PFT 2019 storyline No. 23: Can Bruce Arians get more out of Jameis Winston?

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Rose Bowl. 2015.

Operating from the Oregon 30, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston receives the snap in shotgun formation, drops two steps and settles in to begin making his reads. Pressure from his right causes him to slide a few steps forward in the pocket, and then suddenly the Benny Hill music starts playing.

After spinning, whirling, starting, and stopping, Winston pratfalls backward, the ball comes out, the referee slips and falls like Kramer in the liquor store, and the Ducks deliver the dagger to the Seminoles.

It was a head scratching moment for a Heisman-winning future franchise quarterback, and it became a harbinger of Winston’s NFL career.

In fairness to Winston, the moments aren’t routine, but they happen often enough to raise real questions regarding whether he simply tries too hard, whether his abilities don’t match what he thinks his abilities are. The potential for one of those what-was-he-thinking? plays has become part of Winston’s overall game, and it’s one of the reasons why Winston has yet to get a second contract from the Buccaneers. And why the Bucs haven’t eaten many W’s.

Enter coach Bruce Arians, a self-styled quarterback whisperer who is more like a quarterback tell-it-like-it-is-er. His basic advice to Winston? “Stop throwing it to the other team.”

Whether Arians can get Winston to follow that mandate remains to be seen. He has the potential to be a Pro Bowler, but 58 interceptions in four years (including 14 in 11 games last season) have kept him from being as good as he can be.

A stretch of five straight wins in 2016 had Winston looking like a potential MVP candidate. A heartfelt letter to each of his teammates prior to a game at Kansas City sparked an upset over the Chiefs, laying the foundation for a Sunday night flex against the Cowboys. But a three-interception night in Dallas contributed to a 26-20 loss, and that’s the closest Winston and the Bucs have come to being relevant.

The challenge for Arians will be to immediately make the Buccaneers relevant. It’s a boom-or-bust proposition for a team that prematurely cut bait on Dirk Koetter. Success will get a second contract for Winston, and it could put Arians in position for his third coach of the year award. Failure could force Winston prematurely into the clipboard phase of his career, compelling him to watch and wait for an opportunity to play if/when the starter is injured or ineffective.

Much is riding on whether Arians can help Winston do what he needs to do, in order to keep doing what he’s done at the starting quarterback in Tampa. Otherwise, he could be done as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

31 responses to “PFT 2019 storyline No. 23: Can Bruce Arians get more out of Jameis Winston?

  1. Jameis has been in the league long enough to have a pretty good understanding of what the defenses are trying to do to stop him. He should be able to walk up to the line of scrimmage and have a pretty good idea of what the defenders are going to do as soon as the ball is snapped, and be able to figure out his best 2 or 3 options. Being able to do that takes a lot of time in the film room, but he should be at that level by now. Enter Bruce Arians. Bruce is getting Jameis after he’s already learned the basics. If Jameis has put in the necessary work, Arians should be able to ride him to a higher level. Winston pretty much has the same package that John Elway had. He’s got all the tools. Arians’ style should be a perfect fit for Winston. I think he’ll still throw interceptions, but they’ll be 40 yards downfield.

  2. Can he get more out of Winston ?

    It depends on how long the crab legs hold out in Florida…

  3. I’d guess yes a tad, but it’ll be 5% improvement and endless hot air to the media from Arians.

  4. “Stop throwing it to the other team.”

    Sage advice.
    That’s why Ariens is paid the big bucks.

  5. He should be able to walk up to the line of scrimmage and have a pretty good idea of what the defenders are going to do as soon as the ball is snapped, and be able to figure out his best 2 or 3 options.
    —–
    I’m not trying to make excuses for or oversell Jameis Winston however…

    This will be his 3rd coach and the 3rd time he’ll be told to do completely different things to do before or after the ball is snapped. The example you give is static. Like every NFL coach ass the same from their QB’s. Like they all run the same offense and every QB is asked to do the same. Or that every defense does the same thing based off of a “look”. I think you are short selling how complex the NFL actually is. Both offensively and defensively. It’s vastly more sophisticated than Madden 19.

  6. It isnt that there’s a shortage of guys with the physical or athletic ability to be a starting QB in the NFL, it’s a shortage of guys with the field vision, judgment a calmness under pressure to make plays instead of mistakes.

  7. Real Talk: He doesn’t have it between the ears, has very little of the tools and isn’t a franchise QB. If talent matched even half the hype he would already be at the level he needs to be.

  8. Winston to Arians. “I’ll stop throwing to the other team when you stop wearing your signature goofy cap.”

  9. NO!… Not enough to matter anyways..
    JW has played several years back to high school and his reaction, reflex, response will all come from muscle memory… Sure, it’s possible he can be taught to do better in the calm of the game (or be worse by over thinking things) but when pressure is on he will automatically and instinctively revert back to his old bad habits and play the same…
    He is just your typical overrated qb… It would greatly behoove The Bucs to just move on at that position.. Not every worm becomes a butterfly!

  10. With Winston what you’ve seen is what you’ll get – a mediocre starting QB. Arians can tell him to stop throwing picks all he wants, but it won’t do much good.

    Winston was over-drafted and over-hyped. The Bucs should have already dumped him.

  11. @factschecker says:

    I’m not trying to make excuses for or oversell Jameis Winston however…

    This will be his 3rd coach and the 3rd time he’ll be told to do completely different things to do before or after the ball is snapped. The example you give is static. Like every NFL coach ass the same from their QB’s. Like they all run the same offense and every QB is asked to do the same. Or that every defense does the same thing based off of a “look”. I think you are short selling how complex the NFL actually is. Both offensively and defensively. It’s vastly more sophisticated than Madden 19.
    ===============================================================================
    Same thing was said about Gerald McCoy but they were talking about how many HC and defensive coordinators he had while playing there. It was an absurd number. The only stability in Tampa has been in-stability!

  12. I’d expect a McNabb kind of improvement. Throw worm burners where no one can catch it or set your receiver up to get the crap knocked out of him.

    On paper, he will have appeared to be improved. I don’t think the “W’s” will follow.

  13. As a lifelong Bucs fan , who has had season tickets every year since Winston was drafted , it’s clear to me that he isn’t going to progress much more . His feet are lazy , windup long , and doesn’t process information fast enough to warrant a second contract from the Bucs . He’s not a monumental bust , but a bust nonetheless .

  14. To say Winston doesn’t have it between the ears is less about football and more about coded language. Every coach that he’s ever had has raved about his intelligence and how quickly he processes defenses. Him and his dad had been working on those things since he was a child, and intelligence has never been an issue with Winston. His biggest issue is he trusts his arm too much, and makes while taking risks many couldn’t even fathom making. Tailor your offense around more intermediate throws and you’ll see exponential growth. His numbers so far are incredible.

  15. It’s going to be a wasted season for my Bucs…they are determinded to stuff a square into a circle….Winston does not have what it takes to be a winning succesful NFL QB, but hey, lets give it ANOTHER year to try. It won’t work ,and in 12 months we’ll finally have drafted a NEW QB and start yet again.

  16. Winston’s his new Carson Palmer. Both players are double agents that hurt the team as much they help it

  17. Anyone who watched that hard knocks knows why Tampa keeps losing. They have terrible practice habits. McCoy was one of the worst. They were smart to jettison him.

  18. You think brate is a great receiver? lol. He’s not bad but he’s not even the most talented TE on your team. He’s kind of like a very very very poor man’s Jason Witten

  19. Arians will fix him or break him. Either way the Bucs will have an answer. I predict another QB drafted next year.

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