game allows Winston to get into a rhythm as well as get the ball away before the pressure gets to him.
This is likely the toughest game the Buccaneers will have all season and falling to 1-3 could spell season long disaster heading into a Monday night showdown on the road in Carolina next week. The Bucs bounced back from a 1-3 start last season to get to 6-6 before the wheels fall off, but this schedule doesn’t ease up too much after the bye. The Buccaneers have to find a way to steal today’s game. Help us, Jameis Winston. You’re our only hope.