Can Winston control turnovers, tantrums?

by Gary Shelton on December 29, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Winston has to take care of the ball and his emotions./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston has to take care of the ball and his emotions./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 2 a.m.

He is still his own worst enemy. He is still a member of the bad hands people.

He is Jameis Winston, and yes, he will give up the football from time to time.

In a lot of ways, this has been a better season for Winston that people want to allow. His rating is up. His completion percentage is up. If not for missed games, his yardage would probably be up.

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Ah, but then there are the fumbles.

And the interceptions.

And the meltdowns.

“Possession of the ball is the most important thing," said Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter. "There is no question about that. If you look at sacks in the NFL, it is a high number of sacks on the quarterback that turn into fumbles. That is across the league. The quarterback is in a vulnerable position and we had two of those last week. Both the first one and the second one were Jameis in a passing posture. I think part of that is just experience and learning if I am not getting the ball out on time, sometimes I’ve got to go into self-preservation mode.

"I think that is something that Jameis will continue to work on as time goes on. The snap in the game, in this particular game, that was on Joe (Hawley). Joe came right off the field. Joe was pulling on the play and Jameis didn’t even touch that ball. It goes as a fumble to him – that is just the way the stats are and that is fine. I think the biggest one that Jameis has to correct moving forward is the one where he’s got guys hanging on him and he is still trying to make a play. Has he made plays like that? Yes, he has. But, the risk-reward there just isn’t high enough.”

Winston's interceptions are down this year to eight. But his fumbles are up to seven. In one game short of three seasons, he has 41 interceptions and 15 fumbles. That's not nearly enough care.

“I guess I’ve got to practice those situations more," Winston said. "I’ve definitely got to hold onto the ball in terms of fumbling. But yeah, I’ve got to stop fumbling.

“My job is to protect the football. No matter what happens, I’ve got to hold onto the ball. It doesn’t really matter where [the pressure] is coming from, if my eyes or closed or anything. You’ve got to have a feel and try to protect it. Don’t lose it.”

Winston doesn't always play that way, however. He lost three fumbles against Carolina on Sunday.

"It’s still a turnover," said Bucs' offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "There is no running rating for a quarterback where we deduct for turnovers, but it still is catastrophic for your team. It still puts you in a real bind. The thing you like about Jameis is the way he extends plays and the competitive nature that he has about him. We’ve scored the last two weeks on scrambles where he has escaped and hit Adam (Humphries) the week before and Bobo (Wilson) this week, so you like that part of it.

"With that being said, I think for a while, Ben Roethlisberger had that. He made a lot of plays, but he was also one of the high guys in terms of fumbles, which if you are not throwing the ball away and you are trying to extend plays, that is going to happen. Obviously, it’s a point of emphasis every week. It’s something that has stopped us – like any turnover – from scoring as much as we’ve needed to score.”

Koetter conceded that playing hurt may have hindered Winston.

“The numbers are so dramatic. I think, like a lot of stuff, that is a hard thing to measure because no one really knows – it is hard on any injury, unless a guy can’t run or something like that – it’s hard to say. A shoulder injury to a quarterback, ‘Okay, does it affect him five percent? Does it affect him 10 percent?’ At some percent there, he wouldn’t have played. The doctors wouldn’t have cleared him to play. So, it’s a hard thing to judge, but the numbers are so dramatic. When you talk to Jameis about that, he’s got a couple other things that he would point to, but it’s really hard other than health – I mean, he is healthier (and) that is the main difference.”

Winston ended the last game with a tantrum after not being awarded a fumble recovery. Earlier in the season, he flicked the helmet of Saints corner Marshon Lattimore. So does Winston have a grip on his emotions?

“Considering the last game we just had, that is a pretty obvious question," Monken said. "We obviously didn’t protect it and he got fired up. He is a highly-competitive young man. The most frustrated people on a given team are the ones that feel so tied to the wins and losses – coaching and quarterback. That is where you are going to feel it. When that occurs and he is competitive and he comes out of the pile with the ball or something occurs where it gets the best of him, that is just who he is. That is going to continue, in my opinion, to subside as he keeps playing.

"Like a lot of things, he will improve in those areas. Like all of us, when you are tied to the winning and the losing – and let’s not kid ourselves, not everybody is. Players at times are really tied to their skillset. Yet, the guys tied most to winning and losing [are coaches] and quarterbacks. That is where you are going to get that from. That’s what you love about him. You love that about him and it is just a matter of time before hopefully that doesn’t become something to where we are constantly talking about this. The turnovers, they are going to occur now and then, but the other part you keep trying to move forward.”

Ah, but do other quarterbacks react the same? Or does Winston need to grow up?

He'll get another chance Sunday at Raymond James. The Bucs are home against New Orleans at 4:25 p.m.


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