NFL Films analyst/producer/all-around guru Greg Cosell has been doing division-by-division breakdowns of the NFL with Frank Schwab of Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner. Last week they got to the NFC South, and they dropped a whole lot of knowledge about the division and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unsurprisingly, the pair mostly focused on Jameis Winston, and Cosell had a lot of interesting things to say about him.
Most notably, Cosell loved Winston’s rookie year, but noted that he had a problem with his lower body: he just wasn’t very quick-footed in the pocket. We've seen that critique before, and I think it’s justified: Winston is a little sluggish in his dropbacks, in transferring his weight to his front foot, in his mechanics in general — especially under pressure. Luckily, that’s something he’s worked very, very hard on -- and something that Cosell thinks will get fixed now that he's not stuck playing baseball in the offseason.
Cosell had a lot more to say below, and I transcribed the most interesting commentary. If you have some time, though, make sure to listen to the whole podcast, it’s worth it.
Cosell loved Winston’s football intelligence
"I think he's a smart kid. I actually got a chance to talk to him at the Super Bowl this past year and he's a really smart kid with really good awareness. We talked about specific plays and I just loved hearing him talk, how he remembered them, I mean his eyes lit up talking about the specifics of given plays. So I think Jameis Winston is on his way to being a very good player. I’m not one of these people who makes predictions or lists, so I’m not gonna sit here and tell you he’s gonna be top three and... Let’s put it this way: the Bucs are set at quarterback."
Jameis Winston’s biggest issue is his footwork
"I like Jameis [Winston]. I thought his rookie year was good," Cosell said. "The issue for Jameis was his lower body. Because he’s not a quick-footed athlete. And people mistake the fact that he ran a few times for touchdowns for ‘oh no, he’s a lot quicker.’ Quickness in and around the pocket is a totally different thing than the ability to run, and that’s what he wasn’t good at."
"And then I talked to people, and the explanation I got was really fascinating. They said he was a baseball player, so in the offseason he never worked on his lower body. So he didn't have the movement necessary. They basically told me that there were times in training camp where when they worked on pocket movement drills he would fall down, because his body wasn’t used to doing any of that. Apparently he’s lost anywhere from 15 to 20 pounds, and he’s worked really hard on his lower body, which is exactly what he should be doing. If that’s the case and he’s much better, I think he’ll be a solid player."
The running game as the core of the offense
"I think they believe that Jameis will be a better player and reach the level that they believe he can reach, if the run game starts this offense. Jameis is very good, you know he played under center in college, he’s used to turning his back to the defense [on run fakes], he’s used to the principles of the play-action pass game.
"I think they feel this offense has to work through Doug Martin. I don’t mean that he has to carry 380 times, but I think they feel that that element of their offense — Winston under center, base personnel, base formations, the run game and everything that works off it — is the starting point for this offense."
Questions on defense
Cosell only briefly touched on the defense, but he did make one interesting observation: Grimes was declining last year, and that may continue this season. With a rookie as his most likely replacement, should he falter, that could be a big problem.
"I thought that [Brent Grimes] showed some decline last year. So that's a very interesting player to watch. And again, I liked [Vernon] Hargreaves a lot as a prospect, but he’s still a rookie. We’ll see if he steps right in and is a starter and has a real good rookie year as Marcus Peters did with Kansas City, that’s an unknown, although I really liked him as a prospect."
Mike Evans is fine, but Vincent Jackson may not be
Cosell mostly had positive things to say about Mike Evans, though he of course noted that Evans had to work on his hands. He wasn’t worried about Evans, though — he was more concerned about Vincent Jackson’s future.
"I don’t think Mike Evans is a problem. The question is how long can Vincent Jackson go? He’s up there in years, he's had some injuries now, they don't have much else. See that’s a position they're going to have to address the next offseason, because if you look at their depth chart there’s not a lot there."