The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want Jameis Winston to be more accurate and more focused on the details. That’s the message the team’s coaches had for him when they talked to the media on Thursday.
“Everything from precision and accuracy,” quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian said. “That’s what we’ve emphasized, is making sure ball location is precise. But the timing of his release, his drop, mechanics obviously play a big part of that, his release mechanics play a big part of that. He’s worked on all of it and continues to work on all of it and improve on all of it.”
This is some shocking stuff, of course: coach wants his quarterback to be more accurate and precise. But, well, it’s important: one of the biggest critiques of Winston in college was inconsistent accurate, and that has carried over into his pro career, unsurprisingly.
Winston did get better in that area from year on to year two, though, going from completing 58.3% to 60.8% of his passes, and he should continue to get better there as well. But some inconsistency is likely to remain in his passing—that’s just who Winston is as a passer.
Similarly, Winston is a risk-taker. This is a good thing: it’s very hard to teach quarterbacks who are overly cautious to take more risks, while it’s easier to rein in quarterbacks who are a little over-aggressive.
“There’s certain situations where we just maybe need to check it down, add a couple yards to the punt and make the other team’s offense go a little bit further,” Bajakian said. “He’s getting a better and better understanding of that, and that’s part of a growth process that he’s gone through since day one.”
Of course, the risk here is that you’re taking away what makes Winston special. An interception is bad, but continual punting makes him Alex Smith, and that’s not good either.
Ultimately, though, Jameis Winston is probably never going to be a risk-free, precision passer. There’s some inaccuracy and some risk inherent in his play. He’s much closer to Brett Favre than he is to Tom Brady, in that respect.
That’s fine: Winston will do just fine. But the Bucs have to make sure they’re not trying to turn him into something he’s not. Restrict his options, put him into a tight straitjacket and you’re likely to get stifled and somewhat messy results.
Let Winston play and improvise a little, though, and give him the room to make some magic happen, and you’re likely to get some great results—with some risky, erratic throws, and everything that comes with that.