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Woes of Winston – Are the Turnovers As Bad As They Seem?

If you listen to pundits and a certain segment of the fanbase, Jameis Winston is a promising young quarterback in this league with one fatal flaw – he’s careless with the football. At least that’s the narrative. Yet, how accurate is it? Is Jameis Winston really not living up to his draft status by becoming a turnover prone game killing quarterback whose greed outweighs his value to the franchise? Or are his issues somewhat overblown?

In this article, we’re going to break down all 18 of Winston’s turnovers as well as the other 8 other fumbles the quarterback had that didn’t end up in enemy hands. Jameis Winston threw 11 interceptions and fumbled 15 times (losing 7) in 13 starts in 2017.

Let’s see just how bad it was.

Week 3 At Minnesota

Winston’s stat line: 

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
@ MIN L 17-34 28 40 70 328 8.2 2 3 2 12 80 1 4 4 0 2 0

In his first turnover of 2017, at the 4:13 mark of the 2nd quarter with Tampa Bay trailing 14-3, Winston badly underthrows Desean Jackson, allowing the defensive back to make a play on the ball and he makes an easy interception.

Fault: Winston. D-Jax did his job getting behind the DB, Winston just threw a bad ball.

Winston’s 2nd interception was even worse. With the Bucs trailing by two touchdowns,  he fires off a pass into double coverage and it’s an easy pick. Jackson did seem to get bumped and didn’t exactly run his hardest on the route, so he should take some of the blame as well since it looks like Winston was throwing to where he thought Jackson would be. Yet, the throw was so far off the mark, I’m not sure Jackson would have gotten there even if he had ran his route hard.

Fault: Winston.

Poor decision making. That’s what this one was. Winston had made up his mind he was going to throw it up to Mike Evans, coverage be damned. There’s not one, not two, not three but FIVE purple jerseys around the receiver.

Fault: Winston.

Jameis was also credited with two fumbles in this game that were recovered by Tampa Bay. Let’s take a look at those.

Ali Marpet was making his second career start at center and it showed up in this one. Marpet sailed this snap high, Winston recovered and tried to make a desperation throw which nearly ended in even more disaster. Still, this one is on Marpet.

Fault: Marpet.

The second fumble charged to Winston was yet another poor snap from Marpet, who rolled the football to Winston and got his quarterback’s clock cleaned because of the delay. Was this the play where Winston got hurt for the first time? We’ll never know.

Fault: Marpet.

Week 4 NY Giants

Winston’s stat line: 

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 NYG W   25-23 22 38 57.9 332 8.7 3 0 1 9 113 4 12 3 0 1 0

An overall clean game by Jameis, but he did have a fumble charged to him. Let’s take a look.

For the second week in a row, Marpet dribbles a snap in the shotgun to Winston, who heaves it into the first row as JPP closes in. If your keeping score, that’s 3 Winston fumbles, none of which were his fault.

Fault: Marpet.

Week 5 New England

 Winston’s stat line: 

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 NE L   14-19 26 46 56.5 334 7.3 1 0 2 15 86.7 3 11 3.7 0 2 0

Winston was charged a fumble on this end around to Benard Reedy. I think this one could go on Winston because he did place the ball high on Reedy’s breastplate instead of in his stomach, making the mercurial wideout bobble and drop the ball.

Fault: Winston.

The Bucs are trying to rally in the fourth quarter and Marpet’s snap is just a little to the right of Jameis. Winston probably should have been able to handle the errant snap but it was still off the mark.

Fault: Both.

Week 7 At Buffalo

Winston’s Stat Line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 @ BUF L   27-30 32 44 72.7 384 8.7 3 1 1 6 112.3 1 0 0 0 2 1

Are you beginning to see why the Bucs signed Ryan Jensen? Once again, Marpet and Winston fail in the most basic play in football, the center-to-quarterback exchange. When the QB is under center, these plays are a little hard to determine who truly is at fault, so we’ll just hang this on both.

Fault: Both.

Trailing 10-6 and in enemy territory, Donovan Smith is whipped by the Buffalo defender who hits Winston from his blind side while throwing. Jameis had no chance on this play.

Fault: Smith.

Still trailing 10-6, Winston tries to force a pass into a double covered Cameron Brate. You know the result.

Fault: Winston

Week 8 Carolina

Winston’s Stat Line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 CAR L   3-17 21 38 55.3 210 5.5 0 2 3 16 49.2 3 13 4.3 0 1 1

The Panthers always seem to bring the worst out in Jameis, and this game was no exception.

This is one of those fumbles that gets under your skin. Tampa Bay is trailing 7-0 in the 2nd quarter and protection breaks down. Rather than just pull the football down, Winston tries to make a play, losing the handle on it and costing his team a possession in scoring position.

Fault: Winston.

Down 10-3,  J.R. Sweezy or Demar Dotson fail to pick up a blitzing DB, who hits Winston from behind as he throws the football. The ball goes straight into the air and a Panther makes a diving interception. I don’t really see how you could blame Winston on this play. It looked like Winston was getting ready to unleash a bomb toward Desean Jackson, who had gotten behind the Panthers’ secondary.

Fault: Offensive Line.

Now down 17-3, Winston tries to force a pass into Cam Brate, who is well covered. Sadly, you could see a Bucs receiver to Winston’s right (I believe it might be Chris Godwin) open. This is one of those plays where Winston pre-determined he was going to Brate and didn’t look anywhere else on the field, then he threw it behind Brate, giving Keuchly a shot at the pick.

Fault: Winston.

Week 13 At Green Bay

Winston’s Stat line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 @ GB L   20-26 21 32 65.6 270 8.4 2 0 7 40 112.8 5 18 3.6 0 2 1

It was another game the Bucs really should have won, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

This is the one you always see when the “experts” are talking about Jameis. It’s simply a play where the Bucs are in scoring range and Winston simply tries to do too much, is blindsided from behind, loses the football and it’s returned for a touchdown. This one’s one Winston because he felt the pressure but failed to secure the football.

Fault: Winston.

Here are the Bucs again in scoring range and once again, the center, this time Evan Smith, can’t get the football to the quarterback. Winston’s charged with the fumble, but he had no chance here and made the smart decision in just falling on it.

Fault: Evan Smith.


Point blank range, and one more charged to Winston but if you watch closely, you can see Peyton Barber stumble as he heads forward to take the handoff, throwing off the timing of the play and the ball pops loose. This one was just a bit of bad luck, but I don’t see how you could blame Jameis Winston on this play.

Fault: Football Gods.

Week 14 Detroit

Winston’s Stat Line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 DET L   21-24 26 38 68.4 285 7.5 2 2 3 18 86 2 10 5 0 1 1

This interception is all Winston. He rolls out on a boot and instead of firing it to one of the two open receivers (including Mike Evans), he forces an off-balance pass toward Desean Jackson and the corner undercuts it for a pick.

Fault: Winston.

Interception #2 in this one and you could say Winston overthrew the pass, but keep an eye on the intended receiver, #80 OJ Howard. This was a spot pass, where Winston expects Howard to be at a spot. The problem is the Lions linebacker grabs Howard off the line of scrimmage and again later in the route, preventing Howard from getting to his spot. As you can also see, Winston already threw the pass, Howard just can’t get there.

Fault: Refs (Should have been interference).

I really don’t know what Jameis is thinking here. Perhaps he was trying to throw the ball away? Regardless, he’s hit and the ball pops loose and it’s ruled to be a fumble.

Fault: Winston.

Week 15 Atlanta

Winston Stat line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 ATL L   21-24 27 35 77.1 299 8.5 3 0 2 10 130.5 3 18 6 0 1 0

Caleb Benenoch got whipped by the Falcons Tak McKinley who hits Winston. This time it’s on Winston as he felt the pressure, he just didn’t secure the football. Benenoch recovered to prevent a turnover.

Fault: Both Benenoch for the crap block and Winston for poor ball security.

Week 16 at Carolina

Winston’s Stat Line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 @ CAR L   19-22 21 27 77.8 367 13.6 1 0 6 41 131.1 3 6 2 0 3 3

It’s the Panthers, so of course, they get turnovers from Winston but this first one wasn’t really his fault. Caleb Benenoch gives up penetration on a bull rush by Wes Horton and he’s hit as the ball is released. I don’t know, this one could have been considered a pass – it was reviewed and upheld. There wasn’t much Winston could do on this play.

Fault: Benenoch.

Game tied at 3 and the Bucs are driving and the ole center-to-quarterback exchange rears its ugly head again. This time Joe Hawley fails to get the ball to Winston. Again, these are hard to determine fault, but it looks like Hawley was a little low on the snap.

Fault: Hawley

Down 22-19 and the Bucs are looking to take back the lead after the defense surrendered. Unfortunately for Jameis, Kevin Pamphile surrendered as well and Jameis got blasted from behind. Once again, I can’t find Jameis at fault in this one. He doesn’t even have time to set up before Short is in the backfield and driving him into the turf.

Fault: Pamphile.

Week 17 – New Orleans

Winston’s Stat line:

Opp Result Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
 NO W   31-24 28 51 54.9 363 7.1 1 3 2 18 59.5 5 32 6.4 1

 

Jameis came into this game with two goals. Win and get Mike Evans to 1,000 yds receiving on the season. Well, in effort to get that feat for Evans, Winston through the ball into jeopardy. In this play, Winston threw into triple coverage and the safety made a terrific play on the ball to snipe the INT.

Fault: Winston.

Jameis spots Peyton Barber beating a linebacker on a wheel route late, but throws it off his back foot late, forcing an underthrow and allowing the linebacker to make a play on the ball.

Fault: Winston.

Jameis never gives up on a play and in the last turnover of the season, you see Jameis being Jameis, avoiding the rush and getting a throw into the end zone. A lot of times, this ends up being good things for Tampa Bay but this time, Winston throws it into triple coverage and it gets picked off. Now, Mike Evans does hesitate for a moment, perhaps thinking Winston got sacked so he doesn’t end up being where Winston thinks he should be. Still, you just can’t make that throw in this situation in a close game where your team has a chance to at least kick a field goal to take the lead.

Fault: Winston.

The Tally

Total Mishaps: 26

Jameis’ Fault: 14

Fumbles by Jameis this Season: 15

Fumbles caused by a bad snap: 7

Conclusion

53% of Winstons mishaps in 2016 were the result of poor decision making or ball security by Jameis Winston. The rest could fall on the receivers, the running backs, and the offensive line. People looked at Winston’s high fumble number and freaked out – but when the center fails to get the ball to you 7 times and your automatically charged those as a fumble on your record, that number is a bit askew.

Does Jameis need to improve his decision making and ball security? Absolutely he does, but to me, it doesn’t appear to be as terrible as many make it out to be. Get him a center that can get him the damn football, as the Bucs did with Ryan Jensen, and those fumble numbers come down. Eliminate those blindside hits and it should go down even more (and he should be healthier). Quenton Nelson anybody?

As for the interceptions, Winston had the lowest total of interceptions of his career. In fact, he threw an interception in only 5 of his 13 starts this past season. He had a career-low 2.5% interception percentage (percentage of times intercepted vs. his pass attempts). This while posting career highs in completion percentage, 300 yd passing games and yds per game passing. Had he played all 16 games, he was projected to have his 4th straight 4,000 yd passing season (4,312).

Now you see the method to General Manager Jason Licht’s madness to strengthen the trenches this off-season. There’s little reason to doubt that if he’s allowed to play all 16 games, he will have a banner year for the Bucs.

J.C. De La Torre

J.C. De La Torre

JC De La Torre is formerly a columnist/blogger for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blog site BucsNation.com where in 2016, he was nominated as best sportswriter in Tampa Bay by Creative Loafing. Previously, he served as a featured columnist for Bleacher Report on Tampa Bay sports, an editor and featured columnist for SB Nation Tampa Bay covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Gators, wrote for NFL.com’s Blog Blitz and contributed to Pewter Report, one of the top magazines on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. JC is also a filmmaker, comic writer and rabid Whovian.

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