Not satisfied? Still, Winston is off to a great start

by Gary Shelton on July 14, 2017 · 3 comments

in general

Winston is off to a flying start in his career./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

We want him to win more.

We want him to create fewer turnovers.

We want to throw more crisply on his deep passes.

When it comes to Jameis Winston, we want it all. We want him to lead a fourth-quarter comeback,win in overtime and perform heart surgery in the stands after the game.

After all, Winston is where hope lives. For all the excellent players on the Tampa Bay Bucs, it is Winston who has the key to the post-season. It is Winston who can guide this franchise to its third terrific era. It is Winston who can become one of the greats of his position.

And yet, much of what you hear about Winston is dissatisfaction. He is the Promised One, and frankly, we want to see more of that promise. We want the finished product long before he is finished. We want him to be among the

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league's best players, among his team's best ambassadors, among his city's' finest athletes. We want him to be Brady-in-a-Can, a microwavable Manning,dealing Super Bowls like a deck of cards.

And you know what?

The kid is off to a pretty good start.

I know, I know. When it comes to quarterbacks, we are all art critics. It's easier to spot a flaw than a strength. It's easier to criticize than to be satisfied.

With Winston, a lot of the discussion seems to revolve around the things he has not done. He needs to be more accurate. He needs to cut down on his interceptions. And so forth. He needs to complete a higher percentage. He needs more first downs. He needs to guide his team to more touchdowns.

And, yeah, he does. When someone has become the face of a team, however young, we want that team to get better. It's human nature.

But while you have a bit of time before training camp starts, consider this:

Winston has been pretty darn good for two years.

How do you rank a young quarterback? By the yards he throws for? By  the touchdowns he passed for? By his quarterback rating? By his interceptions? By wins? By all of it?

Winston's numbers, so far, are right up there with Peyton Manning's, with John Elway's, with Cam Newton's, with Troy Aikman's.

Winston is going into his third season, and already,  he has thrown for  8,132 yards. Now, the Colts Andrew Luck did slightly better than that (by 64 yards), but who else? Brady, after two seasons, had fewer than 3,000 yards. Joe Montana had fewer than 2,000. Granted, neither had as much playing time as Winston, but when a guy has thrown for 4.6 miles, it's fairly impressive. Granted, quarterbacks stack up yardage easier than the old days (looser rules on the hands of offensive linemen, stricter defensive back play), but he's still off to one of the best starts in NFL history.

Eight grand of yards is more than Peyton Manning. It's more than Cam Newton. It's more than Dan Marino. It's more than just about anyone.

Now, let's talk about those 33 interceptions of his. Terry Bradshaw, after two years, had 46. Manning had 43. Joe Namath had 42. Troy Aikman had 36. Warren Moon had 33. You can find all of those guys in the Hall of Fame. Also, Matt Ryan had 38 and Doug Williams 32.

Wins? Sure, Winston has only 15. That's not enough. But when good quarterbacks are drafted by bad teams, it tends to follow that they'll endure growing pains. Manning had 16 wins after two seasons. John Elway had 16. Newton had 13. Jim Kelly had 10. Namath had eight. Aikman had seven.

After two seasons, we were still waiting to see what Aaron Rodgers would be like as an NFL quarterback. Philip Rivers, too.

Yeah, well how about Winston's quarterback rating? Thanks to his interceptions, it's down to 85.3.

Well, of course you would like it to be what Kurt Warner's first two years was when he hung up a 107.5 (most of it in his second season). Marino had a 104.5. Ben Roethlisberger was at 98 and Marcus Mariota has a 93.8.

Again, if you compare Winston's number, it isn't that bad. Cam Newton had the same 85.3. Namath had 65.2. Manning had 80.6. Elway had 69.3.Terry Bradshaw had 46.6. Winston's number is better than Matt Ryan's, better than Johnny Unitas', better than Brett Favre's.

It's hard to get an accurate listing; that would involve rating every quarterback ever who played over two years. But Winston has the best start in Bucs' history, and of 25 of the top quarterbacks in league history, he was tied for fifth with Newton and Jim Kelly.

In two years, Winston has thrown for 50 touchdowns. That's more than Luck, more than Matt Ryan, more than Johnny Unitas. Marino had 68, Derek Carr 53and both Russell Wilson and Manning had 52, but there aren't a lot of quarterbacks who have done better.

Frankly put, Winston has had two of the best seasons a young quarterback has had. Sure, there have been growing pains. Of course, he still needs polish. But don't forget what you have in Winston. You have a talented, hungry quarterback who accepts his leadership role. You have someone who wants greatness, and who will put in the work to get there.

Could he be better? Sure, he could be. With additional weapons, this will be a telling year for Winston.

In his third season, Manning had his first 30-plus touchdown year. In his third season, Tom Brady threw 28 touchdowns. In his third season, Namath threw for more than 4,000 yards for the first time. In his third season, Terry Bradshaw went from a five-win season to 11. Troy Aikman went to his first Pro Bowl. Jim Kelly won twice the games (12) than he had the year before (six).

It's a year to show maturity, a year to flash talent, a year to be reckoned with.

If Winston does that, if he gets his team to the playoffs, if he cuts down on his interceptions, if he wins more games, if he makes the playoffs, then the future of the Bucs looks to be in good shape.

Of course, we'll still want more.

Won't we?

Passing yards

1.   Andrew Luck 8196

2.   Jameis Winston 8132

3.   Cam Newton 7920

4.   Peyton Manning 7874

5.   Blake Bortles 7336

6.   Dan Marino 7294

7.   Derek Carr 7257

8.   Ryan Tannehill 7207

9.    Andy Dalton 7067

10.  Drew Bledsoe 7049

Passing touchdowns

1.      Dan Marino          68

2.      Derek Carr            53

3.      Peyton Manning  52

4.      Russell Wilson     52

5.      Jameis Winston  50

6.      Carson Palmer    50

7.       Andy Dalton       47

8.       Blake Bortles     46

9.        Andrew Luck     46

10.      Marcus Mariota 45

Fourth quarter comebacks

1. Andrew Luck            8

2. Peyton Manning      7

Ben Roethlisberger      7

Josh Freeman               7

Jake Plummer               7

6. Tom Brady                 4

Doug Williams               4

Troy Aikman                  4

Johnny Unitas               4

Joe Namath                    4

11. Dan Marino              3

Terry Bradshaw       3

John Elway                3

   Jameis Winston        3

Matt Ryan                   3


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