Chris Conte stepped in front of a pass intended for Josh Huff and took it to the house. It was the second time in as many days that Bucs QB Jameis Winston suffered this fate. It was a telegraphed pass, an easy play for Conte to make. The day before, another DB jumped the route but tipped it into the air where Vernon Hargreaves snagged it and went the distance.
It’s camp – stuff like this happens. The thing that makes you a little concerned is it’s two days in a row where Winston basically tried to force a ball in that he should’ve never thrown and it cost his team. Jameis has the talent to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL but if he can’t eliminate these mistakes, he will never get there. Two seasons in, Winston has thrown 33 picks an average of 16.5. Brett Favre, who Winston is often compared to, threw 37 in his first two seasons as a starter. In season three, Favre’s touchdowns raised to 33 while his interceptions dropped to 14.
That’s really what this is all about. Winston is expected to make the leap in year three. He no longer has Larry, Curly and Moe at receiver. His line was bolstered by the return of JR Sweezy. His defense is looking better and better. He has one of the most talented tight end duos in the league not to mention a talented core of running backs. He has his deep threat and his security blanket. It’s his third year in Dirk Koetter’s offense where everything should be second nature to him now.
Much like Jameis, Blake Bortles had a tremendous second season with the Jaguars, throwing for over 4,400 yds, 35 TDs against 18 interceptions. He was expecting to make that next jump in year three. Instead, he and his team came crashing down. He didn’t make the jump and now he’s looked upon as a question mark in Jacksonville.
With Bucs fans, there’s been no doubt in Jameis’ greatness and his desire to get better. His leadership is unquestioned. He is the ultimate playmaker, performing some amazing feats with the football (see Bears game) but Winston would put his team in dire situations with his turnovers and tendency to try to make plays that simply weren’t there.
Of course, Winston fully understands the situation he’s in. Talking to reporters after the August 2nd practice, Winston shared head coach Dirk Koetter’s advice with the media.
“Patience as a form of controlling everything,” Winston said, courtesy of Jenna Laine of ESPN, “I always have to be calm, cool and collected. Everything can be going fast for others, but everything has to be slowed down for me.”
“When I step in the huddle, I have to slow everything down no matter what happened the last play, no matter if we scored a touchdown, no matter if we had a turnover. I have to be the person that brings everybody together, be patient, calm and just put us [in] chill mode.”
It’s still not there, folks. Jameis hasn’t developed that patience every QB needs. Throw the ball away and live to fight another day. Don’t try to force that pass in. Sometimes an incompletion or a sack isn’t as bad as seeing the football go the other way. He is the anti-Glennon. Now, nobody wants him to become Captain Checkdown. That’s not winning football either (unless your name is Alex Smith).
Yet he has to find some happy medium where he can still try for the big play but also protect his team, especially on the opponents side of the field where you have the opportunity to get points or pin your opponent deep in their own territory. Too many times in ’06 Winston coughed it up at the most inopportune times. An extra field goal here, one less touchdown set up by a Winston turnover there and this team would be building off a playoff appearance.
This team will go as far as Jameis Winston can take them. He understands that and its a lot for a 22-year-old quarterback to put on his shoulders. He has to do it if the Bucs are going to end their decade long playoff drought. The good news is there’s still time for him to get it together before Miami on Sept. 10th.