Last week, I explored the comparison between Jameis Winston and other gunslinger type quarterbacks. The conclusion, Winston matched up well and even had better stats than quarterbacks on winning teams, such as Ben Roethlisberger. If you want to read the full article, click the link below.
That article got me thinking about Winston’s advanced statistics from the 2019 season. Now more than ever, fans are cemented on one side of the debate. In this article, I hope to shed more light on who Winston really is as a passer, without citing lazy counting stats such as yards, touchdowns or interceptions. My goal is not to change or sway your stance, but rather give you more information so that you can make the most informed opinion.
Let’s start off with what Winston does well, but first, let’s give some context to the upcoming numbers. We’re first going to look at the index of adjusted passing, which is basically a comparison between other quarterbacks across the league. 100 is average, a league-leading season is around 120-130, and the best seasons of all time are in the 140s.
If you want to read more about these stats, or any we will be discussing in the article, click this link.
Winston’s yards per attempt (Y/A+) and net yards per attempt indexes (NY/A+) were both 117 and 115 respectively. Compared to the rest of the league, he was racking up yards, and efficiently. Even his touchdown percentage index was 107, a bit lower than I expected, but still, Winston was passing touchdowns at a high rate of efficiency. These numbers should make sense to most Buccaneers fans, as they match up with his high yards and touchdown totals.
Next, let’s move to air yards, where Winston really dominated compared to the rest of the league. We all know that Jameis Winston was tied for the most attempts in the league with 626. But if you look at his intended air yards (IAY – Air yards on all passing attempts, whether complete or incomplete) you will see that he led the league by nearly 900 yards. Even if you break it down by passing attempts (IAY/PA) Winston still ranked second in the league with 10.4, just behind Mathew Stafford at 10.6.
We can just keep going down the list:
- Completed Air Yards (CAY) – 3,249 (1st)
- Completed Air Yards per Completion (CAY/Cmp) – 8.6 (Tied for 1st)
- Completed Air Yards per Pass Attempt (CAY/PA) – 5.5 (1st)
- Pass Yards After Catch per Completion (YAC/Cmp) 4.9 (25th)
So what does this all mean? Jameis Winston was asked to lead an offense that was built around deep/difficult throws, with a supporting cast that did not gain yards after the catch relative to his completions. Essentially, this is the Bruce Arians offense, but Winston ran it with effectiveness, leading the league in every air yards category. Winston gets a ton of flack for his ineffectiveness at throwing the deep ball, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Winston is deceptively good at avoiding the rush and scrambling. Just watch this clip of him avoiding Nick Bosa in week one.
Competition level should be noted, but Nick Bosa showed right away why he went 2nd overall. Can win inside or out with equal effectiveness which is rare for any rusher let alone a rookie in his first start.
Dusted Smith a couple of times. Just needs to finish. pic.twitter.com/zAjZMhB6HK
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 10, 2019
Taking a look at the numbers, Winston was blitzed a total of 241 times, the most in the NFL. He was also sacked 47 times, a product of scheme, attempting to extend the play and a sub-par offensive line.
But what I want to look at is Winston’s scrambling ability. In 2019, Jameis Winston scrambled a total of 31 times for 7.4 yards per carry. If you only look at quarterbacks with at least 10 scrambles, Winston ranks 10th in the NFL, right in front of Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, and Deshaun Watson. All three of these quarterbacks are well known for their ability to escape the pocket, but why not Winston? The numbers sure prove he is on the same level.
Remember the adjusted passing stats we talked about at the beginning? Well, we’re jumping back there to talk about what Winston doesn’t do so well, starting with interceptions. But before I discuss this number, I know what some of you will say, that not all of Winston’s turnovers are on him. While that is true, it is for every quarterback in the league. You can go back and look at all 30 of his interceptions, and decide that only 17 were on him, but I challenge you to do that with every passer. I can almost guarantee that Winston would still be at the top in interceptions.
Okay now that my rant is over, let’s take a look at interception percentage index (Int%) and completion percentage index (cmp%), both of which were 60 and 87 respectively. Remember, 100 is average, so a number near 80 is considered the bottom of the league, but 60, that’s historically bad. You could argue that it’s a product of the system, a constant change in coaches, a bad offensive line, and no run game, but the fact is, Winston’s interceptions totals in 2019 won’t win many football games.
In 2018, fans and journalists alike criticized the connection between Jameis Winston and Desean Jackson. Many people said that he couldn’t hit the deep ball, with other fans countering by pointing to his chemistry with Mike Evans.
In 2019, Winston struggled mightily in the accuracy department. His percentage of on-target throws were last in the league at 69.9%. This stat is fairly subjective, as everyone could quantify an “off-target” throw very differently. We also know that Winston leads the league in air yards, which leaves little room for easy check downs.
Synonymous with on-target throws is “bad throw percentage”. Winston ranked fourth in the league with 20.6% of his throws being categorized as “bad”. Similar arguments to the first state can also be made here, but that’s just my opinion.
The last stat we will be looking at is Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR). This is the definition of each term, according to football outsiders:
“Quarterbacks are ranked according to DYAR, or Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement. This gives the value of the quarterback’s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage. DYAR (and its cousin, YAR, which isn’t adjusted based on opponent) is further explained here. The other statistic given is DVOA or Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. This number represents value, per play, over an average quarterback in the same game situations. The more positive the DVOA rating, the better the player’s performance. Negative DVOA represents a below-average offense. DVOA (and its cousin, VOA, which isn’t adjusted based on opponent) is further explained here.”
“The simple version: DYAR means a quarterback with more total value. DVOA means a quarterback with more value per play.”
Out of 34 quarterbacks, Jameis Winston ranked 23rd in DYAR with 65, and 22nd in DVOA with -6.5%. Basically, Winston was below average compared to a replacement-level quarterback in similar game situations. Even if you use statistics that don’t include opponent adjustments, Winston ranks in the bottom two-thirds of the league.
So here you have it, advanced statistics that portray the good, and bad of Jameis Winston. Now I obviously injected some of my own opinions in this article to help explain some of the stats, but I really want to know what you think. Do you believe the Buccaneers can win with Winston under center? Or do you hope that Arians will move on, and either sign or draft a new quarterback? Let us know in the comments below.