Jameis Winston has been a player of ever-changing identities over the course of his career with titles such as; top recruit, Heisman Trophy winner, National Champion, the first overall pick, Pro-Bowler, trouble maker, an off-the-field problem, interception leader, back-up, and QB battling for a job. While many of these titles are juxtaposed, together they tell a narrative of a player riddled with inconsistency. Though beneath the surface lies some spark of underlying greatness, a potential that’s maybe even yet to be recognized, or already has been. Unlike many fallen from the grips of excellence, Jameis still has a chance to win. The world has forgotten the New Orleans Saints and Saints fans are asking. Can Jameis Winston be the quarterback they need to get them back to a championship?
A History of…Inconsistency
When Jameis was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015, his arrival in the NFL was met with skepticism and hope. Sound familiar? Tampa was in deathly need of a new quarterback and aimed to go the route of the intelligent pocket passer, Winston, as opposed to a scrambler, Marcus Mariota. Questions surrounded Winston, however. Much talk of off-the-field trouble in college left folks wondering if Winston was mature enough for the NFL. After five seasons in Tampa, the verdict seemed to be…not quite.
Jameis’s interception numbers are, and always have been, the team’s biggest worries. The NFL is a league of constant evolution, but some things simply do not change. If your quarterback doesn’t take care of the football, your chances of winning diminish. When Winston threw a league-high 30 interceptions in 2019, many thought the season to be the nail in the coffin of his career. His interception resume ultimately got him replaced by league great Tom Brady, and with that, the opportunity to replace another great, Drew Brees. To beat the dead horse, Brees ended his career in a playoff game against Brady, a game that the Saints should have won by all accounts…except one. Interceptions.
An Underlying Potential
Jameis has also shown a plethora of promise and potential despite his inconsistencies. Winston seemingly mastered college football while playing at Florida State, winning both a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy. The college game is almost a different game entirely but he found his share of success in the NFL as well. In 2019 (the same year he threw 30 picks) the player of two extremes led the league in passing yards and ranked second in total touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016. Even last year, though his season was cut short by an ACL tear, he racked up 1,170 total yards, 14 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions for a QB rating of 64.4 percent.
Whether you’re a Jameis believer or not, it’s difficult to argue his effectiveness at the QB position from last year’s stats alone. Ultimately, there’s hope, only stats don’t tell the full story. Last year, Jameis certainly had his share of ill-advised throws, and it stands to reason that half a season just isn’t enough to know how profound his impact actually was. It’s difficult to predict how Jameis Winston will do in 2022 from the numbers, but football isn’t just a game of numbers. It’s a game of character. And what more is great character than that of a man discovering the depths of his true potential lurking deep inside?
An Opportunity on the Horizon
The New Orleans Saints appear on the horizon of the 2022-2023 NFL season in the eyes of very few after barely missing the playoffs last year. The talk is that Michael Thomas is set to return along with the Saint’s other deadly offensive weapons such as Alvin Kamara, Jarvis Landry, and Taysom Hill (newly reassigned as a TE). Along with a Dennis Allen defense that ranked in the top ten overall in four separate categories last season, the New Orleans Saints are poised for a deep playoff run regardless if anyone sees it coming.
The Saints may just have a bright future ahead if Jamesis’s play on the field matches his words in a recent press conference.
“Everday, I’m visualizing how I can make the best of that day…”
“I will never take this opportunity for granted, ever again….”
If I have a bad day, get better from that. Nothing is going to deter me or my thinking.”
Are these the words of a champion returning? Only the season will tell.
“Football doesn’t build character, it reveals character.” -Marv Levy
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