Season-best performance for Jameis Winston
More than most rookies, Jameis Winston always had the potential for a rollercoaster first season in the NFL.
Through seven weeks of the season, his game-by-game graph is already looking like one of the finest Daltoncoaster™ imitations we have seen. His opening day performance was a disaster against fellow rookie Marcus Mariota, who looked far more composed and NFL-ready (ironically), but then the former Florida State QB posted a couple of decent games before another nightmare outing against the Panthers.
This week saw the high point of his young career, with an excellent grade (+5.0) coming against the Washington Redskins in a game the Buccaneers ultimately lost. In fact, only Tom Brady’s excellent performance against the Jets received better marks for a quarterback in Week 7.
Winston completed 72.4 percent of his pass attempts against Washington for a passer rating of 128.1, and perhaps more importantly, threw no interceptions in the process.
In this game, Winston showed he was prepared to throw the ball away (three such passes), rather than force the ball into an ill-advised window, and it paid off with a far more accomplished display. He still struggled under pressure, completing just 42.9 percent of his passes when the Redskins brought the heat, but did at least avoid making big mistakes and was able to punish Washington on the blitz.
On passes that traveled 10+ yards down field, Winston completed 10-of-12 attempts for 204 yards and two scores. He earned a positive grade in every area of the field he targeted on those passes, and showed some of the upside that every team knew was there at draft time. His deep pass to Mike Evans, in particular, early in the game was a thing of textbook beauty.
Take a look for yourself:
Winston hits Evans perfectly in stride 40-yards down field, as he reaches the end zone for the first score of the game. In truth, Winston’s performance in this game deserved better than the final score, and his grade comes despite a poor fumble, which could have been even more costly had he failed to get it back.
Rookie seasons can be bumpy for the best of quarterbacks, but as long as the Buccaneers see highs like this game, they will be confident that Winston can become something special and justify the first overall draft pick they spent on him. The season may still feature more highs and lows on the rollercoaster, but it’s time to credit him for a truly excellent performance.