Who is better than Winston? Who is worse?

by Gary Shelton on October 9, 2017 · 7 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston remains a work in progress for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston remains a work in progress for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday 4 a.m.

I tried to watch. Honest I did. Right up til the point my eyes started bleeding and my brain went numb.

For old time's sake, I turned on the Miami Dolphins' game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday afternoon. It lasted about 15 minutes until I felt like the guy in a Clockwork Orange. To watch anymore of the Jay Cutler-Matt Cassel duel in the sun, I would have had to have those little toothpicks that pried his eyes open.

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Eventually, I gave up, as I imagine most people did. I turned to the Carolina-Detroit game, which was an infinitely superior game. Why? Because the quarterbacks – Cam Newton and Matt Stafford – were much, much better.

I switched the NFL network. They were showing highlights of the Browns-Jets. It was an open casting call for a quarterback. Deshone Kizer was benched. Josh McCown should have been.

And so it went. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has been a great quarterback throughout his career. Not Sunday. He had five picks, two of them returned for touchdowns. Blake Bortles was invisible – less than 100 yards in a big win. Eli Manning guided his Giants to 0-5 with a pick on the final play. The Colts and 49ers featured Brian Hoyer and Jacoby Brissett. Tyrod Taylor was sacked six times. E.J. Manuel was, well, E.J. Manuel.

Oh, there was some good play. Andy Dalton was good. Carson Wertz was good.

Still, it was spotty.

As I watched the quarterbacks, I decided to put them on a Jameis Winston pass.

Who's better? Who's not?

Better – Tom Brady: Like Winston, Brady hasn't played since Thursday night. But Brady was much sharper for most of the night. And then he went home and put on his fistful of Super Bowl rings.

Worse – Jay Cutler: Cutler has a nice arm. Cutler does not have a nice head. Fewer than 100 yards passing.

Better – Drew Brees: Brees doesn't have the arm strength he used to have. But he's a competitor, and he's capable.

Worse – Blake Bortles: Bortles is best when the Jags can put him in the side-car, the way they did Sunday, and let him tag along with better players.

Better – Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers never looks like he's throwing an incompletition.

Worse – Tyrod Taylor is off to a good start this season. But would you trade him for Winston? No, you wouldn't.

Better – Cam Newton: Newton is one of the quarterbacks you want Winston to grow up to be, especially now that he seems healthy.

Worse – Even if he was healthy, I like Winston over Marcus Mariota. But it's not a runaway.

Better – Matthew Stafford. Stafford may be overpaid, but he's in his third season with a rating higher than 90.

Worse: Josh McCown. In his year with the Bucs, McCown helped make Winston possible. But he's not near the quarterback.

Better – Matt Ryan. So far this year, Ryan's rating is down almost 20 points. But he's still ahead of Winston.

Worse – E.J. Manuel. When the Raiders have Derek Carr, they have a better quarterback. But not with Manuel.

Better – Russell Wilson. Wilson isn't an elite quarterback, but he's led the Seahawks to two Super Bowls. Isn't that what it's all about.

Worse – Kirk Cousins. I'm going to get feedback for this one. But no, I wouldn't trade Winston for him.

Better – Ben Roethlisberger: It's an easier comparison to make when he doesn't play as badly as he did Sunday. Most Sundays, he doesn't.

Worse – Brian Hoyer: He's still in the league?

And so it goes. True, ranking quarterbacks is always a personal thing, and grades change every week. You can arm-wrestle over Dak Prescott, who is a different type of quarterback with a lot of weapons around him. You can debate Carson Wentz, who still has some catching up to do. You can talk about Eli Manning, who has a greater career but a bad season.

But you get the picture. Right now, Winston is roughly in the middle of them all. For all his arm, for all his will, he's kind of skirting the line between the elite and the just-another-guys. When he plays the way he did against the Giants, you could debate if he's in the top 10-12. When he plays the way he did in the first three quarters against the Patriots, you could knock that down to 17-18.

Yes, I think he's getting better. Yes, I think he'll cut down on his turnovers. But he isn't a finished product.

For now, you can feel optimistic. He's getting better. It just isn't happening as fast as you want.

Maybe this week, when he plays Arizona, it begins.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller October 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm

No doubt. I am glad to hear you say that because too often I think we are hearing excuses for why Winston isn’t better but ultimately it’s on him. Hopefully he will develop into the QB we all hope he can be. For now he has a long way to go.

I’ve got Watson on my Fantasy team and he is doing fantastic! Smith is having a career year and probably underrated. Drafting the young guy is a good motivator for him apparently. Plus he will be a free agent next year so there will be a lot of dollar signs in his future.


Gary Shelton October 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm

I like Winston. I do. I just constantly find myself in the middle between those who think he’s a bust and those who think he’s a star. I think he’ll be fine with time.


Larry Beller October 10, 2017 at 7:59 am

Just remember I’m on DeShaun Watson’s bandwagon early on. It would be interesting to get your NFL expert’s take on his development at this early stage in his career as compared to Winston, Mariota and others.


Gary Shelton October 10, 2017 at 8:28 am

Larry, it’ll be interesting for me, too. I think grades are always changing (like realities). Let’s continue to compare. Ok?

Remember, Steve Young’s career got off to an awful start (here). Ryan Leaf was decent for a while. Things change as team’s adjust and teammates change.


Bill MYERS October 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

Waiting in Bradenton! GO BUCS!


Larry Beller October 9, 2017 at 6:28 am

I guess you didn’t watch Sunday night because there were 2 pretty good QBs playing then, Alex Smith and DeShaun Watson. Between them they had 8 TD passes which is a really important stat. If you can score TDs rather than field goals you are going to win a lot of games. DeShaun Watson is very impressive. Being a rookie you would not expect how cool he is under pressure. He also throws a good deep ball and of course is a great runner as we all remember from college. This is a guy to watch. He’s way ahead of where Winston was in his rookie season. Smith is doing everything well this year including throwing deep passes and he still runs well when needed. And oh yeah his team is undefeated. Another important stat.


Gary Shelton October 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm

I didn’t watch Saturday night. But to me, Smith is a hard guy to evaluate. He’s had good numbers, but the Chiefs did trade up to take another quarterback this year, so they aren’t completely sold, either.

As for Watson, I wasn’t ranking them from Winston’s rookie season, though. I love Watson. Did in college. Couldn’t understand why he wasn’t higher drafted. But let’s agree that Watson just got here. In a year, maybe he’ll pass Winston flying. But right now, no one would trade Winston for Watson.

Still, the point of the column was to say that WInston has a long way to go to reach to top third of the league’s quarterbacks. Right?


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