A Recent article in Bleacher Report claimed that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston may be trying to avoid the dreaded “BUST” label during the 2018 season. Could this really be the case?
On June 19th, 2018 Bleacher Report writer Gary Davenport posted an article listing “NFL Players Trying to Avoid the Bust Label in 2018” and the first slide was none other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback who was selected number one overall in the 2015 NFL draft in Jameis Winston. As he gradually improved each season and was tabbed to guide the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but with news coming down that he is likely facing a suspension for the first three game of 2018 due to an alleged incident, could he really be labeled a “BUST”?
We will get to the recent developments a little later in the article but first let us go through the arguments from the Gary Davenport’s Bleacher Report article. To include Winston in the article Davenport argues that his interceptions, his win total, and the fact that with all the offensive talent and missing three games his touchdowns were down last season as the main reasons that he could be considered a bust if he struggles during the 2018 season.
Looking into each argument, on the win total, maybe but wins and losses are not all the quarterbacks’ fault it is a whole team effort and the play of the defense has a role in those totals as well. During Winston’s three seasons the Buccaneers had the tenth, tenth, and 32nd ranked defenses the two years they ranked tenth the Buccaneers had records of 6-10 and 9-7.
Now still below .500 at a combined 15-17 but an improved record each season. Last season the defense disappeared and were last in total defense, passing defense, and third down defense and guess what, the Buccaneers were 5-11 (3-10 while Winston played). Granted backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was 2-1 with that same 32nd ranked defense when he subbed for and injured Winston, but he beat the 5-11 Jets and the 6-10 Dolphins.
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Then obviously, a team’s win/loss record cannot be all blamed on the quarterback as the play of a historically bad defense did not help either. With major additions on the defensive side of the ball this off-season, this will be the test year to see Winston’s true potential … if the defensive additions pan out and he plays as usual more wins should occur.
Next up we will look into Davenport’s point on Jameis Winston’s interceptions and turnovers in his first three years and see how that could lead to him potentially becoming a bust in 2018. Coming out of Florida State one of the knocks on him was his increase in interception from ten his freshman season to eighteen in his sophomore season, and so far as a classic “gunslinger” quarterback he has thrown quite a few in his short three season NFL career.
Totaling 44 interceptions in his 45 career games he averages just under one per game (one interception every 35 pass attempts, averaging 34 pass attempts/game). Last season he had his lowest total of eleven (one interception every 40 pass attempts, while averaging 34 pass attempts per game) while playing in thirteen games but still down from eighteen the previous season.
Some other current “franchise “quarterbacks actually have comparable interception numbers to Winston in their first three years. Quarterbacks like Andy Dalton threw 49 interceptions in his first three seasons, Andrew Luck threw 43, and Cam Newton threw 42. Then you can even go to some Super Bowl winning quarterbacks like Two time Super Bowl Champ Eli Manning who three 44 interception his first three seasons, two time SB Champ Big Ben threw 43, and even the immortal Tom Brady threw for 38 interceptions in his first three seasons.
Not that I am comparing Winston to the likes of Big Ben, Eli, or Brady as a quarterback … yet, but just goes to show that throwing many interceptions in your first three seasons does not kill your career if your other numbers are up as well. One thing those teams did though was win more games for their quarterback than the Buccaneers have done for Winston, but again as I mentioned losses are not all on the quarterback just as wins are not.
Another aspect in the turnover game that Winston has had issues with is lost fumbles, and in his three seasons he has fumbled 31 times with seventeen of them lost so if you add that to his interception total he’s accounted for 51 turnovers. Players mentioned above like Eli had 22 fumbles with 21 lost, Big Ben with nine and eight lost, and Brady had an amazing 36 fumbles with 24 lost their first three seasons. Once again, though most of these teams have won more, so if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win more games and Winston performs well that should help end his too many turnover discussion.
Drop in Touchdowns
The finally issue that Davenport’s article brings up for Winston as a potential “BUST” is that his touchdowns were down last season even though he had more passing weapons to throw to in guys like O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin. Which is true as Winston missed three games and played hurt in two others, and he had three games where he did not throw a single touchdown pass and in four games, he managed to throw just one touchdown pass.
With those numbers though he still ended up being right around his career average by throwing a touchdown pass in ever twenty-three pass attempts. The Buccaneers offense since Winston arrive has struggled scoring points in games in general averaging just 21.4 points/game during his career with an even lower 20.8 points/game last season. Struggling greatly at scoring touchdowns in the red zone as well with the percentage going down each of his three season to a low of 49% last season.
In my opinion, these offensive struggles can be attributed to two issues: Offensive line play and the lack of a consistent run game. Winston just does not have the time he needs to get rid of the ball at times shown by the fact that he has been sacked an astounding 95 times during his career or 32 times a season (two/game). Winston’s 95 sacks is the eighth most during that three year span leading to some of his fumbles and not having enough time to find open receivers in the red zone. It may also lead to his interception totals due to having to get rid of the ball before he wants too, and throwing the most risky pass instead of having time to find the open receiver. With a new center added to the mix in Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet moving to left guard, and a competition occurring on the right side bringing needed toughness to the offensive line thus helping Winston and the offense better succeed.
The second issue that has bogged down the offense is the lack of a consistent run game. Other than the 2015 season where the Buccaneers went from 2-14 to 6-10 and the run game averaged 135.1 yards/game ranking fifth in the NFL the Buccaneers have had one of the worst run games in the league. In the 9-7 2016 season the Buccaneers run game averaged just 101 yards/game with eight touchdowns ranking 24th in the league, and was even worse last season when they were 5-11 averaging just 90.6 yards/game with eight touchdowns ranking 27th in the league.
During Winston three year career the Buccaneers have averaged 108.9 yards/game, four yards/carry, and nine touchdowns rushing meaning that opposing teams do not fear or focus on the run game instead focuses on getting to the quarterback and the passing game. How do the Buccaneers expect to score in the red zone with no consistent reliable run game? Which is exactly why they drafted Ronald Jones with their first second round pick (38) adding some spark to the run game, and taking pressure off Winston in hopes of helping the offense be more successful.
In my opinion, fixing those two aspect of the offensive game (offensive line and the run game) will greatly improve all of Winston’s concerns that Davenport brought up in his article. Giving the Buccaneers more wins, Winston less turnovers, and definitely more touchdown passes … Now let us hope that happens this year and every one of Davenport’s concerns goes away and remove any inclining of a “BUST” label for Winston.
Alleged Off-Field Incidents
Now we finally to get to the elephant in the room … with the story of the “allegation” from 2016 that will likely cause Winston to be suspended. This is not the first “allegation” of this type on Winston as there was a similar allegation while he was at Florida State that caused the Buccaneers to do some hard investigating to make sure that he was the right type of person for the team.
As this is now the second similar in nature allegation for Winston, but granted with no charges filed against him in any manner and not saying they are truth, but could these allegations against Winston help to make Davenport’s “BUST” statement come true?
Guess it depends on what actions if any the Buccaneers take when his contract is due, or what information comes out from the NFL investigation. Each NFL team has a security team that investigates allegations and other things like this, and I firmly believe that after two years they will not be releasing him. If that were the option they were going to choose they would have done so already.
I am not going to make any judgement on anyone involved in the incident because it is not my place to do so, but if these allegations are true that could make Winston not necessarily a “BUST”, but more likely could wash him out of the league for a while ending his current rise to becoming a franchise quarterback. Now I am not making light of the allegations or situation at all but just in a football sense, they say winning changes everything.
I think if this “allegation” is deemed untrue or a misunderstanding of some kind and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to have faith in Winston and continue to give him the tools that he needs to succeed. That Jameis Winston could become the Buccaneers greatest quarterback and that he is far from being a “Bust” but we will have to wait and see how this off the field issue plays out.
Now it is your turn to tell me in the comment section or tweet me directly at @ND1Bucsfan. What do you think about Gary Davenport’s Bleacher Report assessment that Jameis Winston may have to fight off the “BUST” label this coming season? Does a good offensive line and a run game solve all of the issues for the Buccaneers and Winston that Davenport brings up in his article or no? Thank you, enjoy, and as always … GO Bucs!