One of the struggles the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have is turnovers on offense, and one of the major factors has been quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Bucs currently rank 30th in the NFL in turnover ratio, 9 above the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers. Winston and backup Ryan Fitzpatrick have a combined 11 interceptions thrown, with Winston accounting for 6. The team also has 4 fumbles, all from Winston himself. Overall, he accounts for 67 percent of them.
According to ESPN, Winston is projected to have 16 interceptions and 11 fumbles by season’s end. When comparing previous years, this season is on par with his first two season where he finished with 15 and 18 interceptions respectively. He’s steadily gotten worse, fumbling the ball each year with 6 in 2015, 10 the following year, and 15 in 2017.
The only consistency with Winston is how much more on the losing end and the deficits he’s faced. Another intangible is the increased pressure from trying to play catchup with his opponent, whether it’s a tight game or the team is on the receiving end of a rout. The problems that plagued Winston at Florida State still affect him in the pro game. Through his 48 games played, Winston has only had 9 games where he’s not thrown an interception or fumbled the ball.
Despite missing games in the last two seasons, not much has changed at all with Winston. He missed three games in 2017 due to injury and four in 2018 due to his league suspension, but he is 1-2 with 5 passing TDs, 905 passing yards, and 1 rushing TD for the season.
With Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken focusing on making the Bucs a pass first team, there’s more pressure for Winston to succeed. Winston’s completion percentage has improved from 58 percent in his rookie year to 69 percent, and he averages 32 times sacked in a season. Having been sacked 8 times so far this season, he’s on pace to match his career high from 2016 at 35 sacks taken.
While Winston’s numbers are similar to those of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Brett Favre in their first three full seasons, the Bucs in that span have the worst record compared to the Colts, Chargers, Patriots and Packers, respectively. Winston’s numbers in today’s internet age will be scrutinized more if he’s on a losing team.
While it’s too early to say what Winston will do differently moving forward. starting with the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he’s projected to have similar stats, which is impressive considering lesser emphasis on the run. Winston and Fitzpatrick are #2 and #3 rushers respectively behind lead back Peyton Barber, which amounts to another level of disappointing from the underachieving offense.
Winston’s play will likely hinge on interim DC Mark Duffner’s defense. If the Bucs can keep it close and establish more of a ball control game, Winston’s likelihood should be reduced in theory.
It’s safe to say at this junction that if Koetter, Monken, and QB coach Mike Bajakian haven’t figured out how to change Winston’s mindset, they likely never will, and it will take an entirely new staff to find out if Winston can ever be a more polished QB.