NFL

NFL AM: Jameis Winston Shows Tremendous Improvement In Bucs’ Win

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Jameis Improves Significantly

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, looked like anything but a franchise quarterback in his first start against the Minnesota Vikings. Winston locked on to receivers, seemed rushed in the pocket and was inaccurate.

The Florida State product and Heisman Trophy winner improved by leaps and bounds in his second start Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.  Winston opened the game by driving his team down the field 80 yards, capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown scramble.

“My main goal is just to get better every single week,” Winston said after completing eight of his 13 pass attempts for 90 yards in the Bucs 25-11 victory. “My first two passes were checkdowns, so that was a big thing. I don’t believe I had many checkdowns the first game. The main goal for this team is just to get better every week, build on the positives and eliminate the negatives.”

Winston looked decisive in his first home start, went through progressions and delivered accurate passes in tight windows.

“What good things did I see from Jameis? Most of it,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith responded. “Jameis would probably tell you he would like to have that deep ball back, probably. Besides that I thought he was accurate throughout. Even some of the incompletions, I thought the ball was right there. A couple good plays by their defenders. I felt like he was in control from the start. He had an excellent week of preparation and he played winning football tonight.”

To put it simply, he looked like a first-overall pick and gave Buccaneers fans a glimpse of what could be with their first true franchise quarterback.

“I have so much confidence in this kid,” Buccaneers defensive end George Johnson said. “I think he’s going to have a great year. He’s just so smart. He’s picked up everything fast and he sees things on the field that a veteran sees. It’s a lot of fun playing with him. We work on a lot of things and communicate each and every day in practice and we are going to continue to make big plays. He’s an aggressive guy, he wants to stand there in the pocket. You can see he’s not scared to stand in there and deliver the ball down the field and that’s going to help us this year.”

There will be a lot of ups and downs as Winston goes through his rookie season.  He will undoubtedly make a lot of plays down the field and throw a lot of interceptions.  That’s all part of the rookie learning curve and with a quarterback that is a true “gunslinger,” he’s going to have to learn from his mistakes.

If the improvement from last week to this week is any barometer, Winston and the Bucs will be just fine.

Hoyer Wins Starting Job By Default

The Houston Texans have named a starting quarterback, and it’s former undrafted free agent Brian Hoyer.

“I felt like it was very important to give Brian the chance to run our offense all week, knowing that he was the starter going into this game,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said.

Hoyer outgunned Ryan Mallet in the quarterback competition, completing 9 of 15 throws, for 119 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in two preseason games.

“Like I’ve said in the past, I believe in him,” O’Brien said. “I believe in his ability to run our offense efficiently. I believe in his experience in our offense. I think he’s shown in the past that he can be a successful starting quarterback.”

Hoyer is your basic, “don’t screw it up,” game manager.  He is a one calorie version of Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith.

Still, this is the best opportunity that Hoyer has had in his career.  He has a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, and the makings of a great defense with the world’s best defensive player, J.J. Watt. If Hoyer can’t win in Houston, he can’t win as a starting quarterback.

“It’s everything I thought it would be when I decided to sign here,” Hoyer said. “It’s been everything that I could have hoped for.”

As for Mallet, the loser of the competition, he is far too erratic with his accuracy and more importantly his decision making to garner the confidence of running an NFL team.  If he couldn’t beat out Brian Hoyer, who can he beat out?

In actuality, the Texans have two backup quarterbacks and one of them had to be named the starter.  Bill O’Brien went with the safer guy and that’s probably the right call with their great defense.

Patriots Sign Reggie Wayne

Always looking for more veterans to go through “the New England Carwash,” the New England Patriots hope that they can make 15-year veteran Reggie Wayne clean and shiny as they signed him to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

With injuries mounting for New England, Wayne is a veteran that is highly respected, not only around league circles, but especially by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

“We’ll find out. We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said during an appearance on WEEI. “We’ve never had him in our system before. I mean I’ve coached him in the Pro Bowl and all that. We just have to see how it goes. He’s had a great career and has done a lot of things for the Colts organization, primarily playing on the left and in more recent years being moved around to playing on the right and also some slot in situations. I think he has a lot of versatility, obviously he has a lot of experience so we’ll have to see how it goes.”

Although veterans like Randy Moss, Corey Dillon and Junior Seau have been successful in New England, guys such as Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) and a host of others haven’t.

Wayne has clearly been slowing down as he had just one catch for 12 yards in three postseason games last season for the Indianapolis Colts.  He no longer has the deep speed he once had, but New England is hoping that he maintains his excellent hands.

The Patriots system is difficult to pick up for many wide receivers, being that they run a lot of option routes, where both the receiver and the quarterback have to read the defense the exact same way and adjust on the fly.  With Wayne being known as a cerebral player, he will have a better chance to pick it up than most.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.