Pro Football Focus has done another one of those rankings things they so love to do. I mean, they really love them. Week after week after week after week after week. Sometimes doing multiple Top 100 Players lists in one offseason, each with a slightly different conceit to justify them all. Lists sell, is what I’m saying. At least for PFF.
Anyway, this time they ranked all the NFL’s quarterback situations. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come in 15th, which would have been awesome just two years ago, and now is mostly disappointing. As usual, the ranking is based almost entirely on the contestable grades the outfit gave players last years, and Winston was downgraded for his awful first game performance.
If you take out the opening game, Jameis Winston’s grade would have threatened the top-10 last season in his rookie year. He had two more poor games against one of the league’s best defenses in Carolina, and outside of that, he looked like a very good player, with some extreme highs and not a lot else to dislike. Winston has always had the potential to have a bad day at the office, and I suspect those won’t ever entirely disappear, but if he can eliminate one or two of them over a season, he will quickly become a very good QB. Those three games account for more than half of his 15 interceptions on the year (eight), and he had seven games in which he didn’t turn the ball over. Mike Glennon was supposed to be hot trade property with Winston arriving, and while that hasn’t materialized, the reasons for it remain, as he has shown the ability to start and win games.
This is, overall, a pretty fair assessment of the Tampa Bay quarterback. Jameis Winston did have a poor start to the season, though I don’t think we’ll see the likes of that again. It had all the hallmarks of a first rookie quarterback game, with Winston getting acclimated to the speed of the game and just showing some overall nervousness about his first regular season performance. It happens, and he showed almost no signs of that the rest of the way — so there’s really no reason to take that first game into account, if you want to project his performance into the future.
That’s not true for the two Panthers games, though. There he faced one of the league’s best defenses, and couldn’t handle what they were throwing at him. That’s no shame, really: the Panthers were a tough nut to crack for even the best quarterbacks in the NFL (except in the Super Bowl), and Winston, as promising as he was, was still just a rookie.
Overall, 15th feels a bit harsh but not at all unfair. It’s certainly fair if we just look at Winston’s performance last year. If we project that into the future, it might be a bit pessimistic — but then it’s unclear to what extent they’re really projecting as to just looking at last year’s grades.