All Twenty-Tuesday: QB Jameis Winston

Winston’s accuracy has been an issue since his college days, but since his first season as a starter showcased him throwing 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, I think it has taken longer for some to admit that this is the case. Winston is a big-time thrower, which means he’s not afraid to take a chance for a big reward down the field. The mentality is good, but the results have to be better.

Through 16 weeks last season, in a clean pocket, on passes of more than 21 yards, Winston was 17-for-39 with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. In the intermediate (passes of 11-20 yards), with a clean pocket, he was 88-for-130 with just two touchdowns to six interceptions. Much higher accuracy, but more turnovers – a bit of an enigma.

We start our film review here, in Week 1 of 2016 against the Atlanta Falcons. The throw above was early on in the game. Before the Bye Week, Winston struggled early in games. I’m not sure if it was just the added adrenaline or the need to get his feet wet with some early competition, but the throw above, for example, should have been an easy score. It wasn’t even his first long throw of the day which might have needed some rust off the arm, either. In the play directly before this one, he missed Adam Humphries at a similar distance and at a similar location to his right.

Winston had a clean pocket in the throw in the play above. He had the time to complete his drop and even had the space to plant and launch off his back foot. I don’t hate the technique on the throw, minus the fact that he didn’t follow through as much as you’d want (Winston is never going to be a robotic passer) but regardless, this is one you can’t miss.

Our next clip begins to paint more of the picture of what could be the source of Winston’s accuracy issues. Even in their first game, the groundwork was already being laid for the final statistics we observed on the previous page that notified us of Winston’s inconsistencies when throwing to his left and to his right.

As stated in the previous clip, Winston miss-fired on two deep throws to his right on back-to-back plays. On the play directly above, however, Winston had a clean pocket and delivered a great ball in the end zone over two defenders for a touchdown – all to his left. It seemed as though Winston was more comfortable moving in that direction.

Later in that game, in the clip directly above, Winston was rolling out, threw to his left, and it was an absolute dime. We talk about how great Winston is out of structure when it comes to processing things down the field, but he might also be better outside of structure with his throwing motion, too. That’s unique, but I would venture to say that the gap between success in structure and success out of structure is too wide for him right now.

In Week 2, we head back to the right side and notice another detail. Winston is not nearly as comfortable throwing from under center than he is from the shotgun. He knows how to do it. He understands the footwork for handoffs, and he knows how to execute varying step drops, but he still doesn’t looks as comfortable when throwing.

That comes to light in the clip above where he again miss-fires when looking to his right. The problem here is with the trajectory of the ball – something Dub Maddox talks about in his quarterback review. If you can pause the video right when Winston releases the ball out of his hand, watch where his arm goes. It goes almost across his face right at shoulder level. That’s not where his arm should be finishing throw. It should be with the throwing thumb going in the opposite pocket. That’s the reason that ball was so high over the target.

That’s a technique thing, and something Winston can certainly clean up, but once he’s been taught it, it’s up to him to actually do it. Fans love Winston for the unconventional success he can have, but at times, that same unorthodox nature that allows him to make the “ooo and ahh” plays also make the simple things less consistent. Here is was him being uncomfortable throwing to his right, and his follow through suffering because of it.

The clip above is more evidence to a natural throwing motion to his left and not his right. Now, the pass above is to his right, but if you’ll notice, because of the way he stepped up in the pocket, he released the ball with his hips fully open like he would for a throw to his left. He seems to be able to correctly throw a ball with velocity and trajectory more when his body is in an open stance.

If you asked most Bucs fans what their favorite Winston throw of the season was, most would say the fade throw for a touchdown at home over Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman. That’s the play we have above, and it really is one of Winston’s best throws all year. Look at how comfortable he was when he released the ball both with velocity and placement; it was perfect. It was the perfect throw for that situation, and it all happened when he could open up his hips, drive through the ball with a wide stance and also account for his body swinging to the left.

The more I thought about it, the more Winston’s throwing hits and misses reminded me of the game of golf. Now, I’m not that great at golf. I can hit the ball far, but my accuracy is what kills me. When I was in high school, I played on my school’s team. I only played for one year – my senior year – because my uncle was the coach and they needed a sixth person. Almost everyone on the team was better than me, but because I was the only senior, I elected myself captain and “led” my boys to the state tournament.

I didn’t even play once we got that far.

Anyways.

For a long time when I played, I had a mean fade off the tee box with my driver due to how I torqued my body in the back swing, and my odd balance coming through the ball. I didn’t have the time or the technique to fix it, so instead of not using my driver, I decided to just play the fade. I would purposefully aim my drives to the far left side of the fairway, sometimes even into the rough, and fire away, knowing the ball would go from left to right.

This is what I see in Winston – he’s playing the fade in his arm.

It’s well documented that Winston was also a baseball star. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 15ht round of the 2012 MLB draft, but opted to go to Florida State instead. We all know of his accolades playing football there, but he also played two season of baseball for the Seminoles where he was a pitcher and an outfielder. For pitchers, it’s natural for their body to swing in the direction their arm is going. That’s what Winston did on the mound, and that seems to be what’s most comfortable for him on the football field. When he can get his feet in a wide, open stance, that’s when you really see the natural velocity and placement occur. I’m not saying it’s exactly because of baseball, all I’m saying is that the mechanics and the physics seem to line up, in that sense, when weighing where he makes mistakes.

Winston just does not look as comfortable when he has to close his shoulder to his right side. He misses on little things he shouldn’t. He’s been throwing a football his entire life. He understand how the trajectory of his passes need to go. He knows what his arm can do, and yet, sometimes it just seems to fail him, even in a clean pocket. Footwork is also important, but I think he knows what to do there, as well. He’s just not as comfortable when he can’t swing his hips open to follow through.

Last week we went over some mental makeup from Winston, and I think we identified a logical, yet correctable, train of thought that he’s had since dominating the quarterback position as a kid. This week I’d venture to say we’ve put some logic into his accuracy issues as well. Obviously, I’m not Winston. I’m not in his head. I haven’t been with his quarterback coaches or offensive coordinators throughout the years, so I have no idea if this kind of stuff is suppose to be ground breaking or not; I’m just looking at the data and the film (even then, there’s context I don’t know of). But, what’s not ground breaking, regardless, is the fact that Winston has to get better. There are areas of his game that I believe he is ahead of, but as stated before, I think he was still playing his fade when throwing the ball downfield. If it’s not something he can become more consistent with, you could see defenses key in on help to one side of the field or the other, or perhaps blitzing him to look a certain way.

So what if this who Winston is? In his first 32 games, Winston has thrown 33 interceptions. Other former first round starters still in the league who threw more interceptions in their first 32 games: Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Blake Bortles. During the pre-draft process, Winston was compared to both Roethlisberger and Manning, and I’ll throw another name in there that I heard, Joe Flacco. When it comes to that imaginary Mendoza line of 59 percent, the career completion average for quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls since 2002 is 63.85 percent. However, who were the only three quarterbacks to win Super Bowls with 59 percent competition percentages during that time? Roethlisberger, Manning and Flacco. If this is who Winston is, it’s not the end of hope, even if he flirts with the Mendoza line some years.

Like Matt Miller and so many others believe, accuracy isn’t always something that can be taught. 2016 made it three years in a row, including his last season at Florida State, that Winston has struggled with accuracy and turnovers. A year or two more on that same path and it will become who he is as a quarterback, not something he will likely correct with upside. But, over the next few years, it seems like he’ll have all the offensive weapons he could want on an offense that wants to see him push the ball down the field. He’ll go for it whether he improves or not, but years three and four are typically the years we see drastic improvement, if there is any to be had, in young quarterbacks.

Buckle up, because 2017 is shaping up to be a wild ride for Winston and Company.

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Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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MudManVA

Nice 2 weeks Trevor & nice fantasy draft…you won hands down. arm strength & accuracy or important in the NFL, but I think the most important is the QB’s head, period. You can have the “gods” touch your arm, but if you don’t have the intellect & instincts he”ll never be really good. The NFL is littered with gift QB’s that could never amount to squat. The thing I love about Jameis is that he has those instincts, self confidence, and ANTICIPATES throws. How many QB’s have to have an open WR to throw versus throwing them open. Jameis does… Read more »

Chad Spitza

This is exactly what I was hoping for in breaking down Jameis’ accuracy. I tend to agree with the baseball concept here and a perfect example can be seen here: Youtube – ‘Jameis Winston outfield assit’ The VERY first video shows a still shot of the throw. Hips open and he throws a dart to third. Pretty fun to watch in real speed as well. I believe baseball throws naturally open up throwing motions. Jameis is a natural thrower and its evident by all the unconventional throws he makes look easy. You could also make the argument his long delivery… Read more »

Bucpride5

Articles like this are why I’m not sold on him as a franchise qb. While he is promising and has decent stats he has A LOT to work on to earn the coveted franchise label.

– reduce turnovers
-make better decisions
-become more accurate
-quicker decision making

If he improves even on a few of these I can see

4250 yards 63% completion percentage 32 TD’s 16 INT’s

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Hank Scorpio

I get what you’re saying, but you’re confusing franchise QB with elite QB. Jameis is already very much a franchise QB in the same way that Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan are franchise QBs. Both have had 1 elite season, but their career numbers (particularly TD:INT) are fairly similar to what Jameis has done so far. Neither of the Matt’s are on a HoF career trajectory at this point, but both are capable of being 15 yr franchise guys with the possibility for peak seasons like the Falcons had last year if everything falls into place (Matt Ryan had career… Read more »

Bucpride5

I classify a franchise qb as a player that gives your team a chance to win every week guys like Brady, Rodgers, Rothelisberger, Ryan, Brees, Newton, Carr, Luck, and Wilson all fit that bill. It’s a term that gets thrown around haphazardly as teams are desperate to find a qb. If you fit that franchise mold yes, you should be with your team for the long term. In my view Jameis is in the Eli Manning Stafford mold where he needs superior talent to help him and will either break your heart or excite you Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

cgmaster27

You seem to be forgetting that
A. he is still the youngest QB in the NFL, and
B. his stats compare almost exactly like the greats such as Drew Brees, Ben Rothlesburger and others.
He is already very much a franchise QB, our win total has increased every year sine he’s gotten here, and he will only improve as he puts in the work to do so. He does have a lot of work to do, he’ll even admit that, but he is the definition of a franchise QB.

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Naplesfan

It’s kinda silly to argue the completely ambiguous, I would say “meaningless” term of “franchise quarterback”.

Jameis Winston is our starting quarterback, likely he will be for many years to come, and he is a good quarterback, developing well considering he has only 2 seasons under his belt. He has the potential to become a very good quarterback,conceivably even a great quarterback.

That’s all that matters, or should matter, to us as fans.

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Iowabucfan

2017: 4500 yards, 35 Tds, 16 Ints
Go Bucs!

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Iowabucfan

I think his yardage and TDs will go up because there is more talent around him. His interceptions will probably be about the same since he is a gun-slinger. Bring on TC!

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SaskBucs

Jameis did look a bit uncomfortable on some throws but I think the offense this year will take some heat off. The protection is hopefully better and defenses will respect the surrounding talent more, giving Jameis more time to dial throws in as well as cut down on interceptions.

2017- 4,360 yards, 63.4 %, 34 TDs, 14 INTs

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Horse

This would all be a different analysis if the OL played a little better, we had a little better running game, the WR’s ran the correct routes, the timing was in sync with a few more plays, and finally we used the dump pass as a prime play like all the QB’s who have higher percentages. Look no further than the two QB’s in the superbowl who used the dump pass over and over; sure made Brady and Ryan look very good. So I’ll take a wild guess based on ” a little better improvement from all the above”; 21… Read more »

Bucpride5

That would be a HUGE regression for Winston

If you look back at some of Jameis incompletions on long throws he typically has a checkdown and ignores that option for the long throw

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Runole

I believe that with the additional targets Winston’s long ball accuracy will improve as well a drop in the number of interceptions. The entire passing game got a huge improvement with the new acquisitions.

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nitey

Great article Trev, accuracy was the main reason I was on Team Marriota before the draft. However, I’m very happy with Winston. I think Winston’s accuracy will improve again this season because I think, unlike last year, because of the number of weapons he has available this year. Between Evans, Jackson, Brate, Humphries, Howard, Godwin, Sims and McNicoles he has better options at every level as well as greater depth should injuries occur. Also, while accuracy cannot possibly be taught, better throwing technique will cause balls that were maybe close misses last year to be caught this year and Winston… Read more »

nitey

Oh, 62.5% completion percent.

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Oberlon

2017: 4320 yards, 62.1%, 31 TD, 13 IN.

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cgmaster27

Another great article Trevor. I’ve said, it will take a few years if ever, to get the baseball out of him. It is interesting that he appears more comfortable to the left. I think the accuracy will improve with time and now he has more than 2 guys to throw to as well. He clearly missed on some of those big throws last year, just no speed out there. Desean Jackson isn’t getting overthrown on that toss to Mike at the first clip. We have a bunch of possession guys until this year. AS for the INT’s as a Winston… Read more »

tontoarnie

I still get frustrated when the stats for a quarterback get linked to a wide receiver’s ability. I’m in no way saying that Winston is the most accurate passer but for example, the first long ball to Evans which he over threw landed dead center of the end zone where I believe Evans was supposed to be. In-completions when the receiver runs the wrong routes, etc. Time will tell when he starts throwing to Desean who actually has the speed to adjust to the ball.

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vinnie

Much increased passing yards and TD’s for Jameis this year as his new receivers will stretch the field and create more separation which should drastically improve yards and touchdowns. I think completion percentage will slightly increase but not dramatically as he will continue to stretch the field and not take the check downs. Also think his interceptions will remain higher than other franchise QB’s as he is a gunslinger. My thoughts are; 4,750 yards, 36 TD’d, 17 INT’s and 61.3% Completion %. Lastly, Jameis with new weapons and second half of 2016 defense takes us to the playoffs this year.… Read more »

Naplesfan

36 TDs isn’t really that many in today’s NFL, where quality offenses have quarterbacks throwing 40, 45, even 50 TD in a season. Ditto with the yards … 4,750 yards is clearly a very good total, but there are quarterbacks playing today IN OUR DIVISION – I’m talking Drew Brees and Matt Ryan who routinely throw for more yards than that in a season. Brees threw more than 4,750 yards in 7 of his last 8 seasons (and missed 4,750 by only a little more than a hundred yards in one season) and has thrown more than 5,000 yards five… Read more »

fredster

Love Jameis. I’ve caught flack here for saying he needs to improve his accuracy. The stats don’t lie. He’s young and I don’t agree you can’t teach accuracy 100%. Especially if it’s bad mechanics driving the inconsistency. He will be fine and I bet this area improves as the offense,weapons,run game,O line, etc improve. Would be shame to see D. Jackson streaking wide open for TD’s and getting missed! I thought the stat of being better on left is very odd. Like you said it’s not typically the case for righty’s. So if he can make the more difficult left… Read more »

surferdudes

If he goes between 61, 62 %, 30 T.D.’s, can keep the picks under 15, 4,400 yds, I’d be happy.

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Rut

This might sound a little ridiculous but I don’t think we can even start to judge the guys throwing ability until after this year. So far he’s only ever had Evans. VJax, who is my favorite player of all time, just wasn’t the same player Winston rookie year. He was slower, couldn’t get open as easily, and the biggest drop was his ability to make those contested catches that were really his bread and butter. And this past year, we all know how VJ played. Not well. Hump is a special little guy, but I think I can speak for… Read more »

Jack

Winston will win some games for his efforts and lose others. When he’s on, he can be electrifying.

Stats prediction: 4,300 yards, 63.1%, 32 TDs, 13 INTs

Winston is so gifted over the middle of the field that I cannot ignore the dynamic created between OJ Howard and Cameron Brate. Safeties and linebackers are going to have their hands full. Winston’s completion percentage will improve significantly this year.

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jerseybucsfan

Great piece. Nice realistic breakdown but not at all depressing. Remember that this team finished 6-2 with the beat-up offense up and down. IMO he will take more pressure off the D and vice versa.
62.8 percent, 4220 yards, 35 touchdowns, 12 INTs.

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scubog

After searching for a QB for 40 years; regardless of whether his completion % is 59 or 62, the 23 year old Jameis Winston, in just two years, has shown me he is the best we’ve ever had under center. He has the competitive fire in his belly that the team sorely needed. He has the work ethic to set an example. He has the charisma to lead. He has “it”, and “it” can’t be taught. Trevor pointing out that Jameis prefers throwing to the left probably made drdneast an even bigger Winston fan. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00… Read more »

jp414

Exactly. He already shows all the signs of being the BEST QB Tampa has EVER had. Freeman showed some real promise in 2nd season (25TDs, 6 INTs), along with a similar problem in throwing mechanics (Freeman seemed much more accurate when throwing on the run in 2010), but we all know about Freeman’s regression in his 3rd year. We still don’t know if Winston will ultimately prove to be the better pick over Mariota (Mariota has NO problems with throwing accuracy, but doesn’t throw deep as often). Mariota is obviously a more careful, West-Coast style passer, and would not have… Read more »

Buc-n-Philly Fan

This was kick ass Trevor! A few points that I think have influenced some of Jameis’ results in 2016: 1.Logan Mankins gone and our offensive line trying to adjust and allowing too much pressure 2.Injuries to our backfield coupled with #1 above lead to teams knowing we were going to pass the ball 3.Numerous injuries to our WR corps that limited the ball to one side of the field (Mike Evans lines up mostly on the left too..hmmm. Maybe this lead to more perceived poor throws to the right???) as well as receivers with no continuity with Jameis 4.Injuries to… Read more »

plopes808

Agreed. Jameis obviously has an accuracy issue, especially early in the game. There is no excuse for that and he needs to work on it…I believe he is. But we can’t forget that Jameis had ONE receiving option and NO running game last year. Not only did they know we were going to throw, but they knew who the target was.

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Naplesfan

Are you quite sure his completion percentage will be 61.7%, and not 61.715%?

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RootsCrew

First off, great article and breakdown. I just wanted the media to add context to the turnover issues Jameis has had since 2014. Not excusing them, but also not just looking at 33 INT’s and blasting him in articles without adding some context. Secondly, Jameis missed receivers high in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. It’s just his miss. Has been since high school. Probably always will be his miss. I do believe his baseball motion, plus sloppy/average mechanics contribute to his high throws. But he’s working on his mechanics every year & will continue to improve. Having watched Jameis at… Read more »

Naplesfan

Trevor, you’ve done your typical excellent job of analyzing Jameis Winston’s throwing performance using both advanced metrics and film study. Very enlightening. As for projecting Jameis’ future performance, that’s tough to do. I do imagine that the Bucs have come to the same conclusions as you, and know very well where Jameis needs to improve his technique. Koetter isn’t going to change his vertical throwing offense, and to capitalize on it Jameis definitely needs to improve, particularly to the center and right portions downfield. He and our offense are not going to become West Coast dink’n dunkers. How much will… Read more »

Naplesfan

Read an interesting piece on Pewter Plank by Allen Schechter about Jameis’ interceptions that I did not realize: When Jameis is passing inside the red zone, he is 34-1 TD to INT. Meaning that Jameis takes very good care of the ball when he’s in scoring position, to use a baseball term. Additionally, most of his INTs occur when the team was behind in score – 25 of his 33 INTs. Meaning, that when we’re behind, Jameis’ INTs tend to result from his efforts to climb back into the game .. in other words, trying to put the team on… Read more »

bEubanks11

I’m getting in a little late on this one so I’ll keep it short. Great article Trevor! Lots of fun. I’ll put my hat in at 64.3% for 4137 yards, 31 tds to 11 interceptions

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