Is Jameis Winston a Good Deep Ball Passer?

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Much has been said over Jameis Winston’s five year career in the NFL. His incredible offensive stats combined with turnovers have fans debating if he really is the answer at quarterback. One argument that still rages on is Jameis Winston’s ability to throw the ball deep. In a previous article, I explored the strengths and weaknesses of Winston, and cited his deep ball efficiency as a check in the pro-Winston camp. You can read that article here:

Jameis Winston: A Deep Dive Into Advanced Statistics

In this article, I want to go deeper into long ball stats, to see just how effective Winston is at hitting a receiver for a long gain.

Deep Ball Project

For the past six seasons, Johnny Kinsley has charted every quarterback in the NFL in terms of deep ball accuracy. This season, Kinsley added even more statistics such as accuracy under center, out of the pocket, under pressure, etc. Keep in mind, that this is just one data point, with millions of variables that account for the output, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Winston attempted 84 deep passes in 2019, the most in the NFL. The next closest quarterback was Aaron Rodgers with 80. With this many attempts, Winston was the 21st most accurate quarterback in 2019 with a 44.05% accuracy percentage. For reference Aaron Rodgers ranked 22nd

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Just to highlight some of the positives, Winston was extremely accurate between 26-30 yards, while under center, escaping from interior pressure and outside of the pocket into open windows. While his tight window accuracy may look sub-par, it was actually top 10 in the NFL. Lastly, Winston was one of five quarterbacks to amass over 1,000 yards of deep passing.

On the contrary, he struggled to hit receivers while in the shotgun and while escaping edge pressure. In 2018, Winston ranked 35th in deep ball accuracy, so the jump to 21 is an improvement. He was the least accurate quarterback while operating from a clean pocket, but like this season, he excelled at hitting receivers while scrambling to the sideline.

USA Today’s Metric

In an article written by Steven Ruiz, USA Today completed their own assessment of deep ball accuracy using a different formula. Here was their criteria:

  • On-target percentage: The number of on-target/catchable throws a quarterback makes divided by the total number of pass attempts
  • Expected Points Added: The total change in the offense’s Expected Points that came on passes thrown by the player
  • Positive EPA Percentage: The percentage of passes thrown by the player that resulted in a positive EPA (i.e. a successful play for the offense)

Using data from Sports Info Solutions, and the above criteria, Jameis Winston ranked 14th in the NFL (minimum 100 attempts). His on-target percentage really hurt his ranking, as Winston ranked 33rd in the NFL with catchable throws. EPA and positive% is where Winston really shined, ranking 7th and 3rd respectively.

These are just two metrics that attempt to quantify deep ball passing. But I want to know what you think. Is Jameis Winston a good deep ball passer?

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