Jameis Winston had a terrible start to his NFL career against the Tennessee Titans. Not only was his first pass an interception, it was returned for an interception in probably the ugliest loss of Winston’s entire football career. He completed just 16 of 33 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, was sacked four times and fumbled twice — though both were recovered by the Bucs.
Winston also looked uncomfortable in the pocket, sometimes retreating from the rush rather than stepping up and at, sometimes holding onto the ball far too long, and sometimes taking off to run far too quickly. He just didn’t look ready for the NFL or the Titans defense, and he arguably played even worse than his stats suggested.
And despite all of that, this is not something to panic over. Rookie quarterbacks play poorly incredibly frequently, and this is actually more common for pocket quarterbacks than it is for mobile ones. Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck both started their careers throwing one touchdown to three interceptions, for instance. Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III was close to perfect in his debut with not turnovers, two touchdowns and 320 yards on just 26 attempts. Also this:
Before Winston, the last QB to throw a pick-six on his first career pass was Brett Favre.
— Joe Kania (@JoeKaniaBucs) September 14, 2015
The NFL is a different beast from college, and it takes time to fully adjust — even if watching Marcus Mariota today, you’d think it was an easy transition. One game doesn’t say all that much, and comparing quarterbacks who faced vastly different defenses really doesn’t tell you anything.
The Bucs didn’t do much to help Winston, for instance giving him few easy throws and asking him to do quite a bit throughout the game — undoubtedly because of the Titans’ defensive performance. Contrast that with Marcus Mariota, who was given easy throw after easy throw as the Bucs defense seemingly couldn’t cover anyone.
That’s not to say that Winston played well nor to excuse his play. He played poorly and made a lot of rookie mistakes. But that’s what rookies do, especially in their first starts, and it says very little about the rest of his NFL career.
This article was written by Sander Philipse from SB Nation Bucs Nation and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.