"I've never had a season like this, but it's good to have a season like this," he said. "I think it actually makes me better as a quarterback because things are not always going good and when you get to the next level or even in life, when things are not going your way, you just can't hide up under a rock."
This was a quote from Jameis Winston on his 2014 season at Florida State University, FSU. I used this quote in an article I wrote over two years ago called "Building a Case for Jameis Winston". It was an article lobbying for Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans to consider Winston as its future quarterback instead of Marcus Mariota. Who knew that this would be foreshadowing.
The gist of the article was depicting how Winston can carry a team that was lacking some weapons on offense, namely a lack of a run game. FSU lost its starting center, Bryan Stork, to the NFL between 2013 and 2014. During 2014 season, starting left tackle Cam Irving was switched to center and that helped the hemorrhaging on the offensive line. 2016 NFL draftee RB Dalvin Cook was a running back for the Seminoles in 2014.
It has been two seasons past since Winston was drafted by the Bucs. Let us see a quick snapshot of two years in the NFL:
How eerily similar Winston's first two seasons in Tampa Bay are to his two years at FSU. No run game? Not a problem. Winston just kept chugging along. He is actually better in his second season in the NFL than his second season in the NCAA.
Now, let us inspect his individual works.
Again, Winston is showing his game was made for the NFL when comparing between consecutive seasons. Winston is improving despite not having a competent run game. The bad trend I notice in both his work at FSU and TB is the turnover margin. That is one aspect of his game that he must be more cognizant about because winning the turnover margin in the NFL is a much bigger factor.
The offense struggled this year for the Bucs. Yet despite the offensive struggle, Winston was impressive as he was able to do this without a run game and only one true wide receiver threat for most of the season.
We notice the slight improvements in his game at the NFL level, but sometimes we do not see how those little improvements add up to something more. Winston was ranked 2nd on "Average Air yards to Sticks", reflecting that Winston was the second best quarterback on third downs.
Just imagine if Winston were given a better run blocking offensive line, or more weapons at receiver positions, or another pass catching tight end. If Winston slightly improves yet again, then he is well on his way to a very promising trajectory and the Bucs fans will be sated - we have a franchise QB.