For the first time since 1987, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick and selected former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The area is abuzz with excitement for the Bucs news quarterback, one the fans and the organization hope becomes a franchise quarterback, and can lead the Buccaneers back to the playoffs for the first time since Jon Gruden roamed the sidelines at Raymond James Stadium.
PewterReport.com has chronicled Winston’s practice reports throughout training camp, and now breaks down his performances in the preseason games.
Winston’s First Drive – Bucs 0, Browns 0
Winston’s first pass was a check-down to tight end Luke Stocker and was incomplete due to an errant throw on second down. On third down, Winston took a coverage sack by Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. Winston was 0-of-1 and sacked once
Winston’s Second Drive – Browns 7, Bucs 0
On the first play of the drive, Winston hit Louis Murphy with a nice 22-yard gain across the middle out to the Tampa Bay 46. On first down, Winston was pressured and threw an incomplete pass. After a false start by Ali Marpet, the rookie right guard gave up a second sack to Bryant on second-and-15. On third-and-22, Winston threw a nice pass to tight end Austin Seferian Jenkins for 14 yards, but the Bucs were forced to punt on fourth-and-7 at the 49-yard line. Winston was 2-of-3 for 36 yards and sacked once
Winston’s Third Drive – Browns 14, Bucs 0
After two handoffs lost one yard, Winston threw a really bad interception on third-and-11 as he was getting blitzed up the middle by Cleveland linebacker Christian Kirksey. Reserve cornerback Charles Gaines returned the pass, which was intended for wide receiver Russell Shepard, 18 yards down to the Tampa Bay 12. Winston was 0-of-1 with one interception
Winston’s Fourth Drive – Browns 14, Bucs 0
After an 8-yard run by Charles Sims, Sims gained one yard on the next play, but Doug Martin was stopped for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 28, which set up a punt. Winston was 0-of-0
Winston’s Fifth Drive – Browns 17, Bucs 0
On first-and-10 at the Cleveland 45, Winston was poised in the pocket and tossed a 26-yard strike to wide receiver Vincent Jackson at the 19-yard line. On the next play, Winston handed off to Martin, who scampered off left tackle for a touchdown. Winston was 1-of-1 for 26 yards
Winston’s Sixth Drive – Browns 17, Bucs 7
After a 10-yard run by Martin, Winston’s slant to Jackson was almost intercepted on first down. On third-and-6 from the Cleveland 45, Winston hung tough in the pocket and rifled a pass to Jackson across the middle for 12 yards and a first down. On second-and-3 at the 26, Winston’s pass to wide receiver Louis Murphy was nearly picked off by cornerback Tramon Williams. On third down, Winston’s pass to Jackson was broken up by Gaines, which forced a 43-yard field goal attempt that was missed by Connor Barth. Winston was 1-of-4 for 12 yards
Winston’s Seventh Drive – Browns 17, Bucs 7
Winston’s first pass was a wide receiver screen to Murphy for a gain of four yards to the Tampa Bay 27. On second-and 6, Winston scrambled to his left and gained five yards to set up a third-and-1 at the 32-yard line. On third down, Winston’s pass attempt to Jackson was batted down. Winston was 1-of-2 for 4 yards with 5 yards rushing
Winston’s Eighth Drive – Browns 17, Bucs 7
With just 20 seconds left in the first half, Winston’s ugly pass to Seferian-Jenkins was incomplete across the middle. Winston came back and found Sims for a 12-yard gain on a screen pass down to the Tampa Bay 42. On the last play of second quarter, Winston was sacked for a loss of 10 yards. Winston was 1-of-2 for 12 yards and was sacked once
Winston’s Ninth Drive – Browns 17, Bucs 7
Winston came out for the first series of the third quarter. His first pass of the second half was on an out route to Murphy, who dropped it. On third-and-6 from the Tampa Bay 33, Winston was sacked for the fourth time right up the middle by safety Landon Feichter. Winston was 0-for-1 and was sacked once
After the game, Winston discussed getting sacked and the pressure he faced. The rookie quarterback did not blame his offensive line for the breakdowns, instead saying that he didn’t call the right protections to combat Cleveland’s 3-4 defense, which was in a lot of Under fronts.
“I felt like the offensive line did good, but I have to get the ball out faster,” Winston said. “They brought a lot of pressure. We got a lot of different looks and we didn’t want to show a lot of our ‘get-it-outs.’ … My ankle is good. I just have to get better. This was definitely a learning thing.”
“I have another thing to learn from from a blitz protection standpoint. I have to see things and get us in the right protection calls. It’s a learning experience. … They came with a different game plan than what we expected. We had to go to different formation and go into 11 personnel in the game.”
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith seemed to blame the offensive line for failing to protect the team’s first overall draft pick against a ferocious Cleveland pass rush.
“I wouldn’t say there were many assignment errors,” Smith said. “They beat us up front. Yes, the middle was a part of that.”
As Winston’s preseason play comes to a close, Smith liked the progress the rookie made, but refused to suggest that he took a step back against the Browns.
“We like what he’s done throughout, but tonight he’s a part of a bad effort we had as a football team,” Smith said.
Winston acknowledged that he wants to play in the fourth preseason game, but Smith indicated that he’s going to stick to his plan of not playing the starters in the finale at Miami next Thursday.
“Obviously, any time there’s football I want to play, but it’s going to be Coach’s decision,” Winston said.
PewterReport.com Analysis: Winston easily had his worst performance of the preseason, completing just 6-of-15 passes for 90 yards with no touchdowns and one interception against Cleveland. Winston struggled with pressure in his face as the Browns blitzed the A gap with linebackers and safeties. Winston was sacked four times and hurried throughout the game as center Evan Smith guards Logan Mankins, Ali Marpet and Garrett Gilkey struggled mightily in pass protection. You can bet that Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will be blitzing the A gap plenty in the 2015 regular season opener until Tampa Bay figures out a way to pick it up and protect the interior pocket for the rookie quarterback. Winston also had a bad interception, throwing the ball blindly while being sacked, and could have thrown three or four more picks if the Browns defenders would have hung on to the ball. If Winston doesn’t play in the preseason finale, he enters the regular season without throwing a touchdown pass and with two interceptions.
Winston’s Final Stats: 6-of-15 (40 percent) for 90 yards with no TDs and one INT, 1 carry for 5 yards and was sacked four times
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.