Film Room: Jameis Winston

Film Room: Jameis Winston
Film Room: Jameis Winston
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Cian Fahey

"If being a quarterback was just about throwing the ball, the position would be easy to play."

There are different ways to interpret that sentence. A vast majority of people receive it as a suggestion that the quarterback needs to be a leader, that he needs to be clutch, and that he needs to carry some inherent ability that makes his team win games. That interpretation feels like it belongs in a fairy tale. It also feels like a molded narrative rather than an evidence-based response, because nobody who loses consistently is praised for his leadership or clutchness. Furthermore, judging an individual quarterback on wins means that you presume every quarterback plays in the same situations over the course of his career.

The more logical interpretation of that sentence is that it refers to the technical and mental aspects of the position. In that scenario, "throwing the ball" refers to the physical act rather than the responsibilities of the position as a whole. This interpretation makes more sense because of how quarterbacks succeed and fail in the NFL.

Quarterbacks who sustain success in the NFL generally do so because of their ability to read coverages and mitigate pressure in the pocket. Those are traits shared by quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It's not a coincidence that those aspects of the position are the most difficult to master. At the college level, you can be an effective starter if you are somewhat accurate with enough arm strength to throw the ball to different areas of the field. In the NFL, the windows tighten and the coverages become more complex, so you can't simply rely on your physical talent to thrive. Furthermore, the pass-rushing ability of professional adults is dramatically higher than that of their college student counterparts, so you have less time and less space from which to make those more complex reads.

Finding a quarterback who is advanced technically and mentally at a young age is extremely rare. It's why there was such an outcry from media types when Teddy Bridgewater slid in the first round of the 2014 draft. Twelve months later, the NFL didn't whiff on Jameis Winston's acumen.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Winston first overall in the 2015 draft. Winston had proven himself to be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation back in 2013. The then-redshirt freshman was a foundational piece of a Florida State team that was littered with NFL talent. He won the Heisman Trophy after throwing the game-winning touchdown pass in the National Championship Game. More significantly, Winston showcased a skill set that had NFL scouts and draft analysts drooling. Because he was still just 19 years of age, the expectation was that Winston would only improve the more he played. That wasn't the case, as the FSU starter regressed in 2014, but the strengths of his skill set were still regularly put on show.

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During his rookie season with the Buccaneers, Winston wasn't overly protected like many quarterbacks are. Many quarterbacks are eased into the professional level. Their coaching staffs scheme simplified coverage reads by relying on play-action and screens while asking the center to set protections in passing situations. The Buccaneers did rely on a run-heavy offense and used six offensive linemen more often than all but one team in the league last year, but they were only average in their use of play-action and ranked 30th in their use of shotgun/pistol formations. Dirk Koetter didn't overly stress Winston, but the quarterback was still tasked with doing more than most rookies are. The above play against the New York Giants highlights the base of Winston's success.

From the all-22 angle above, we can see how the Giants defense lines up. The unit is aggressive early by pushing seven defenders into blitzing positions at the line of scrimmage. Winston sets his protections and appears to signal to his wide receiver at the bottom of the screen to reset further towards the sideline. Winston was expecting man coverage based on the pre-snap alignment, and the Giants didn't do anything unexpected before the ball was snapped. This meant that he could immediately find his slot receiver for a first down, converting the third-and-5. Moving the outside receiver to that side of the field further towards the sideline was crucial for the success of this play because it meant Winston didn't need to be concerned about the outside cornerback lingering in the spot where was going to throw the ball.

The end zone angle allows us to get a better look at the protection adjustment Winston made.

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Even though the Giants have seven defenders in the box and the Buccaneers have seven potential blockers, Winston only has six blockers to work with, plus one chip block coming from his tight end. He could alter the play to keep a seventh blocker in, but he can't be certain that the safety who dropped into the box is blitzing or playing man coverage. Instead, Winston sets up his protections so that every defender is definitely accounted for except for that safety. That safety is the furthest player away from the quarterback, so if he is given a free route, Winston will have more time to get rid of the ball then he would with any other free defender. Furthermore, that safety is the least likely blitzer, and the one player who can impact the design of the coverage more than anyone else in the picture. Winston can't adjust his protection right up until the ball is snapped, so he has to play the percentages and then react after the snap if something changes.

He doesn't need to react on this occasion, but he does have to deliver the ball with good timing.

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Winston has a window to hit with his accuracy, but also a window to hit with his timing. He has to let the routes develop so that the outside cornerback can't react once the ball is in the air. The outside cornerback is unlikely to because of the coverage that the Giants are playing, but that's easy to see from this position and a lot tougher to diagnose in the milliseconds you have from Winston's position. He also has to give his slot receiver enough time to get downfield so that the safety can't anticipate the play to cut in front of his route. While showing that patience, Winston also has to get rid of the ball before the unopposed blitz from the strong safety arrives. That safety will emphatically close Winston's timing window.

There are many plays like this one from Winston's rookie season that highlight his acumen. There are more that highlight his pocket presence, movement, and ability to throw receivers open with anticipation. That base of his skill set gives him a high probability of being a good starting quarterback for the duration of his career.

It won't make him great though.

For Winston to come close to scratching the surface of his potential, he has two major flaws that need to be addressed. The first is an obvious one: his turnovers. After that historical 2013 season in college, Winston became a turnover machine in 2014. Winston had a 40-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013 before throwing 25 touchdowns to 18 interceptions in 2014, with seven fumbles. Winston was regularly throwing his team into holes during the first halves of games that he would then play an integral role in overcoming during the second halves. What was most concerning about Winston's interceptions was how repetitive the reasons for them were. Despite his obvious acumen, Winston regularly made awful decisions and had an apparent blind spot for underneath coverage.

A lot of his struggles were blamed on an offseason spent playing baseball. Whether that was an issue or not, Winston's interception issues in college carried over into his rookie season.

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Fifteen interceptions for a rookie isn't historically an awful number. Thirty-seven quarterbacks have thrown 15 or more interceptions since the merger, with notable names such as Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, Kerry Collins, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton on the list. In this era of football, 15 interceptions is a lot more significant than it has previously been. Only four quarterbacks threw more interceptions than Winston last year and, most significantly, Winston's interceptable pass number was extremely high. Winston threw an interceptable pass once every 20.6 attempts. Only six quarterbacks threw an interceptable pass more often. Three of those played hurt for varying periods, one was Johnny Manziel, and the remaining two were Blake Bortles and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Interceptions are a major flaw that could very easily disappear. Of Winston's 26 interceptable passes last year, 16 were deemed to be a result of bad decisions. Of those 16, seven came over the first four games of the regular season. Bad decisions should theoretically become less frequent the more experience a quarterback gains, so Winston has reason for optimism in terms of taking care of the football. It's not a guarantee that he will improve in this area, but it's closer to probable than plausible.

The remaining interceptable passes were a result of poor accuracy. Accuracy is Winston's other major flaw at this point of his career, and it's one that is much less likely to be fixed.

Jameis Winston Accuracy Chart, 2015
Distance To 5 6-15 16-25 26-plus
Outside Numbers Left 77.1% 35 74.1% 27 48.0% 25 26.7% 15
Outside Hashes Left 88.4% 43 75.0% 36 81.3% 16 0.0% 5
Between Hashes 91.7% 24 58.3% 12 62.5% 8 50.0% 2
Outside Hashes Right 80.4% 51 75.4% 57 59.1% 22 25.0% 4
Outside Numbers Right 82.9% 35 55.8% 52 55.6% 18 22.2% 9

No quarterback had a worse overall accuracy percentage amongst the 35 quarterbacks who were charted for the Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback Catalogue. Winston had a 71.9 percent accuracy rate. He was the only quarterback to not crack the 72 percent mark, and only he and Fitzpatrick were below 73 percent for the season. In the context of their schemes, Winston was probably more accurate than Fitzpatrick despite the total number. Koetter runs a vertical passing game that asked Winston to regularly push the ball downfield last year. While that context should push him above Fitzpatrick, it isn't enough to suggest that he could be an average or even a below-average passer when it comes to accuracy. As the above chart highlights, Winston's accuracy to every level of the field is bad, independent of his awful deep passing.

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What needs to be noted about Winston is that he had a significant number of highlight throws that can be pointed to as examples of accuracy. The problem with pointing to those individual plays is that he was regularly pairing them with six or seven wild misses on simpler throws. Offenses typically rely on the simpler throws, so missing simpler throws is more of a problem than hitting highlight throws is a solution.

Fortunately for the Buccaneers, they had big receivers who could consistently adjust at the catch point to pull in off-target but catchable passes from Winston during his rookie season. That's a nice benefit to have, but it's not something you want to rely on over the course of a quarterback's career. For one, it's difficult to maintain that quality around the position, and those receivers can only do so much. They will have more drops because of poor ball placement and they can't cover for the quarterback when he misses so wildly that the ball isn't catchable.

As the chart above shows, one of Winston's biggest challenges is throwing to the right sideline.

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Mike Evans' drops became a storyline last year, rightfully so, but those drops overshadowed how often Winston cost Evans opportunities to make plays after he had beaten the defensive back covering him. Evans is an outstanding talent with the size, athleticism, and ball skills to offer his quarterback a margin for error at the catch point that is greater than 95 percent of the receivers in the league. He doesn't need perfect service, but he does need better than what he got last year. The above GIF highlights the kind of miss that Winston had way too often to every level of the field on a regular basis last year.

The Buccaneers get Evans isolated on cornerback Charles Tillman in the slot. The recently retired Tillman was once a great cornerback, but injuries and age made him an easy matchup for Evans in 2015. Evans is able to overpower Norman by first setting him up with his stem. When he comes out of his break, he is wide open. Winston has no pressure in the pocket, so he should easily lay the ball in front of Evans, giving the receiver a chance to catch the ball and turn upfield for a big gain. At worst Winston should give Evans a catchable pass that allows him to make the first-down reception.

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Sometimes quarterbacks will consistently miss receivers in specific ways. To most areas of the field, there wasn't a trend to how Winston missed except that he often missed wildly (exemplified by the above GIFs). However, when throwing to the right side of the field, and particularly to Evans, Winston constantly either underthrew or placed the ball too far infield. He often asked his receivers to make a difficult adjustment or took them out of the play completely.

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Winston doesn't have a great arm. His arm strength is more than adequate but it's hampered by his obvious mechanical imbalance. Winston's passes tend to float to all levels of the field, and he doesn't show off the requisite precision to say that he is simply being overly reliant on touch throws. The best measurement of arm strength typically comes on how a receiver throws downfield. Stronger armed quarterbacks can easily push the ball downfield so their mechanics don't change and they don't need to force the ball. This allows the better quarterbacks with strong arms to throw with precision on 20-plus-yard throws. Because Winston's passes tend to float off target so often, he is reduced to hoping that his passes are catchable rather than expecting them to be perfectly placed with precision. Andy Dalton is a great example of a quarterback who throws the ball this way.

This lack of arm talent and precision is highlighted most on these throws to Evans.

In the above GIF against the Atlanta Falcons, Evans runs a deep curl route where he turns towards the sideline and is expecting the ball to arrive after he turns. It should arrive either in front of his face or outside so it leads him towards the sideline and away from the defender. Instead, Winston puts the ball so far inside Evans that it is essentially between him and the arriving cornerback, Desmond Trufant. Trufant plays the receiver and Evans is very quick to react to Winston's misplaced pass. With a less talented receiver on the end of this pass, Winston was very likely throwing an interceptable pass. Most receivers of Evans' size would not have reacted or moved to the ball as quickly as Evans did, while most smaller receivers would have been more likely to take punishment from the arriving Trufant.

Regardless, the throw, independent of its specific target, was a poor one.

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Winston struggled to take advantage of defensive backs when his receivers beat them deep. He had a number of throws that looked exactly like the above one against the Philadelphia Eagles, where the ball dropped 5 or 6 yards short of where it needed to be.

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The above play against the Dallas Cowboys highlights Winston's arm. This is a difficult throw because of how he contorts his body. Winston needs to push the ball towards the sideline to lead him away from the trailing defensive back, but instead his pass floats and arrives inside. This makes Brandon Carr the favorite to get to the ball ahead of Evans.

Too many of Winston's throws looked like the ones highlighted in the GIFs in this article. Whether it's a mechanical issue, an arm talent issue, a natural inability to throw with precision, or a combination of all three, it doesn't matter. Winston's inaccuracy is what's preventing him from being anything more than an average quarterback at this point. If he corrects his accuracy he can become an above-average starter, at which point he can start working on becoming a great quarterback over time.


64 comments, Last at 19 Aug 2016, 5:15pm

#1 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jul 21, 2016 - 5:27pm

Good read Cian

It looks to me like he doesn't step into his throws enough? His back foot hardly seems to leave the ground, so he's not getting much power from his hips and having to rely on his shoulders/arm to generate it instead.

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#16 by jtr // Jul 22, 2016 - 11:32am

I'm seeing the same thing in these GIF's. It reminds me a bit of Cam Newton, who also routinely fails to step into throws, even when he has room to do so. Winston doesn't have Cam's unreal arm strength, so he can't muscle a frozen rope to his receiver with his feet set the way Cam does.

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#60 by aceofsween // Jul 29, 2016 - 12:49pm

The difference being that Cam Newton has the arm strength to overcome these mechanical problems. Yes, Cam had a tendency to throw the ball high, but rarely were they wildly off.

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#18 by BumpAndRun // Jul 22, 2016 - 12:26pm

Baseball really messed with his lower body mechanics. He'll overstride and sail the ball high and his front foot is often pointed sideways (which you can see a lot in these clips) and not at the target. He's worked a lot on his lower body strength and flexibility this off-season, will have to wait and see how much that helps and how much progress he's actually made mechanically.

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#2 by Theo // Jul 21, 2016 - 6:17pm

"That interpretation feels like it belongs in a fairy tale... because nobody who loses consistently is praised for his leadership or clutchness."

No - they are criticized for a lack thereof.
The QB needs to be made a leader or needs to step up as a leader. If you can't handle that pressure, you won't be a QB.

That's not the stuff of fairy tales, that's just stuff of how leading a group of men works.

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#4 by bravehoptoad // Jul 21, 2016 - 7:36pm

Sure, but winning or losing isn't a measure of leadership. Easy enough to fill a book with great leaders who lost...Erwin Rommel, Hannibal Barca, etc.

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#11 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jul 22, 2016 - 5:45am

I'd say the characteristics of a good leaders is being able to get others to buy into your plan and follow willingly. They're able to get more out of the surrounding cast than others.

Hence Joe Montana is seen as a good leader because of what was achieved at the end of SB XXIIIn - the rest of the offense believed he could lead them down the field. John Elway for what he achieved on The Drive and probably more recently as a GM.

As for how you measure it. Staff survey? ;-)

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#25 by BJR // Jul 22, 2016 - 7:13pm

In those examples, it's difficult to disentangle what is good leadership from what is simply good play.

I don't think it's necessary for a QB to be an outstanding leader in terms of ability to motivate teammates, or get them to follow plans, etc. That's the job of the coach. Clearly a guy who doesn't practice or study hard, or has poor lifestyle habits will struggle to command the respect of his teammates, but that's mostly because it is likely to manifest itself in bad play. Winston needs to take care of his own game, improve, play well, and the rest will likely follow.

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#26 by theslothook // Jul 23, 2016 - 1:33am

Honestly, the evidence for leadership always comes way after the fact and the only reason I hear the one's I do is because I follow certain players closely. For example - Manning's leadership led to Brandon Marshall getting off the practice squad. He also famously gathers his receivers together to get on the same page.

That's evidence for Manning's leadership, but it doesn't then imply that ANdy Dalton or Tom Brady or Cowherd's favorite AARon Rodgers are lacking similar leadership qualities; they may just not be talked about.

And in the end, how important is any of this to the bottom line? If Manning was half the qb he was but double the leadership, would it matter?

Do we really believe it was Montana's leadership that had them believing in him versus him being an awesome qb??? And as a blocker/receiver, does it matter if you think your qb is a leader? Don't you want to block for your qb because that's your job and you have pride in it? And can you even be a great leader with lousy qb skills from the start?

That's my whole problem...none of this can be measured so its effectively worthless. Not that leadership is worthless, but our using it as some discernible criteria for measuring qbs.

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#29 by Noahrk // Jul 24, 2016 - 11:05am

It's true it's hard to measure because it's so tied up with performance. To me QB leadership is about confidence in yourself, your teammates, knowing what everybody is supposed to be doing and "taking an interest" in that they do it well. It's hard to be a good QB if you take the stance that you're simply going to do your job well and mind your own business. You have to own the fact that it's *your* offense, not just your job to chuck footballs.

If you want to try and measure it, you have to do it subjectively by watching the player off the field, how he talks and conducts himself, etc. Just like you would with a head coach or anybody else. If you watch him and listen to him enough, you can easily tell a guy like Philbin, for example, has no leadership qualities, and not because his results were bad -they could have been worse, after all. How? Simply ask yourself, does this man inspire me? Would I follow him and trust him with my well-being? If he said, for example, "let's go down this dark alley", would you say "you must be confused, that is not the best way to go" or suspect him of ill-intent, or would you instantly assume there was a good reason for it?

That's leadership. As a blocker or receiver, does it matter that you believe in your QB? Yes, it most definitely does. Say he calls an audible. It matters if you're thinking "not again!" or "I wonder if..." or simply trusting the call. Would you risk your health to try and make the play work? Only if you trust the play. Can you be a great leader with lousy skills? Not really, quality is a prerequisite of leadership because no one trusts an inept leader. But you could have talent and lack leadership and that would hurt you very much indeed. When the ingredients -as an offense- seem to be there but the results aren't, you may suspect lack of leadership. If the QB fails the dark alley test, then you can subjectively confirm it.

To name just one player, Jay Fiedler. Not great skills, but a great leader in my mind. McNabb would be the opposite for me. Oh, and it's not a race thing. Greatest sports leader ever? Michael Jordan and it's not even close. Brian Griese would be one of the worse I remember on the other end.

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#33 by ChrisS // Jul 25, 2016 - 4:56pm

In sports the best way to be a good leader is to be a great player first. Everyone wants to do what the best players do in order to replicate that performance. Not all great players are good leaders but excellent performance is the easiest way to become a leader.

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#32 by BJR // Jul 25, 2016 - 3:11pm

My belief is that, as a blocker or receiver, you are going to believe in your QB when he calls an audible if you believe he is good at calling audibles, not because of some nebulous notion of how good a leader they are.

We've all also seen Tom Brady openly showing disgust after a dropped pass or blown assignment, usually followed by chewing the offending teammate out on the sidelines. Losing your temper and ranting at somebody after they've made an honest mistake would not generally be considered the characteristic of a good leader. But because he is great at anticipating defenses and throwing footballs accurately, nobody accuses Brady of poor leadership.

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#37 by Noahrk // Jul 26, 2016 - 7:31pm

Are we now discussing whether leadership's even a real thing? Leadership is not a nebulous notion, it's a personality trait that makes people respond to you in a certain way. It is very real, the only question is how important it is to QBs.

In the Tom Brady example, I disagree. I think Brady has top leadership qualities. Far better than Manning, in my opinion. Shouting would be bad in a business setting, but I think it's perfectly natural in physical sports.

In fact, if you concede that a good leader makes personal sacrifices for the good of the team while a lesser leader is more selfish, that's checkmate right there, as Brady consistently taking less money while Manning took all he could was at least an important factor in the playoff success of these two players.

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#38 by theslothook // Jul 26, 2016 - 8:52pm

But the mechanism for why the team is better is because the money saved led to signing better players.

Im questioning the assumption that anyone can precisely measure leadership enough to distinguish good from bad. Care to explain how brady far surpassed Manning besides taking less money?

Also does the money thing imply Brady is a more valuable player but a worse qb to peyton?

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#42 by Noahrk // Jul 27, 2016 - 1:41pm

I agree with you, it's impossible to measure it precisely. Apart from taking less money... well, that would be the main and only objective reason. The rest is perception. The thing is that leadership is mostly perception. Not ours as fans, but the players'. So from the outside we can only make subjective judgments about subjective judgements. No way to know for sure, but it's fun to talk about.

That last question is very interesting. In my opinion the answer is definitely yes. I believe Peyton was better, but I'd rather have Brady.

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#43 by Kaelik // Jul 27, 2016 - 2:56pm

So you are saying that having a rich wife makes you a better leader? Wow. That's maybe the worst argument I've ever heard.

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#46 by Noahrk // Jul 28, 2016 - 10:33am

I've heard that argument a lot: Brady takes less money because his wife is rich. How about looking at a control group, like basketball players, who make much more money than football players? If basketball players are more likely to take less money, then that proves that after amassing a fortune of certain size you don't care about money as much. If not, it proves no amount of money is ever enough. That's to not even bring owners or other billionaires into it. Once they have achieved the threshold, they should be pretty laid back about money, shouldn't they?

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#50 by Kaelik // Jul 28, 2016 - 5:54pm

It's weird, because you are the one refusing to recognize economic reality, while at the same time claiming that taking less money is a sign of "Leadership."

Tom Brady has access to more money than other QBs outside his salary, he therefore takes less salary, since he gets the obvious benefit of a better team around him. Everyone has to make that trade off, but Tom Brady is the one with money sacks full of money even if he's never paid a scent.

Basketball players do take less money when they have access to a certain fortune, Lebron did it for a long time (and stopped because of principle reasons, not monetary ones).

That's proof that Tom Brady is taking less money because at a certain amount of money that is much more than Peyton Manning has, but less than Tom Brady and Lebron has, people are willing to sacrifice a little money for something else (like rings).

That's not an argument for Tom Brady's leadership, that's an argument for his fat sacks of cash being fatter than Mannings.

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#51 by theslothook // Jul 28, 2016 - 6:18pm

Or if you believe what blank said(I forgot who on the forums said this) - Brady is secretly being paid under the table by the patriots via stock in a hot dog vending company operating in Gillette stadium. (he must get free ketchup packets as a signing bonus).

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#53 by Kaelik // Jul 28, 2016 - 7:18pm

How dare you demean Brady in that way, he would take only the highest class stock in money laundering. He would never demean himself with mere hot dog vending stock.

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#55 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jul 29, 2016 - 4:48am

"Tom Brady has access to more money than other QBs outside his salary, he therefore takes less salary, since he gets the obvious benefit of a better team around him."

Until you ask Tom you don't know why he agrees to take less money. You can make guesses and use reasoning but don't displace your own values and lifestyle into his and then claim it's the only possibility.

- Perhaps he does it because he values winning titles more than he values money.
- Perhaps he does it because with his male model looks and playing success he knows he'll be able to earn lots of money through other endorsements the rest of his life.
- Perhaps he has 'issues' with money in ways you or I can't understand and doesn't want to stand out of the crowd because of money.
- Maybe he's a socialist and believes everybody should have their fair share.
- Maybe it is because he's got a rich wife.

You don't know until you ask Tom.

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#59 by theslothook // Jul 29, 2016 - 11:02am

That cuts both ways though. You can't then claim that Tom Brady is all about the team without knowing his real motivations

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#57 by Noahrk // Jul 29, 2016 - 10:45am

"Better" is a relative term. By the same token I might argue that because Manning has much more money in the bank than, say, Fitzpatrick, it would be easy for him to take less money. But he didn't, did he. There's always someone else who is poorer and someone else who is richer. The only constant is greed, as defined as the unquenchable desire for more. To break the hold of greed is commendable no matter how much you already have in the bank.

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#58 by theslothook // Jul 29, 2016 - 10:59am

Getting paid market value, which NFL players do not, is considered greedy to you?

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#45 by BJR // Jul 27, 2016 - 3:47pm

Of course leadership is a real thing, I did not mean to suggest otherwise. My issue is conflating leadership with playing ability, particularly in the mental aspects of the game.

If another mediocre QB behaved like Brady sometimes does on the sidelines, he would probably enjoy a lot less popularity amongst media, fans, teammates (I agree that it's natural to want to shout at your teammates on the sports-field after an error, but it's rarely productive.) I'm sure there are many other things you could point to, or spin, to demonstrate he is a good leader. Ultimately it doesn't matter - he's a great QB.

I certainly had no intention of turning this into a Manning/Brady debate.

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#47 by Noahrk // Jul 28, 2016 - 10:36am

I don't see how you can separate them. Just like we can't accurately separate individual performance from unit (offense/defense) performance, we can't really separate physical ability from psychological traits.

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#48 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jul 28, 2016 - 11:55am

1. Fortitude. Mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously; the strength of mind along with physical and moral courage to persevere in the face of adversity

2. Temperance/Responsibility. Self-discipline to control passions and appetites; being accountable, pursuing excellence, exercising self-restraint in action, statement; self-control

3. Prudence. Practical wisdom and the ability to make the right choice in specific situations

4. Justice/Fairness. Honesty, lawfulness, keeping promises; adherence to a balanced standard of justice without relevance to one’s own feelings or inclinations

5. Trustworthiness. Deserving of trust or confidence, dependable, reliable; honesty, integrity, loyalty; refraining from deception

6. Respect. Behavior toward others; civility, courtesy, decency, dignity, autonomy, tolerance, and acceptance; the prohibition of humiliation, manipulation, and exploitation

7. Caring. Honest expressions of benevolence and altruism

8. Citizenship. The state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen

Taken from

[As fans it's hard for us to measure most of those probably only #1 & #3 are evident when watching a game. But for teammates (or coaches) the others will come through during practice and around the building.]

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#56 by Noahrk // Jul 29, 2016 - 10:42am

Good post. The first six I find it easy to agree with. I might change seven for selflessness and define it as putting the good of the whole above the good of the individual (and his own personal advantage in particular). Eight I don't know what to make of.

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#3 by Dan // Jul 21, 2016 - 7:33pm

This is my favorite article in the series this offseason.

I'm curious how fixable these problems are. Have other QBs had similar weaknesses as rookies and then fixed them? Are there particular mechanical flaws that we can pinpoint, and are they things that often get better with more years of work in the NFL?

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#23 by MilkmanDanimal // Jul 22, 2016 - 2:52pm

As a Bucs fan, I find this stuff worrisome, because obvious reasons. The canary in the Bad Mechanics Coal Mine is pretty much Tebow, and there's that whole issue of no matter how much practice you do, your body tends to rely on muscle memory when instinct takes over.

I got the feeling Winston played with a sense of marginally-controlled chaos last year, undoubtedly in part due to a very young offensive line and a pretty empty WR corps. I'm trying to be optimistic a year later will improve it all, and he'll settle down in the pocket.

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#24 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jul 22, 2016 - 3:46pm

The problem with learning new skills is that when the brain stores movement patterns it doesn't get rid of the old ones. It just lays down a new track.

The more quality practice you do with the new pattern, the stronger it becomes but there is always the danger that you'll invoke the old one at an inappropriate time.

Context is also important. The closer the learning environment is to the situation that will be used, the more likely it is to be the one to fire. Therefore it's hard to teach Tebow to throw with new mechanics in a NFL game because he's not learning in a NFL-like situation.

This is why golf pro's, tennis pro's, dance teachers or whoever would prefer to take a complete beginner and teach them from scratch with perfect technique rather than take someone who's played for a while and wants to get rid of bad habits.

You can't get rid of the bad habits, you can only build a new pattern that becomes stronger and the norm. Whereas if you only have one pattern then it's the one you'll rely on irrespective of the context you learned in.

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#39 by ansum // Jul 26, 2016 - 10:35pm

"The problem with learning new skills is that when the brain stores movement patterns it doesn't get rid of the old ones. It just lays down a new track.
The more quality practice you do with the new pattern, the stronger it becomes but there is always the danger that you'll invoke the old one at an inappropriate time."

I agree with this statement in regards to most, but not all sports. As someone who has participated in and observed a wide variety of sports for most of his life, I feel that the possibility of reversion to bad habits/patterns is perpetual in athletics that require unnatural movements of the body, i.e. throwing an egg-shaped inflatable or swinging a netted paddle or peculiar club across your body at a minimally resistant projectile. The mind has to operate in tandem with the body to consistently accomplish something it was not designed to do. Thus, especially whilst under duress, the chance of picking the wrong "wrong" pattern will always be there, as there can be no absolute harmony with the mind/body.

On the other end of the spectrum we have sports that showcase proper biomechanics in all their glory. While the typical recreational runner displays awful body awareness and mechanics, the elite runner who has discovered and established the natural feel and flow for the innate human motion is the epitome of body/mind efficiency and poses no undue stress on the body outside of a competitive context. Achieving proper posture and rhythm so that everything is on time and in unison is very possible in my opinion. The breakdown of form for the elite runner comes from fatigue, not re-emergent bad form.
The same can be said for some martial arts, specifically jiu-jitsu or judo (submission grappling) in my experience. The movements when understood, are completely logical in terms of the give and take between two bodies. When drilled diligently and consistently I absolutely believe bad habits can be erased and replaced because the good ones become second nature over time as everything has a natural, indisputable ogic that can't be broken once they are truly part of you. The elite grappler loses technique during a fight not because their old faulty concepts creep back up, but rather because they are exhausted or hurt and can no longer perform the way they would like to.

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#41 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jul 27, 2016 - 10:52am

"On the other end of the spectrum we have sports that showcase proper biomechanics in all their glory. While the typical recreational runner displays awful body awareness and mechanics, the elite runner who has discovered and established the natural feel and flow for the innate human motion is the epitome of body/mind efficiency and poses no undue stress on the body outside of a competitive context. Achieving proper posture and rhythm so that everything is on time and in unison is very possible in my opinion."

That sounds very Victorian. So much so that I wonder if it was cribbed from a pre-1940s publication.

Very few events exhibit "proper biomechanics," if such a thing can even be an agreed-upon concept at all. We still haven't agreed upon the proper biomechanics for standing -- our best guess is that it's at least a three-parameter optimization that constantly selects away from the criterion currently closest to failure. I don't know that we've agreed upon whether its possible to run at all without the risk of incurring some transient damage.

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#44 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jul 27, 2016 - 3:11pm

Elite mechanics

Priscah Jeptoo - Olympic silver medallist marathon

Jim Furyk - 2003 US Open winner

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#5 by theslothook // Jul 21, 2016 - 9:16pm

I really want someone(ie not me) to look at Peyton Manning's rookie year to see if he displayed the same abilities then that he did later in his career.

Curiously, the best qb as a rookie ive ever seen was matt ryan. Anyone else agree?

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#10 by Thomas_beardown // Jul 22, 2016 - 12:28am

Luck was pretty great right away. Certainly choosing between these two would be hard.

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#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jul 22, 2016 - 9:35am

Luck is the king of the interceptable pass. His absence from the comps list is conspicuous.

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#27 by theslothook // Jul 23, 2016 - 1:37am

There's an argument that Luck carries a bad team and that's true. There's also an argument that Luck is himself a mistake prone sloppy qb and that is true.

Luck feels like a carbon copy of favre without the same durability. In the past, I have lamented that fact because I was spoiled by his predecessor, but I should really learn to appreciate it. You can do a whole lot worse than Favre as your next best qb to root for.

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#9 by theslothook // Jul 21, 2016 - 11:49pm

This is nothing against Cian(seriously, I love his work) but the part that I think ruffles some feathers is how confident he is in his assessments. I don't deny, watching every throw can give someone that feeling, but its remarkable how volatile qb seasons are year to year and week to week that I feel any amount of certainty is a stretch.

I feel this way about pff writers too and their grades. A cursory look at them will reveal just how much they bounce around season to season. Sure, a handful of players routinely grade well, but its remarkable how corners can go from great to awful in the span of one season.

Very little is certain in the NFL and it takes a long time of repeat performance before I believe in a player.

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#15 by Aaron Schatz // Jul 22, 2016 - 10:47am

To defend PFF's grades -- I can't believe I'm doing this, but here goes -- we've discovered the same issue with our cornerback charting metrics. In fact, the same issue exists simply anecdotally, without any numbers involved. It's rather remarkable how much cornerback performance seems to oscillate from year to year. There are only a few exceptions among the best corners, and even they don't rank in the top 10 every year in the metrics. Antonio Cromartie is the epitome of this problem, especially when I say that this problem exists not only with charting metrics and with subjective PFF-style grading but anecdotally as well. Read scouting reports on Cromartie in different years and you are reading about a completely different player.

This only explains wild swings in grading when it comes to cornerbacks, but it does seem to be a strange phenomenon with players at the position.

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#17 by Cian Fahey // Jul 22, 2016 - 12:10pm

For what it's worth, PSR CB charting has been very consistent from year to year. It's just not realistically possible to do for every cornerback every year.

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#31 by Aaron Schatz // Jul 25, 2016 - 12:44pm

I think this may be in part because you are focusing on the best cornerbacks, not the average ones.

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#22 by theslothook // Jul 22, 2016 - 1:58pm

That gets to my broader point. Its not that I think the grades are flawed or charting is wrong. Far from it. Its just illustrating just how curious nfl performance can be. It really does seem like people just play poorly or well wildly year to year with no real explanation as to why.

Btw, this is not limited to just corners - though they are the most extreme. It happens with pass rushing effectiveness, run blocking, pass blocking, etc etc.

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#36 by bigpoppapump // Jul 26, 2016 - 12:51pm

There's a relatively straightforward likely explanation (which is itself unknowable):

Perhaps there's a limit to the value of stats based analysis of individuals in a team game?

Not to say stats lack value. But maybe there's a point where you've got enough info and more info becomes less, not more valuable...

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#19 by Cian Fahey // Jul 22, 2016 - 12:39pm

I thought this was a good, interesting comment so I'm going to respond with greater depth than I typically would in the comments section.

Me being confident in my work is a result of a couple of things. I've been doing this a long time. I feel like I've refined what I'm doing to a point that my process is good. More importantly, my evaluations primarily focus on what has happened rather than making strong statements about what will happen. This specific article talks about what Winston needs to do to become a better quarterback based on what he did last year, it doesn't definitively say that Winston will become a superstar or that he will be out of the league by 2018.

When your primary focus is to review what has happened, it's rational to be confident in your convictions.

Where I have problems with people being overly confident is when they are predicting forward or when they are ranking specific players or units. Nobody can predict forward in the NFL. It's the most unpredictable league in the world. What you can do is lower the uncertainty from 100 percent to 80 percent or maybe even lower if you're really great at your job. The smartest NFL analyst understands that he'll never know more than he doesn't know in that regard. As for the ranking element of it, the issue I have there is that everyone values different things. Even if you are doing rigid, criteria-based charting, you are still determining the value of the things you are looking at. You decide the prominence everything is given, so when you rank whatever you are watching you can't present it as 'The definitive rankings of Quarterbacks' or whatever. You'll note if you have read the QB Catalogue, there are no rankings in there because I don't believe you can actually rank quarterbacks. Hopefully I'll never be in a position where I have to.

Ultimately, I don't think me being confident in my work is actually a factor when it comes to people not liking my work. 99 percent of the time it's simply that my work suggests a QB is bad who they think is good or vice versa. Which is fine, I don't require people to enjoy or even respect what I do, it's here for those who want it.

Thank you for your insight.

P.S: Your point about QB's being volatile in performance from season to season is spot on. My opinions on specific quarterbacks have changed dramatically from year to year over the past five or six years. Examples such as Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson. There are also many examples of QBs where it hasn't changed though and that's becuase the situation around those quarterbacks changed: Ryan Tannehill, Carson Palmer, Josh McCown, Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick etc.

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#20 by theslothook // Jul 22, 2016 - 1:13pm

For me personally, my opinion of Tom Brady has changed so much.

The other player who I've been slow to change my opinion on has been Big Ben. Is he a fundamentally different player or is that he's now in a different scheme with possibly the best pure route running receiver since Jerry Rice?

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#21 by Cian Fahey // Jul 22, 2016 - 1:17pm

Roethlisberger changed a lot with Haley IMO. Way more controlled and precise, better timing and more of a stereotypical pocket quarterback. Aaron and I previously debated his deep ball as I was more critical of it a few years back but see it as good over recent times.

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#30 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Jul 25, 2016 - 12:07pm

If you're really that confident, then it would be nice if you would go back to the Aaron Rodgers article and address the point I raised.

The standard is the standard!

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#49 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Jul 28, 2016 - 1:43pm

Oh well, guess not.

The standard is the standard!

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#63 by Alaska Jack // Aug 01, 2016 - 4:17pm

I think it would probably help relax him, you know, take the edge off for training camp.

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#12 by alan frankel // Jul 22, 2016 - 7:25am

Leadership is not a huge factor its about respect.If you do proper preperation and show up on time to practice and meetings like your supposed to then hour players will follow you. Leadership is not nessecarily and independant trait vut a sum of the parts of a players commitment to the game.

Winstons biggest issue is his lack of desire on the practice field. As Cian said in the article Winston had all these problems in FSU and it seems he has done little to correct them. His throwing mechanics and footwork need alot of work and so far we haven't seen th commitment from him to change. The mentalbside of his game is solid but he needa ro prove he is willig to work on discipline before he gets to the next level

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#28 by formattedfire11 // Jul 24, 2016 - 1:16am

In fairness to Jameis Winston, this is/was his first full offseason devoted towards football without the distraction of baseball or combine/draft related things taking-up his time, in addition to learning a new playbook. Another commenter mentioned it above, but I believe Jameis has been working on his mechanics this offseason, so we will see what kind of results they yield.

I do feel you're underrating (severely perhaps) his arm strength. I believe it was the elongated motion, the sometimes side ways step into his throws and/or not stepping to his throws at all that makes it appear from our vantage point (non-field level) that he isn't getting much on the throw. You don't throw a baseball 95-plus off a pitchers mound, or clear the Pike House at FSU (on youtube) with a football without a strong-arm! I'll give you a couple of examples of his arm strength last season. The Washington TD pass to Evans. The Redskins CB (blackmon) was in position to make the play on the ball, and yet Winston put a lot of zip forty plus yards down the field and actually lead Evans to the score. Blackmon is quoted as saying "he can make everythrow", and that "he threw a rocket on the play!" ( - 2:22 mark) The other example is on Saints roll-out play where Winston throws an absolute frozen rope on the dead run on a line to Louis Murphy. Murphy actually falls down making the catch, other wise it's a likely six. Winston absolutely has the arm make every throw, and a comparable arm to the likes of Rodgers in Green Bay.

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#34 by alan frankel // Jul 25, 2016 - 8:44pm

Most quarter backs have the theoretical strength to throw the ball with control in isolated circumstances but Winstons poor mechanics often overshadow his decent arm and occasionall perfect accuracy. Its important to note that he does not posses the exceptional arm strength nessecary to overcome poor mechanics. So while occasionaly hes proven he can potentially make deep throws he has not demenstrated the discpline to consistently get his mechanics in line. Once again he had the same issues throughout his college career and now in the pro's and its the main reason why his counterpart Marcus Mariota has been more succesful to this point.

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#35 by theslothook // Jul 25, 2016 - 8:50pm

Im not sure how you can use mariotta's injury riddled rookie year as evidence of him being more successful than Winston.

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#40 by Hellosolifornia // Jul 27, 2016 - 7:36am

I read all the comments but I like the comment of Mr Alan Franke. His reply seems too matured and like they have lot off experience of team work.

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#64 by liquidmuse3 // Aug 19, 2016 - 5:15pm

Surprised people have forgotten about Winston's weird middle finger on his throwing hand. This came to light his freshman year when he was becoming known. Today everyone's like "why the he'll is the he more accurate?" I say it's somewhat that finger.

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