Jameis Winston has everything to prove in his fifth season in the NFL. It is the first time in two seasons that Winston will not have to worry about “Fitzmagic” leaning over his shoulder, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will succeed or fail on the back of Winston’s performances. Winston is in a contract year and the jury is still out as to whether or not he is a bonafide staring quarterback in the NFL. Should he fall short of expectations, Tampa Bay just might choose to move on from the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Jameis Winston has received just as much attention for his off-field issues as his on-field performances. Unfortunately his tarnished reputation has somewhat masked his immense potential and talent, and his inconsistency in displaying such talent has caused him to enter 2019 without a contract extension.
Yet for his at times questionable decision making and accuracy during games, 2018 was the first season where Winston failed to improve his passer rating. Last year Winston actually ranked in the top ten for total QBR while only appearing in 11 games. After regaining his starting spot in Week 11, Winston went on to record 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Winston has every opportunity to succeed this season. His new head coach, Bruce Arians, has helped top talent quarterbacks not only improve their game, but also showcase it with efficiency. The relationship between Winston and Arians is paramount for the now 25 year-old quarterback. Arians will undoubtedly adjust his game plan to accentuate Winston’s strength, such as his cannon of an arm and mobility in the pocket.
Winston will have the benefit of lethal weapons in the passing game. He has an elite receiver in Mike Evans, a talented Chris Godwin, and OJ Howard at tight end. Winston, however, has been sacked 122 times in his career likely spared from far more thanks to his movement, and the pressure in the pocket does not look probable to improve . If Winston does not get the time to find his targets, he might succumb to rushed and inaccurate throws, which has maligned him over the past few years.
The lack of an efficient running back will only compound the pressure on Winston. Opposing defenses will gameplay for Winston’s weapons in the passing game. They will focus on shutting down Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, which could force Winston to attempt precarious passes or short yardage throws. Winston’s saving grace, however, remains his mobility.
James Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need 2019 to be successful. The Bucs do not want to start over yet again at the quarterback position, especially with their current playoff drought dating back to 2008. Their defense will remains a question mark requiring Winston to perform at his best to offset this weakness. Tampa Bay is in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. The NFC South holds some of the most imposing offenses in New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta. Jameis Winston and Bruce Arians must work hard to avoid getting lost in the mix.