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Jameis Winston was the best in the NFL at crossing routes

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston is pretty good, and improved mildly in his second year in the NFL. He wasn’t blowing anyone away, but he was a top-15 quarterback and not that far removed from being a top-10 passer.

One area where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback did exceptionally well was the crossing route, according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, they called him the best quarterback in the NFL at targeting that route, which they define as a horizontal route with no vertical stem (that is: a sharp cut).

Winston dominated defenses when targeting crossing routes. He completed 36 of 50 passes for 529 yards, with 6 touchdowns and a 145.8 QB Rating. Winston’s impressive 72-percent completion percentage came while having the fourth-highest aDOT in the league of 10.92 yards. On passes over 25 yards, he completed all 4 to different receivers for 137 yards; 2 went for touchdowns.

It’s a cool statistic, and the fact that Winston made these relatively far down the field (compared to the league average of 8 yards from the line of scrimmage) means this isn’t just ranking dumpoffs and receivers’ abilities to run after the catch.

Winston has generally been at his best when throwing to the middle of the field, either down the seam or to underneath receivers. One interesting bit of improvement here is a lack of interceptions: Winston had an issue with recognizing underneath defenders in college and as a rookie, but it didn’t show up on these routes last season.

But, as always when Pro Football Focus gets this specific, we’re talking about a very limited number of plays. 50 attempts seem like a lot, but one broken tackle and breakaway run can make a massive difference on samples like this. So it’s important not to overstate the importance of this ranking, either.