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The 2019 NFL season is a make-or-break year for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, a former first overall pick who for four seasons has consistently led his Bucs to the basement of the NFC South.
Now playing under his third head coach in the NFL, Bruce Arians, aka The Quarterback Whisperer, Winston is expected to rediscover the glory of his college playing days when he was 26-1 in his two seasons at Florida State while winning a Heisman Trophy and Walter Camp Award along the way.
Winston has quickly discovered that the NFL is an entirely different beast than college football and in four seasons has failed to lead his team to the postseason, so it is do-or-die in 2019 for this talented and mobile young quarterback, and here we look at the odds and predictions of his potential output this season and briefly analyze his chances to succeed.
Jameis Lanaed Winston is a 25-year old NFL quarterback who was born in 1994 in Bessemer, Alabama where he played football and baseball at Hueytown High School.
After leading his high school football team to a state championship his junior season, Winston was considered to be the best dual-threat quarterback in his 2012 recruiting class by Rivals.com.
As a baseball player, Winston was drafted in the 15th round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers right out of high school, but he decided not to sign with them and pursue his love of football at the college level.
Winston chose to play both football and baseball at Florida State University.
After redshirting his freshman year, Winston quickly became the starter for the 2013 season when he completed 257-of-384 passes for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns with 10 interceptions while running the ball 77 times for 193 yards and 4 more touchdowns.
His Seminoles went undefeated that season, 13-0, which included a victory in the ACC Championship game against Duke, which Florida State won by a lopsided score of 45-7, and Winston was named the ACC Overall (and Offensive) Player of the Year.
Winston was also named as a Consensus All-American in 2013 and won the AP Player of the Year Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the crown jewel of them all, the Heisman Trophy.
His next season, Winston led the Seminoles to another undefeated season and a spot in the 2015 Rose Bowl, which the team lost to Oregon, 59-20, giving the young quarterback from Alabama his first loss ever at the college level.
Winston decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility and declared himself available for the 2015 NFL draft, his Florida State two-season career numbers undeniably impressive – 562-of-851 for 7,964 total yards and 65 touchdowns with 28 interceptions as a passer while rushing 134 times for 258 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Winston was a switch-hitting batter who played outfield and pitched.
He had a .235 batting average with a .723 on-base plus slugging as a freshman and had a 3.00 ERA in 27 innings pitched.
Baseball America named Winston an All-American as a 3rd-team utility player prior to his 2014 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Winston first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft and offered him a four-year rookie contract worth $23.35 million, including a $16.7 million signing bonus.
Knowing how good Winston is at baseball, his NFL contract specifically states that he cannot play any other sport besides football.
Winston started all 16 games of his rookie season with the Buccaneers.
Winston went to the Pro Bowl his rookie season and was named the NFL Rookie of the Year.
In his four NFL seasons, though, Winston has a losing record of 21-33-0 and has never brought his Buccaneers to the postseason.
His four-year stats are decent but not earth-shattering – 1,183-of-1,922 for 14,628 yards and 88 touchdowns with 58 interceptions while rushing 189 times for 794 yards and 9 touchdowns – and his entire NFL career the talking head experts have been accusing him of underperforming compared to his overall potential.
The Buccaneers picked up the fifth-year option of Winston’s rookie contract during the 2018 offseason.
Winston will earn $20.92 million for the 2019 season.
Winston will become an undrafted free agent at the end of this season, which makes it a contract year and a do or die situation for the young quarterback.
Offensively, the 2018 season was an odd one for the Buccaneers and Winston, since he shared duties under center with Ryan Fitzpatrick due to the suspension he received for off the field behavior (see below).
Together, Winston and “Fitzmagic” led the league in total passing yards (5,125) as well as in total interceptions (26) while Winston’s personal production (244-of-378 for 2,992 yards and 19 touchdowns with 14 interceptions) was ranked just 22nd among his quarterbacking peers.
For the third season (of four total) in his NFL career, Winston led his Bucs to a fourth-place finish in the NFC South and for the fourth season in a row, there was no postseason play for this team.
Winston was accused of groping a female Uber driver, which violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
As a result of those allegations, the league ended up suspending Winston for the first three games of 2018.
Backup quarterback and journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick became the starter in his absence, with Winston eventually working his way back as the starter under center.
The answer is now three – which is two too many, especially given that this is only Winston’s fifth year in the league.
Lovie Smith was the head coach during Winston’s rookie season in 2015, but after the team posted a 6-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the NFC South, Dirk Koetter was brought in for the next three seasons and then fired after two divisional last-place finishes in a row.
Then this offseason, after quietly passing a physical to hush any circulating doubts about his health, Bruce Arians, the legendary two-time coach of the year, was pulled out of retirement (and the broadcast booth) to turn Tampa Bay’s football franchise around.
Arians has brought in one of his former Arizona Cardinals assistants, Byron Leftwich, as the offensive coordinator, making him the third OC that Winston has been coached by in his career.
Tampa Bay Historical Note: After seven seasons (and a Super Bowl XXXVII win in 2002), Jon Gruden was fired as the Buccaneers’ head coach in January 2009, and since then the Buccaneers have not won the NFC South or been to the postseason even once, and in that time they have gone through four head coaches and are now on their fifth.
The answer to that question only takes four words: quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians.
As a former head coach and offensive coordinator, Arians ‘whispered’ several big-name quarterbacks to the next level – Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and Carson Palmer in Arizona – so it is assumed that he will be able to do the same for Winston, a first overall pick who has not lived up to his very high expectations.
Arian’s coaching philosophy, the one that’s earned him two NFL Coach of the Year awards (2012 and 2014) and two Super Bowl rings (XL in 2005 and XLIII in 2008) is based on taking measured risks, or as he has put it in the past: “No risk it, no biscuit. You can’t live scared.”
It’s that same philosophy that inspired Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht to bring Arians onboard, hoping that the coach’s emphasis on trust and developing a football family with his quarterbacks will uncork Winston’s true potential.
Here are Winston’s top four targets on the Buccaneers’ roster right now:
And also throw in Breshad Perriman, the speedy wide receiver acquired in the offseason from the Cleveland Browns (whose receiver room was too crowded to keep him), after catching 16 passes in ten games for 340 yards and 2 touchdowns last season.
Seven of the Buccaneers’ eight draft picks and five of the free agents they signed were on the defensive side of the ball, so obviously the offseason goal was to improve on their 27th ranked defense.
However, from the looks of things, the oddsmakers have no faith in Arian’s ability to turn the Bucs and Winston into winners, predicting the team will once again finish last in the NFC South.
Currently, eleven other NFC teams have better odds of getting to the Super Bowl than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do, and twenty-three other NFL teams have a better chance of winning Super Bowl LIV.
For more details on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason, please check out our prior coverage: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Biggest Offseason Moves.
Despite the oddsmakers’ doubts regarding the Buccaneers, they seem to think that Winston could have his best personal season yet – which he could certainly use, given that he will be up for a new contract at the end of 2019.
Total passing yards and passing touchdowns are two of the major ways to judge an NFL quarterback, and next, we take a look at and briefly analyze Winston’s current potential output for the upcoming season.
Here are the current odds and predictions for Winston’s 2019:
Caveat: Winston must play in game one for action to commence.
If you are in New Jersey you can bet on NFL futures with 888Sport. Find the latest odds below. Good luck!
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Analysis: Given that Winston has never come close to beating the over of this bet in the four seasons he’s been in the NFL, the under looks a whole lot more tempting here.
Of course, that assumes that Arians will have little effect on Winston’s game, which, if past history is considered, is a foolish assumption.
For those football gamblers who believe that Arians the Quarterback Whisperer has one more turnaround left in him, bet the over here, and for everyone else, the under is the way to go.
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Analysis: In his four NFL seasons, Winston has only beaten this over once, and that was in 2016 when he threw for 28 touchdowns and led the Buccaneers to their first winning season since 2010.
The other three times Winston didn’t really come close to beating the over, throwing for 22 touchdowns during his rookie season and 19 touchdowns for the last two years.
Again, which side of this bet you take depends on how well you believe in Arian’s magic (the oddsmakers appear to believe, given the -124 they placed on the over), so all the other believers should bet this over and the realists should undoubtedly bet the under.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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