The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like a terrible team on Sunday, and Jameis Winston's debut was disappointing. While not unexpected for a rookie quarterback, Winston looked uncomfortable and not ready for the speed of the NFL. Greg Cosell of NFL Films saw the same thing, and he was concerned about the Bucs, noting that they would not be a good team this year, and Winston -- who he says has to speed up everything he does.
"I think their offensive line will get better," Greg Cosell said on the FantasyGuru matchup podcast. "Simply because they're starting two rookies and they're likely to improve. But at this point that's a bad mix for Jameis Winston, because Jameis Winston is not the kind of quarterback that can make an average to below-average offensive line better, because he's not a quick-footed guy. He needs to be protected well and effectively and if he's not, he's going to struggle."
Cosell noted that the Titans defense moved around a lot to confuse the Bucs' offensive line, and did so successfully. Adjusting to stunts has been an issue for the Bucs for years on end and it's not exactly made better by starting two rookies, who are still adjusting to the speed and power of the NFL. That's an issue that a comfortable pocket quarterback can compensate for to an extent, but Winston's not at the point where he can do that.
"Jameis Winston is in a tough spot and he has a long way to go," Cosell said on the Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone. "He really does not have very good feet. He's got a tendency to gather at the top of his drop to get his feet under him, and that's really problematic when he's under center. He's not very comfortable or efficient moving in the pocket, he has to improve in that area. I think because the offensive line he's playing behind is not very good at all, now there's a concern as to whether he'll start to perceive pressure. He actually did that a few times in this game. He's got some issues that he needs to work on, that'll just be made worse as well by the team that he's on."
Winston's reaction to pressure was probably the biggest concern for the quarterback to come out of that game, especially so because that was a major strength of his in college and even in the team's second preseason game. I expect his problems in this game to mostly be an artifact of it being his first NFL regular season game, but there's a chance that this is a structural problem -- and that would make it very, very difficult for Winston to consistently succeed in the NFL.
The other major problem was his slow and sloppy feet. His footwork was, by and large, a mess and his mechanics continued to be sluggish. As we see so often, quarterbacks can work on their mechanics for months on end only to revert once they hit the field. It's just a really tough thing to fix, but it's something that Winston absolutely has to improve on if he wants to be a quality quarterback. Right now, he's sluggish dropping back and his transition from dropback to set up takes far too long, which hurts every other aspect of the passing game.
On the bright side, Winston showed some flashes of quick feet, good dropbacks and good mechanics. Only on a few plays, but the fact that he showed those flashes suggests that it's something he should be able to improve upon with time. Let's hope that improvement happens as quickly as possible.