Buccaneers: Quarterback battle preview vs. Saints

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

This weekend, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers face off against Jameis Winston and the Saints in a highly-anticipated matchup.

It seems that the Buccaneers will forever be connected to Jameis Winston even after his departure several years ago and winning a Super Bowl with a new, better quarterback.

The Great Schism in Buccaneer history was the decision to move on from Winston in favor of Tom Brady. Some fans hated the move so much that they shifted their fandom to a division rival to support their former quarterback.

“Bucs fans” on social media celebrate Winston and his 4-2 record on a nightly basis while their quarterback is the current MVP favorite. It boggles the mind.

Regardless, this weekend is the battle of important Buccaneer quarterbacks from history, so here is a breakdown of the best quarterback in franchise history vs. Jameis Winston.

Tom Brady’s 2021 stats: 203 completions for 2,275 yards, 21 touchdowns, and three interceptions on 303 attempts (67%)

Jameis Winston’s 2021 stats: 89 completions for 1,114 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three interceptions on 151 attempts (58.9%)

The basic stats tell an obvious story. One quarterback is leading the league in most relevant passing categories and is the most important player on his offense. The other player is successfully managing games. Despite the narratives we heard for years, Brady isn’t the game manager.

If we extrapolate these stats over the season, Brady will finish the year with 5,525 passing yards, 51 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Winston will finish the year with 3,156 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Both of these stat lines are very impressive, but one is obviously much better.

Tom Brady is called upon to do much more in Tampa and plays a much more significant role. Winston is without the amazing offensive weapons that Brady possesses, but he does lean on Alvin Kamara, a great defense, and one of the best offensive coaches in league history in Sean Payton. Each player has their own benefits for the systems they’re in, so to pretend one is in a massively better system than the other is disingenuous.

Now, let’s look at the advanced stats. Brady currently leads the NFL in intended air yards while Winston comes in at 27th, but part of that is due to his high volume of passes for Brady and the minimized usage of Winston. When looking at that on a per pass basis, Winston edges out Brady with 8.8 intended air yards per pass over Brady’s 8.7.

The next important area to look at is yards after the catch. This stat does a lot to show how much the receivers are helping out their quarterback. Again, Brady leads the NFL, but this is still due to volume. When looking at actual quarterbacks and on a per pass basis, Winston is averaging the seventh-most yards after catch per pass with 6.1, while Brady is 19th on the list with 5.4.

Pocket time also sheds some light on the quarterback situation, and Winston is blessed yet again. Winston is tied for the most pocket time in the league amongst active quarterbacks with 2.6 seconds, while Brady comes in tied for fourth with 2.3 seconds. Both quarterbacks have excellent offensive lines, but the GOAT still sets himself apart.

Moving into the final category, Winston has the fourth-highest bad throw rate in the league behind three rookie quarterbacks at a rate of 21.7%. Despite his higher volume of throws and a greater opportunity to build up fatigue in the passing game, Brady is still lower on the list than Winston at sixth with 20%.

These numbers shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even at 44, Tom Brady is still the better quarterback. To pretend otherwise is asinine. The FSU fans that also support the Bucs may have some trouble watching their former quarterback get outplayed by someone old enough to be his dad, but that is just the cold hard truth.

Sean Payton is making Jameis Winston work well, but he is a game manager now. Tom Brady is dominating with the Buccaneers, and no one could ever call him a game manager in this offense with a straight face.

The game this weekend will prove to be one of the most exciting of the season, but there is a clear advantage for Tampa on the quarterback front.

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