Winston is coming for your defense


People would rather have it that your past is your present narrative. Past mistakes, in certain areas, can haunt an individual. Past performances sometimes cannot be forgotten nor forgiven. If one is accident-prone, they have to find a way to break bad habits. Enter in the subject at hand. Jameis Winston, for his career, has made some bad decisions on the football field. While cleaning up his off-field issues, his play seemed to struggle on the field.

Although Winston threw for 4,000 yards his first two years and brought the team to a 9-7 record, the back-to-back 5-11 seasons have left a sour taste in the Tampa Bay community. His bad decision making has given him a stigma that his bad habits may be impossible to break. But every once in a while, a chance at a redemption story takes place.

Winston Rejuvenated

Winston has found a way to rejuvenize his game and restore some faith in the team and its surroundings. He could be on the verge of making the NFL take notice. This isn’t the same NFC South that you used to know. Some people forget that Winston won a National Championship at Florida State University.

In the first game, Winston struggled against San Francisco having his worst game for the opening season with 194 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Regardless of the interceptions were his fault or not, they were on his stat line.

But since game one, Winston has had a wind of change. On a short week to prepare for a road game against a division rival, Winston was efficient, throwing for 208 yards and a touchdown to Chris Godwin. There were no turnovers to be talked about because there wasn’t any. And, they escaped the Thursday night matchup with a victory. His next game, against a 31st-ranked defense and a rookie starting quarterback, Winston didn’t disappoint. He threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns, with only one interception. The quarterback whisperer known as Bruce Arians has found a way to harness his energy, and to make better decisions on and off the field. And a fantasy perspective, his production increased a hundredfold.

In regular standard leagues, 16 points would be decent for the quarterback position. Winston’s Week 3 stat line was 35, you do the math. As far as victories are concerned, they are currently 2-2 on the season, but only after shocking the nation with an upset victory against the defending NFC North champion Los Angeles Rams.

Chris Godwin was the favorite target of Winston’s early against the Rams. Then Winston connected with Mike Evans on a deep route against Marcus Peters. A skip to the Lou ensued after the long touchdown catch and run. The team had developed a swagger, a form of a sense of camaraderie amongst themselves. When your back is against the wall, the only way to go is up. Just like Winston’s numbers have.

Four games into this young season, Winston has thrown for 1,162 yards. If you break it down that’s an average of 290 yards a game. Without debating wins or losses, this team could easily be 3-1, leading in the NFC South, and be seen as an actual contender in the NFC this season. But sometimes breaks don’t go your way. Sometimes turnovers are the reason that things don’t go your way.

Figuring Things Out

But here’s what’s funny, Winston has five interceptions on the season and nine touchdowns. Three of those five interceptions came against San Francisco in Week 1. Winston is starting to figure things out. Under Bruce Arians’ system, coordinated with multi-versatile players, formations, and packages, Winston is utilizing the weapons around him. He connected with eight different receivers in the victory against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cameron Brate, the long-forgotten tight end from Harvard who is usually Winston’s security blanket, had a score against the Rams this last Sunday. He had three catches for 36 yards. Peyton Barber started the fun with a touchdown run of three yards. Ronald Jones looked like a viable back, rushing for 70 yards and catching for 12. Winston even got one of the better tight ends in the league O.J. Howard involved. Justin Watson filled in for the spot that’s been vacated by Breshard Perriman, and his lackluster three catches and 16-yard season performance so far on the young season.

Getting people involved was always part of the plan, but Winston is starting to figure out how he can manipulate defenses to eventually get the matchup he wants. He was cool, calm, and collected against the Rams, who still had Aaron Donald on the opposite side of the ball. The one bad decision Winston did make didn’t cost them the game, and he immediately drove down the field and threw passes across the middle to show no signs of fear or regret; he’s above that.

A Shift In The South?

The time couldn’t be better for the shift in the NFC South to take place. Atlanta has regressed under Koetter, Cam isn’t currently playing, and Drew Brees is healing at just the right time. After Sunday’s spectacular performance, 12 points isn’t going to get the job done. Some team c a five-game road trip as a negative. Well, there are some teams that could see a negative can be turned into a positive. If Winston and the Bucs can’t become Road Warriors, the end of the season can be very kind to them.

Already up in the division, with home games backloaded, Tampa Bay can make some noise in the rowdy NFC South. But it starts and ends with the quarterback; he simmered Carolina with efficiency. He broiled the Giants secondary, but couldn’t escape with any butter because he lacked the W. He deep-fried Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and the defending NFC champions. I guess the only question to ask, is how the New Orleans Saints would like to have their Sunday dish served?