Jameis Winston’s first NFL start was a mixed bag of highlights and lowlights, which is typical of a rookie quarterback’s first exposure to the big-boy league. However, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith made it clear that his quarterback didn’t do anything during the game than what the team sees typically during practice.
As we detailed after the game, Winston struggled at the start of the contest. He took a couple of early sacks and failed to move the offense past mid-field during his first few drives. He also threw an interception to Vikings safety Antone Exum Jr.
Winston did score a touchdown with his legs, but overall his passing performance wasn’t exactly pretty. Winston finished completing 9-of-19 passes for just 131 yards.
Smith’s response to Winston’s effort was interesting.
“I thought he seemed into the game,” Smith said, via USA Today. “He wasn’t rattled or anything. Disappointed when he didn’t do some things that he knows he can do better. Felt pretty good about the good things he did. I thought it was a typical Jameis Winston day.”
This should be all you need to know about what kind of season to expect of Winston.
He’s going to dazzle us with big plays down the field, like his 40-yard bomb to Vincent Jackson, and then he’s going to make big mistakes—often on the same drive.
No doubt Winston has the physical tools he needs to succeed. This fact has never been in doubt. However, his 18 interceptions last season at Florida State could have easily been 25, and he will likely struggle with decision-making throughout the year for the Bucs.
Hard work in the film room, along with better discipline in the pocket, will alleviate much of this as the years come and go. But right now? Winston is clearly still a raw young player who needs a lot of time to develop fully as an elite passer in the NFL.