The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are featured in this year’s Hard Knocks and we are granted an inside look at the New England Patriots’ week 5 Thursday Night Football opponent. The NFL posted a snippet of the show on their Twitter feed where head coach Dirk Koetter sat down with QB Jameis Winston to discuss the quarterback’s role in the offense.
“As far as doing too much, I just want to have a good understanding of how much is doing too much,” Winston asks.
“Okay, that’s a great question, and here’s what I would say on that,” Koetter replies. “We have a good defense now, so maybe we got to cut our risk a little bit. Your M.O. in your career was you’ve always been a risk taker even if it got you in trouble early in a game. Either you’ve been good enough, or your team’s been good enough to bail you out of it.
“And now we have a good team. We have by far the best team we’ve had since you’ve been in the NFL. And you are a guy that’s able to win a game, but also we don’t need you to lose a game for us. You’re the only guy that can lose a game for us because no one else touches the ball enough. So there’s a fine line there and you’re a great competitor, but we’ve got to get some patience in there.
“And we need you to be a great quarterback. You play a different style of quarterback than Tom Brady, you play a closer style to Aaron Rodgers. Both great quarterbacks, both guys that will be in the Hall of Fame. Now it’s time, even though they’ve got years on you, you’ve got to play like that because, shoot, that’s just the way the league is. They don’t care if you’re 23 or 39 [years old] to get the respect you want and to go where our team wants more than anything.”
At the heart of the conversation, Koetter is simply hyping up his young quarterback and telling him to emulate one of the two best quarterbacks in the league by avoiding unnecessary turnovers. Winston sometimes does “too much” by taking too great of risks and ultimately loses the game for the Buccaneers.
But comparing Winston to Brady and Rodgers is obviously premature, especially when it comes to how both of those veterans play.
Since entering the league in 2015, Winston has thrown an interception on 3.0% of his pass attempts, the second-worst rate in the NFL and ahead of only Ryan Fitzpatrick and his 3.3% (Fitzpatrick is coincidentally Winston’s back-up in Tampa Bay). Over that same time frame, Brady (0.9%) and Rodgers (1.3%) have been the two best quarterbacks in entire league at avoiding interceptions.
Winston’s completion rate of 59.6% also ranks towards the bottom of the league, ahead of only Colin Kaepernick, Blake Bortles, Fitzpatrick, and Cam Newton (min. 500 attempts) and one spot behind Brock Osweiler. Newton is the only player of those five listed to have a secure job moving forward. Both Brady and Rodgers have above-average accuracy and have surpassed a 60% completion rate every year as a starter.
The foundation for both Brady and Rodgers is their accuracy and ability to avoid turnovers, skills where Winston greatly struggles. We’re still not sure if Winston is more like Blake Bortles and Mark Sanchez than he is like Derek Carr and Andrew Luck and there will be plenty of time for Winston to make his status known in 2017.
And to draw any sort of line from Winston to Brady or Rodgers is still laughable at this point.