Jameis Winston will determine how far the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go. It’s a simple truth applicable to basically any NFL team that doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of talent at every other position: you win or lose mostly by virtue of the quality of your quarterback’s play. That’s just how the NFL works.
So far, the Bucs have gone pretty much where Winston goes: solid, mid-table finishes with the potential for much more. A little year-on-year growth and a lot of perspective for the future.
So much perspective that SB Nation’s Adam Stites writes Winston has been “on the verge of greatness” and is set to take his place “among the NFL’s best quarterbacks.” Sounds goods to me!
Stites mostly cites Winston’s year-on-year improvement, his massive potential and the Bucs’ new, improved supporting cast as evidence that he’ll take that next step sooner rather than later. And that’s basically what most analysts seem to think, too.
If Winston can continue to grow as a player and a passer, he’s well-positioned to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and take the Buccaneers on a playoff run for the first time since Jon Gruden was the team’s head coach. And just because it’s Jameis, it’ll probably come with some ridiculousness, too.
That sounds about right. Basically: get a bit more accurate, especially on the deep passes, and throw a couple fewer interceptions and we’ve got an outstanding quarterback on our hands, and the Bucs’ new supporting cast will make it a lot easier for him to do so.
Sidenote: I think the importance of those interceptions is a little overstated. Winston has certainly thrown too many, but that doesn’t necessarily say much about the quality of his play. It’s very easy to go from 13 to 18 interceptions without actually playing any worse, because it’s just five bad plays and/or bits of bad luck on a sample of ~550 throws in any given year.
In any case, Winston is poised for greatness. He’s putting in the work, he has the supporting cast, now he just has to show it on the field in the regular season.