Jameis Winston likes to take risks. He likes to make tough throws, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have aimed this training camp at trying to restrain him a little. One reason why he makes so many risky throws is simple: he has a very short memory. From Pewter Report:
In my two decades of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I've seen former first-round Bucs quarterbacks like Trent Dilfer and Josh Freeman get off to a rocky start with interceptions and the entire practice just goes into a downward spiral after that. Dilfer and Freeman would get visibly upset with themselves over their own mistakes in practice and you could see their body language and demeanor change. Their confidence level would decrease.
That's not the case with Winston. He shrugs of interceptions with ease.
Winston, who had his best day in training camp on Thursday, reminds me of Green Bay legend and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who compartmentalized his picks and kept firing away.
This is the one thing I love the most about Winston's game: he's fearless and has no conscience. That's a crucial trait for a successful quarterback. You can't be afraid to make the necessary throws, because then you turn into Captain Checkdown. Of course, the downside to that approach is that you actually throw interceptions. Those are to some extent inevitable, but if they get out of hand, you end up with a terrible quarterback too.
Take Brett Favre. In the popular imagination, Favre has turned into a mythical quarterback. But Favre's career wasn't without its bumps. Many, many bumps. Faver is going into the Hall of Fame and that's well-deserved, but he wasn't exactly turnover-free. He topped twenty interceptions in a season a whopping six times, and threw as many or more interceptions than touchdowns in six seasons -- and in most of those seasons, he was a major part of why the Packers didn't win.
Of course, I'd be pretty happy with Winston if his career turned into Favre's (on the field, at least), but the point is that there are two sides to the coin of having a short memory. One extreme is that you turn into Vinny Testaverde or Jay Cutler: throwing interception after interception with risky throws, and not enough production to compensate for those turnovers. But Cutler and Testaverde represent the extremes, and there are a lot of shades between those and Tom Brady -- Eli Manning, for instance, who has led the NFL in interceptions three times while still consistently leading a very productive offense.
Winston may very well look like Cutler or Testaverde as a rookie and then turn into a more measured player down the line. After all, that's the kind of thing Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck did, throwing 27 and 18 interceptions in their respective rookie seasons before becoming more careful with their throws -- though still providing for a decent amount of turnovers every year.
Successful quarterbacks exist on a spectrum. On one end, there are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Donovan McNabb, throwing ten interceptions per season while producing 20+ (or 30+ these days) touchdowns regularly. On the other end, there are Brett Favre and Eli Manning, regularly leading the league in interceptions. The number of interceptions alone won't be what determines