Winston needs to be better, but he’s not a bust

by Gary Shelton on June 21, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Is Winston a star? No. Is he a bust? Also no../CARMEN MANDATO

Is Winston a star? No. Is he a bust? Also no../CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

When the final summation is made of Jameis Winston's career,  you may remember him as a disappointment. That's fair.

You may think of him as a dud, as an underachiever, as a flop. You may remember him as a losing quarterback, as an immature kid who didn't grow up in time, as a guy who made his team put up with too many overachievers. All of that is fair, too.

But it is ludicrous, ridiculous and just plain looney-tunes to call him a bust. He isn't.

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This is a relevant discussion, of course, because of a click-baiting story put out this week by Bleacher Report, a website that doesn't actually cover sports or show up at games. Every now and then, however, they put a piece together designed to garner clicks. Hey, who's going to read a story entitled "players who should be better." No, they have to use the buzz-word "bust," even though I suspect they know better.

This is one of the problems with modern "journalism." There are no experts quoted. There are no new studies. Just a guy throwing out the word "bust" and hoping everyone will pay attention. In other words, hooey.

Look, I'll be the first one to tell you that Winston should have done more. Okay? He should have protected the ball better. He should have won more. But being a "C" player isn't the same as being a failure.

To call him a bust is to have a lack of appreciation for the word, which is a label of complete futility, a draft pick so bad that someone has some explaining to do over his selection.

Ryan Leaf was a bust. He was projected to be a star -- some liked him better than Peyton Manning -- but he won all of four games. He never threw for as many as 2,000 yards. His career quarterback rating was 50.0. The Chargers dumped him after 32 games in two years.

JaMarcus Russell was a bust. He won seven games. He never threw for more than 2,500 yards. His rating was 65.0.The Raiders had seen enough after 31 games in three seasons.

Trent Richardson was a bust. He was the third-overall selection in the NFL, and he quickly went through Cleveland and Indianapolis. He averaged 3.3 yards for his career. The Browns dropped him after 17 games.

Got it?

Johnny Manziel was a bust. Keith McCants was a bust. Ki-Jana Carter was a bust. Blair Thomas was a bust. Dion Jordan was a bust. Charles Rogers was a bust.  Charles McRae was a bust. Heath Shuler.  Rich Campbell. Akili Smith.

On the other hand, Mark Sanchez wasn't. He went to two conference championship games. Vince Young wasn't. He went to two Pro Bowls. They were nobodies in the end. But they were better than busts.

Now, let's look at Winston. He has two 4,000 yard seasons. (Joe Montana never had one. Joe Namath had one.). He's won 18 times in three years (on a team that won twice the year before he arrived). He completed 63.8 percent of his passes last year (Super-efficient quarterback Bart Starr never matched that)/

Mind you, in its own story, Bleacher Report started off by backing away from its accusation of Winston as a bust. The site had to, I suspect, in the face of three seasons of passable stats. But Winston was still one of the first players mentioned in the article. There is no defense of it.

Granted, in three years, Winston has 44 interceptions. (Hall of Famer George Blanda had 42 in a single year.) He had a 92.2 quarterback rating a year ago. (John Elway, also a Hall of Famer, had 14 seasons with a lower rating). He's played 45 games, and counting, for the Bucs.

Now get this: In his time with the Chargers, his first team, Leaf had no 300-yard passing days. With the Raiders, Russell had no 300-yard passing days. Winston has had 11 300-yard passing days. Any questions?

Does any of this mean that Winston is complete? Of course not. He remains less mature than you would want. He lacks touch on the deep ball. He tries to force plays and turns the ball over. The Bucs, as a whole, remain a work in progress.

But "bust?"

Really?

There is no sane way to pronounce Winston as a bust. Has he had disappointing moments? You bet. But on a franchise that knows a lot about busts, there have been players who fizzled a lot louder.

I'll say this. Throwing the "bust" word around says far more about the author than it says about Winston. In the world of words, using it is reckless and poorly considered.

Sure, the world wants more from Jameis Winston. It always has. But there is a difference between being too close to average and being a bust. Anyone with a laptop should know better.

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