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The Buccaneers need to protect Jameis Winston

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

While Winston has been sacked a reasonable 25 times, which is tied for 18th in the league, he has been hit 99 other times. That doesn't include the times he's scrambled and run the ball.

From an article written by Rick Brown for ESPN "Jameis Winston was hit too often this season, Bucs coordinator says".

Out of 535 passing attempts, Winston was hit 99 times. That equates to 18.5% of the times Winston is throwing the ball. Rounding up, that is roughly 20% of the times that the ball is forced out earlier. In other words, one out of every five times Winston throws he gets hit.

That stat does not include getting sacked! When we add the 25 sacks, then Winston is getting tagged 124 times. The percentage of QB hits and sacks is 23%. One out of every four chances that Winston drops back to pass, he is getting hit or sacked.

Pro Football Journal has a season in review about "More Stats You Need to Know - QB Hits, 2015", which claims accuracy is affected by hits by roughly 20%, as well as increasing the chances of interceptions.

Using only the QB hits on Winston, one out of every five times Winston drops back to pass his accuracy drops 20% from his usual accuracy. That is a massive sample size affected for our rookie QB. And it should speak volumes that Winston was still able to be a Pro Bowl QB under such duress, as well as how we see the Bucs' offensive line.

Winston has helped mask our offensive line pass protection as he had only 27 sacks. Football Outsiders has the pass protection ranked 14th overall and a component in that ranking is sacks. Similarly, for run blocking rank, RB Doug Martin has the most broken tackles and yards after contact, but the rate our RB's get stopped at the line of scrimmage or behind it was still at 20%, a stuffed ranking of 13th, but our run blocking overall ranking is 9th. You can read more about our offensive line productions with this article:  Offensive Line, Great or Propped up?

Hopefully, with a year under the belts of our rookies at left tackle and right guard, the offensive line can improve in pass blocking as well as run blocking. Yet Winston is not going to let the offensive line be the only component in improving the pass blocking.  Winston wants to be quicker. Being quicker on his feet can help avoid getting hit.  Here's his offseason goal from a MMQB article by Peter King:

Winston: "I want to work on my foot quickness. I believe I have good pocket presence, but you never can be too good with your feet, so I have to make sure my feet are quicker. Sometimes I get too wide in the pocket, and I need to keep my feet up under me and be a little smoother in the pocket. I need to improve everything, really, but I just have to get quicker."

Koetter is doing his best to mask our offensive trench deficiency, but the organization must still add better talent to protect its young franchise QB.  Our rookie QB getting hit close to 100 times in a season is not  a good thing for the QB nor the offensive line pass.  The number of times Winston got tagged should help bring the inflated production of our offensive line back down to earth.