Jameis Winston had a pretty good second game of his career, playing a lot more comfortably and controlled than he did against the Tennessee Titans in week one. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to be happy about that, but they also have to worry whether that can continue when Winston faces a better pass rush.
"I thought [Jameis Winston] played a pretty controlled game," Greg Cosell told The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone. "The game played out where he didn't have to drop back very often, I think he only dropped back 26-25 times in the game, so he played very under control, made a number of good throws, also missed some throws, but I thought it was a game to build on. I thought their offensive line played a little better -- now they played a team without a very good pass rush."
That's going to change this week when the Buccaneers line up against the Houston Texans. Everyone knows J.J. Watt's ability to destroy any offensive lineman he lines up across from, but Jadeveon Clowney against Donovan Smith could be ugly. Yes, Clowney's struggled a little to be as impactful in the NFL as he was in college, but he's lining up against a rookie -- and one who's really looked bad against inside moves, which is probably Clowney's best and most consistent technique.
With Watt likely beating either Gosder Cherilus or Ali Marpet or both, Winston will need Smith to hold up against Clowney for him to remain comfortable in the pocket. Even so, we're unlikely to see a return to week one's disaster: Winston's lack of comfort was as much his own doing as it was the offensive line's in that game, and if last game was any indication, Winston's reaction to pressure will be much-improved. Still, there's only so much that comfort level can do if your linemen are getting beat every other snap.
That means the Bucs are once again going to have to try to minimize Winston's dropbacks -- run Doug Martin and Charles Sims, and hope the defense can keep Ryan Mallett in check so the Bucs won't be forced to throw the ball every other play. The latter should be pretty doable, especially if Deandre Hopkins can't recover from his concussion in time to suit up on Sunday, especially so given that Arian Foster is unlikely to play.