Bucs starting quarterback Jameis Winston draws comparisons to future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning. To get a better sense of the two QBs, let’s delve deeper into their first five seasons. Since Winston hasn’t completed his fifth season, the data reflects on ESPN‘s projected totals.
How Does Manning and Winston Compare?
Manning excels in every single throwing stat including interceptions. While he’s far less prone to getting sacked, he’s turned the ball over more in the air. Winston nearly doubles Manning’s fumbles. Manning’s won 53 percent of his games to Winston’s 40.
What Did Manning Have to Work With?
Since Manning’s rookie season, the Colts remained in the top 10 in passing yards, top five beyond his rookie season. Also beyond his rookie season, a consistent top 10-ranking in offensive yards. Manning had the benefit of Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk in 1998 and his successor, future HOFer Edgerrin James to provide a steady ground attack. The Colts had a below-average running game only cracking the top 10 once in 2001.
Their best year offensively resulted in a 6-10 season. Most point to their poor defense led by then DC Vic Fangio. Aside from 2001 and 1998, the Colts had an average defense. In 2002, the defense finished in the top 10 under DC Ron Meeks. Three of Manning’s first five seasons resulted in playoff appearances. More than anything, this proves when the defense wasn’t a liability, the Colts were able to regularly compete.
What Did Winston Have to Work With?
Before Winston became a throwing force, he produced average passing yards in his first two seasons. The only time the team finished in the top 10 in rushing, the team still failed to make the playoffs at 6-10. It didn’t help DC Leslie Frazier and head coach Lovie Smith had a defense that constantly underachieved. The enigma is how the team surrendered the 10th fewest yards but gave up the 26th most points.
With the exception of 2016, the Bucs always finished within the top 10 in offensive yards but had below-average scoring. Aside from 2015, the ineffectiveness of Doug Martin, Peyton Barber, and Ronald Jones II may contribute to the team’s lack of scoring. Unfortunately, when the offense started to hit their stride, the defense stayed a liability.
Since Mike Smith’s average debut as defensive coordinator in 2016, the performance kept suffering until his firing in 2018. With three games remaining, Winston has a chance to finish the season with his second winning record at 9-7.
When you compare Manning and Winston’s second seasons, the 1999 Colts are close to the 2016 Bucs in terms of defenses. While both teams finished in similar ranking in points surrendered, the Bucs finished lower in yards. Both running attacks were below average. Manning threw for more than Winston. The Colts produced a far better record at 13-3 to the Bucs’ 9-7.
Statistically, Manning threw for 45 more yards, three fewer INTs, and two fewer TDs. He was also a more accurate passer by 1.3 percent. Winston had four more fumbles. One major difference? Manning engineered seven game-winning drives to Winston’s three. The Bucs lost four games within one score where a field goal wouldn’t make a difference in 2016. Comparing their first five seasons, Manning has 16 game-winning drives to Winston’s 11. Overall regardless of Winston’s involvement, the Bucs’ lost 29 games within one score his entire career.
THIS is why Manning had the intangibles to be a winner and scapegoating everyone else can only get you so far.