Jameis Winston went from starter to backup this offseason, but his confidence is still sky-high. In an interview with Bleacher Report, Winston called himself “historically . . . one of the best quarterbacks to play the game.”
On the surface, this claim might sound ludicrous. But once you dig a little deeper, as Brandon Tierney did, you realize Winston might have a point.
Think about it. Winston is the youngest player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He won a national title at Florida State. He was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. And last year, he led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards. In fact, he is one of just eight players in NFL history to eclipse the 5,000-yard mark in a season.
“So there’s the early [success in college], and then there’s some statistical accomplishments in the NFL,” Tierney said on Tiki & Tierney. “I know the 5,000 yards is a little different than what it was when Drew Brees first [did it]. I get that. But still, 5,000 is 5,000. He’s dropped 20-something pounds, he’s had LASIK eye surgery, he’s been humbled by this one-year contract, and now he goes into the laboratory of Sean Payton.”
The Buccaneers released Winston after five seasons in March. While Winston led the NFL in passing yards last season, he also finished with a league-high 30 interceptions.
He signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with New Orleans.
While it’s tempting to call Winston an NFL bust, Tierney isn’t ready to do that.
“If you pick up a book and you blast through the first few chapters or you’re 30, 40 minutes into a movie and it’s just not hitting your soul, you’re not connected to it, you’re either ready to close the book, shut off the Kindle or flip off the TV,” he said. “But you decide to stay with it, and guess what? When that review of the book or the movie comes up with your buddies, you say, ‘It kind of started pretty slow, but it actually was really, really interesting. It really gripped me when I didn’t think that it would.’”
In other words, the best might still be to come for Winston. Don’t think that’s possible? Two words: Ryan Tannehill.
The former first-round pick reinvented himself in his age-30 season in Tennessee last year. Tannehill went from backing up Marcus Mariota to starting in the AFC Championship – and was rewarded with a four-year, $118 million contract, including $62 million guaranteed.
Tannehill, by the way, is 31. Winston is 26.
“Ryan Tannehill is a better athlete than Jameis Winston,” Tierney acknowledged. “Stereotypes aside, [Tannehill is] faster. But Ryan Tannehill’s quarterback skillset – I’m not talking about [decision-making], but just his tool box – is vastly inferior to Jameis Winston’s. I think Jameis Winston is still going to be a star.”