Everybody plays the fool. If a measure of one’s current body of work over longevity is in question, other rationale takes place. We make split decisions all the time, one of many graces in life.
Numbers can and will be used for or against you. Quarterbacks realize the weight of the position, but what if those standards are seen through a different lens or angle. An in-depth look at the scenery and the Buccaneers had a lot of holes to fill. Defensive pressure, linebacker rotation, safeties, zone corners and nickels, wide receiver, tight end (shout out to Tanner Hudson), there were a lot of areas to fill.
While Jameis Winston stayed consistent in 2016, the Bucs went 9-7. He only threw for 4,090 yards that season, had a +10 ratio touchdown to interception rate (28-18), and his receivers averaged 12 yards a catch. Nice to see that places were addressed, except for the offensive line.
Fast forward to today, and viewing his current pace, he’s a yardage machine. Whether under duress or fully protected Winston produces yards. He just 25. So please explain the 18,287 yards? Not to compare Winston to Peyton Manning in any way, but even Manning struggled with turnovers. Once Manning figured it out, he was a machine.
Worth The Risk
Do you risk losing a productive quarterback with chemistry with the team and start over? Or does one fix the problem that hasn’t been addressed since 2013, offensive lines? They have been offensive this year, giving up 40 sacks so far; season’s got a quarter to go for the first act. But right now he’s averaging 304.9 yards a game under a shoddy at best worn offensive line. As if to any problem, In order to fix it, it must be addressed. The draft is coming soon, and if key replacements can be made for the Buccaneers, numbers could come in bunches.
A Look Ahead
Winston has thrown for more than 4,000 yards twice already in his young career, but he’s on the verge of shattering that. With four games left, the look and the feel of the team is changing. The defense is sharper. The offensive weapons are highly skilled, this isn’t an easy game to play. Currently, Chris Godwin has 1,121 yards on the season. Loving the 66.7% catch rate as the “number two” wide receiver. Nine is a good number; seven is pretty, good too.
Compliment that with the brilliance of Mike Evans, who’s been a model of consistency since day one in Tampa. 461 receptions and counting. Mike has been a 1,000-yard receiver since his arrival, and he has a chance to eclipse his 2018 total of 1,524 yards. If one ever gets to see Evans play, see if he’s having a good day because Evans goes off in bunches. When not sick or injured, one goose aside, he’s active. If he were to be able to take advantage of your secondary, he might be liable to go off for 198, 190, or 180 yards, with a 66% shot, of having multiple touchdowns. That’s if one would consider being a six-time 1,000-yard receiver underachieving… Leave that to the skeptics.
With the running game starting to come around featuring Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber, protecting personnel should be of utmost importance. Cincinnati just recently waived Andre Smith, and there is an offensive lineman coming out from Georgia, who could definitely help your offensive line. Andrew Thomas could fix a hole that has plagued a lot of quarterbacks; hits, sacks, and strips-blindside. Pick up one of many Wisconsin Badgers that will be available in the second round, and an offensive line has been reforged. Or one could take a look at the bullies who play lineman for the LSU Tigers. They’re addicted to pancakes.
Time Is Of The Essence
If given time, Winston has been known to shred a defense. Even in losing efforts. The model he has built with the numbers he has put up shows it’s when consistently fixed. Eight 300 yard games; 1,400. Seven games with multiple touchdown passes. Winston still has four to go, but a chance to surpass his career-high in passing, and possibly completion percentage. He already has 3659 yards passing; second only to Dak Prescott this year. With the offensive weapons, two wideouts in top 10 categories, a talented tight end set, and a sufficient line similar to the upcoming opponent, the Indianapolis Colts; Winston could be impressive.
Protection Is Key
Winston has been sacked well over 150 times in his career. He’s accepted it and battled back after enduring the most sacks of his career this season (40) and he’s only 25. You don’t find QBs that throw for 18,000 yards in 5 years just growing on trees. One thing is for sure, there will definitely be changes in the NFC South after this year, but who’s to say they can’t finish level? Can the Bucs get pressure on Brissett? Will the Bucs secondary slow down Kenny Golladay and Jones Jr.?
How will they handle DeAndre Hopkins, Carlos Hyde, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and most of all Deshaun Watson, that Saturday on the 21st? And, to close out the season, how will they fare against Atlanta? Tampa Bay is no longer in the basement, and maybe the Dirty Birds are due for some changes. Carolina has already started. Opportunities like this are rare.
Photo credit: CBS Sports