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Building a case for Jameis Winston

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the owners for the first pick overall in the 2015 NFL draft.  There are many ways they can go with the first pick such as work on the defense or work on the offense. Houston has JJ Watt and is not in the playoffs. Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers and are in the playoffs. With a number one pick, a team can make it into the playoffs with a top quarterback more easily than with a top defensive lineman.

So now the choice to make is between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. A majority of the nation love to select Marcus Mariota, that population includes Bucs Nation. Mariota has an immaculate touchdown to interception ratio of 38 TDs to 2 INTs. He also has a passer rating of 186.3. What is there not to like with Mariota?

Before I venture too far, let us first recap the Bucs' season in one nice chart.

Tampa Bay Bucs

Stats During Lovie Smith

Year

Rank/ Yards

Total Offense

Passing offense (Yds/G)

Rushing offense (Yds/G)

PPG

Total Defense

Passing Defense (Yds/G)

Rushing Defense (Yds/G)

PPGA

2014

Rank

30th

25th

29th

29th

25th

28th

19th

25th

Yards

4672

206.1

85.9

17.3

5903

255.3

113.7

25.6

Those putrid numbers are out of 32 teams. There is a glimmer of hope to those numbers because sometimes a scheme takes some time to develop. After the bye week, the defense has been improved in the PPGA, or points per game allowed stat, of 19.80 points. That is a 10 game sample. On offense, there has been a downward trend since the bye week. Being this terrible is why Tampa Bay is the owner of the top pick in the 2015 draft.

The two quarterbacks to pick from will be introduced into a not so ideal situation. Here are a couple of charts that most people see, actually most only see the 2014 production.

Oregon Ducks

QB production

Year

QB

TDs

INTs

2012

Mariota

32

6

2013

Mariota

31

4

2014

Mariota

38

2

2014 does not include playoffs.

Florida State Seminoles

QB production

Year

QB

TDs

INTs

2013

Winston

40

10

2014

Winston

24

17

2014 does not include playoffs.

Mariota's numbers, as always, look superb, especially when comparing the 2014 season with Winston. Mariota and Oregon have a three year record of 35 - 4. Again, a superb record for three years!  At the end of those three years, Mariota won the Heisman Trophy.

Call me crazy, but I find 2014 Winston to be more impressive than 2013 Winston. Yes, better than the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner. Winston and FSU are undefeated in the past two years 26 - 0, or 27 - 0 including the Sean Maguire-led Seminoles this year over Clemson. This year's Winston is very impressive when you take in context.

Oregon Ducks

Stats During Marcus Mariota

Year

Rank/ Yards

Total Offense

Passing offense

Rushing offense

PPG

Total Defense

Passing Defense

Rushing Defense

PPGA

2012

Rank

4th

73rd

3rd

2nd

50th

57th

46th

25th

Yards

6986

222.2

315.2

49.6

4864

229.2

144.9

21.6

2013

Rank

2nd

22nd

9th

T-3rd

44th

21st

67th

13th

Yards

7345

291.5

273.5

45.5

4811

204.5

165.5

20.5

2014

Rank

2nd

11th

22nd

3rd

102nd

103rd

50th

29th

Yards

7101

308.9

237.3

46.3

5374

259.5

154.2

22.5

Florida State Seminoles

Stats During Jameis Winston

Year

Rank/ Yards

Total Offense

Passing offense (Yds/G)

Rushing offense (Yds/G)

PPG

Total Defense

Passing Defense (Yds/G)

Rushing Defense (Yds/G)

PPGA

2013

Rank

4th

15th

28th

2nd

7th

1st

18th

1st

Yards

7267

315.9

203.1

51.6

3940

156.6

124.8

12.1

2014

Rank

29th

14th

104th

28th

77th

51st

60th

30th

Yards

5651

299.8

134.8

34.8

4918

218.2

160.1

23

On defense, from 2013 to 2014, both team's productions have dropped. Looking at PPGA stats, both teams are near each other in 2014, but FSU had a huge drop, going from first overall to 30th overall in 2014. Yet neither Mariota nor Winston play defense.

Now, let us focus on offense. For passing in 2014, both quarterbacks are similar in yards per game. In the run game is where we notice a huge discrepancy. Oregon ranked 22nd overall while FSU faltered all the way to 104th.  This could help explain the difference in PPG, the Ducks ranking 3rd overall while the ‘Noles at 28th.

I will simplify the chart to focus on offense.

Oregon Ducks

QB production and Total Team Rushing

Year

QB

TDs

INTs

Total Team Rushing (yds)

Total Team Rushing Rank

2012

Mariota

32

6

4098

3rd

2013

Mariota

31

4

3556

9th

2014

Mariota

38

2

3085

22nd

2014 does not include post season.

Florida State Seminoles

QB production and Total Team Rushing

Year

QB

TDs

INTs

Total Team Rushing (yds)

Total Team Rushing Rank

2013

Winston

40

10

2844

28th

2014

Winston

24

17

1753

104th

2014 does not include post season.

Not having a competent run game hurts the offense. As Bucs fans, we already know of this, especially this year. That rushing game hurt Winston's production, but did it hurt him on the field? No. Did it hamper Mariota? Here is a list of the four games in which Oregon lost.

Oregon's Losses, 2012 - present

Score at half

Mariota

Year

Team

Score

Oregon Rushing

Oregon Year Rush Avg

Oregon

Opp

TD

INT

2014

Arizona

31 - 24

144

237.3

7

3

2

0

2013

Stanford

26 - 20

62

273.5

0

17

2

0

2013

Arizona

42 - 16

198

273.5

9

28

2

2

2012

Stanford

17 - 14

198

315.2

7

7

1

1

Oregon's offense is highly effective, but how did it not produce in these four losses?  The only connection I see is the run game. Without that run game, Mariota is contained. Notice in the first half that Oregon's offense is stifled. In all of them, not one of them is in double digits. That is drastic when you realize that Oregon's offense usually puts up about 45 points or more per game (see stats above).

Mariota does well when his offense, namely run game, does well. When that run game gets contained, then the whole offense does as well. Oregon blows teams out. FSU did the same in 2013 and pundits believed they would not be able to come back if they went down. That national championship game was the emergence of Winston, in my eyes.

While the numbers for Winston this year looks somewhat mediocre after winning the Heisman, he has helped his team remained undefeated without a competent run game. That is something the Tampa Bay Bucs have been dealing with this past year.

When things go poorly on offense, Winston can overcome such deficiencies. When things are great, Winston is better than Mariota, which is why he won the Heisman in his rookie season over Mariota. Winston just wins. 2014 season was a bad year statistically for the ‘Noles, but they remain undefeated. Here's a quote from Winston in an ABCnews article:

"I've never had a season like this, but it's good to have a season like this," he said. "I think it actually makes me better as a quarterback because things are not always going good and when you get to the next level or even in life, when things are not going your way, you just can't hide up under a rock."

Mariota has all the great numbers, but when things do not go well on offense Mariota cannot bring the team back to win. That Oregon high scoring offense gets stunted. This year, Winston's numbers may be down, but his ability to help will his team to victory is an amazing trait that many seem to dismiss. Being a top pick means both players will be heading to teams with many holes. Using the histories presented, I know of one quarterback that can thrive in a not so great atmosphere for a whole year.

To many, Winston's 2014 production pales to Mariota's 2014 production that won him a Heisman Trophy this year.  Yet with little support on offense, Winston has done something that still seems unbelievable - which is to help lead his team to be undefeated. For the Bucs offense, an offense that lacks a run game, but has some giants at receiver, this scenario is not anything new to Winston. That is Winston's floor talent.

Going by the numbers, FSU should not be undefeated. Going by FSU's offensive stats, the Seminoles are a one-dimensional team. Going by Winston's 2014 production, many state that Winston has taken a step back. Yet here the ‘Noles are... undefeated and one of the four teams in the first collegiate playoff system for FBS schools. The main component as to why they are here is due to their quarterback Jameis Winston.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a potential franchise quarterback. They are set to pick either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. The Bay's offense is a clusterbuc!  Who do you think would more likely pull out a winning situation: a quarterback who wins with support or a quarterback who wins without support? I, myself, am rooting for Winston to be a Buc because of his play this season. He is able to do things that the Bucs' current quarterbacks cannot do consistently with little aid.

Note: All stats derived from ESPN.com.