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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