Did Winston learn anything from watching?

by Gary Shelton on January 24, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Did Winston learn from watching the title games?/CARMEN MANDATO

Did Winston learn from watching the title games?/CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Sitting on the outside, far away from the fields that count, you wonder what he thought.

There on the sofa, popcorn in front of him, did Jameis Winston learn anything? Did he appreciate anything? Did he vow to emulate anything?

He has played three seasons now, and he is no closer to the playoffs than when he started. So did Winston, noted studier of game action, sit there with a notebook pad on his lap? Did he have buddies over to watch the game? Did he call his coach between games to compare notes?

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Winston had too many negative plays in 2017./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston had too many negative plays in 2017./CARMEN MANDATO

In many ways, this was a fairly good season for Winston. He cut his interceptions down by seven (although he threw 125 fewer passes, his interception rate was still at a career low).His yards per game were up by almost 15 per game. His completion rate was better.

But those can be deceptive numbers, too. There were a lot of stats that Winston -- or the Bucs -- don't want to embrace. Winston won only three games (of 13). His sacks were at the highest rate of his career. His touchdown passes fell below 20 (19) for the first time in his career.

And the turnovers? They were crippling. Winston had 11 interceptions -- the middle of the pack, really -- but he also tied for the league lead in fumbles with seven.

So you add up the numbers:'

11 picks.

Seven fumbles.

Thirty-three sacks.

Six penalties (tied for third in the league among quarterbacks).

It adds up. That's 57 negative plays in 13 games. That's enough to make a team 5-11 forever.

Did this resonate with Winston as he watched Tom Brady's fourth-quarterback comeback? Granted, Brady has been doing this a lot longer, but he has 42 fourth-quarter comebacks and 53 game-winning drives. Winston is at five and eight.

Did Winston watch the amazing efficiency of Foles, who had a rating of 142.4 against Minnesota's highly regarded defense?  Winston has played 45 career games. He's never had a quarterback rating that high. He's had more than Foles' 352 yards passing only five times.

One of the things that impressed me with Foles was the way he kept his eyes downfield when he was flushed from the pocket, and time after time, he made a big play because of it. There were no wild throws to defensive ends as he fell.

Then there is this. No interceptions, no fumbles for Brady. No interceptions, no fumbles for Foles. Hint, hint.

In other words, yes, Winston needs to get better. No one is saying he's the only problem with the Bucs -- who have no pass rush, no coverage, no running game and a mediocre offensive line. But for a community that is dying to rally around a quarterback and follow his progress, it isn't enough.

Look, quarterbacks throw interceptions. Even Brady threw eight this year. Alex Smith threw five. So, yeah, a ball is going to bounce off a receiver's hand. Someone's going to make the wrong cut. A pass rusher is going to get his hands on the quarterback.

But Winston has to stop making negative plays before we can return to appreciating his positive ones.

Otherwise, he'll be on that sofa for a lot of post-seasons to come.


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