Jameis Winston’s 18 interceptions this past season were analyzed to see fully what happened, but that led many to compare Winston’s seven fumbles to Mariota’s seven fumbles and question why Winston doesn’t have similar ball security concerns. This breakdown will help answer that by looking at Winston’s fumbles this past season.
Here are Jameis Winston’s game logs courtesy of FoxSports.com:
Opponent: NC State
Situation: 1st and 10 at FSU 25
Description: Q1 – (6:05) Jameis Winston sacked by T.Y. McGill for a loss of 4 yards to the FlaSt 21 Jameis Winston fumbled, forced by T.Y. McGill, recovered by NCSt Monty Nelson , return for 0 yards
Winston takes the snap from under center and fakes the handoff to his runningback. Winston feels the pressure and steps up into the pocket keeping his eyes downfield. His wide receiver is completely covered but Winston looks to throw him open as he starts breaking outside. Winston takes a big wind-up and gets stripped as DT75 McGill spin moves out of C75 Erving’s control and crashes into his leg in the backfield.
If you watch Winston he is staring down his receiver the entire play and doesn’t see his fullback releasing to the right underneath the five zone coverage. Winston needs to move on from his first read and find his checkdown.
Situation: 2nd and 6 at SYR 48
Description: Q4 – (9:17) Jameis Winston sacked by Ron Thompson for a loss of 15 yards to the FlaSt 37 Jameis Winston fumbled, forced by Ron Thompson, recovered by FlaSt
Winston from shotgun takes the snap and starts his reads down the field looking for one to get open. Syracuse brings four pass rushers. Winston steps up into the pocket and starts moving to the right side of the offensive line as DT13 Johnson comes back from his edge rush to strip Winston from behind.
In this offense, getting the ball out quickly is especially important, so Winston should have gotten off his reads and looked to find his checkdown more quickly in the right flat on 2nd down.
Opponent: Boston College
Situation: 2nd and 10 at BC 19
Description: Q2 – (12:13) Jameis Winston run for a loss of 15 yards to the BC 34 Jameis Winston fumbled, recovered by FlaSt Jameis Winston
In this play, C75 Erving high snaps the ball and Winston can’t control it losing it in the backfield as the offense started to bootleg to the right allowing a free rusher at Winston. This wasn’t Erving’s only high snap of this game as he actually high snaps the next ball, but Winston actually does a great job of adjusting to it. The blame goes to Erving on this one.
Situation: 2nd and Goal at FLA 7
Description: Q2 – (8:53) Jameis Winston run for a loss of 3 yards to the Fla 10 Jameis Winston fumbled, recovered by FlaSt Jameis Winston
A botched handoff under center from C75 Erving to Winston. Winston is fortunate to recover the ball as it’s accidentally kicked forward. Nothing really more needs to be said about this play.
Edit: From reader “hythloday1” on reddit: The context for this play is the offensive line swap that Florida State had to deal with during 2014. They returned four of their offensive line starters in 2014, and dealt with back-to-back injuries to the center position. #75 Cameron Erving moved from left tackle to center and Florida State brought in a raw freshman #77 Roderick Johnson to play left tackle. This resulted in some bad snaps from Erving being rusty while Johnson was too raw at left tackle which kept TE35 O’Leary blcoking much more than receiving than the previous year, which was Winston’s preferred safety valve.
Situation: 2nd and 10 at ORE 12
Description: Q1 – (10:24) Jameis Winston sacked by Torrodney Prevot for a loss of 7 yards to the Oregn 19 Jameis Winston fumbled, forced by Torrodney Prevot, recovered by FlaSt Bobby Hart , return for 0 yards
Plays 1-4 were all his fumbles throughout the season, the next three actually came in the Rose Bowl game versus Oregon.
Winston in shotgun slot right far takes the snap and starts his reads. The Ducks fake five pass rushers, but only bring four pass as the inside linebacker drops into zone coverage defending against the runningback’s angle route. Instantly off of the snap LB86 Prevot speed rushes around RT51 Hart who can’t stick with him as he turns the corner to strip Winston in the pocket.
This strip-sack-fumble comes almost instantly off of the line of scrimmage as RT51 Hart gets beaten badly. Normally a right tackle is able to push a speed rusher out of the way so he can’t corner effectively but Hart extends fully and still can’t get a good push on him. This fumble goes on RT51 Hart.
Situation: 1st and 10 at FSU 47
Description: Q3 – (10:41) Jameis Winston sacked by Tony Washington for a loss of 11 yards to the FlaSt 36 Jameis Winston fumbled, forced by Tony Washington, recovered by FlaSt Jameis Winston , return for 0 yards
Winston from under center takes the snap and takes a 5-step drop. Oregon brings four pass rushers and OLB91 Washington is left unblocked as LT77 Johnson doesn’t pick him up. Winston tries to spin out of the defender’s path, but can’t fully escape and drops the ball in front of him as he goes to the ground for the fumble.
This is a blown blocking assignment as LT77 Johnson doesn’t realize that OLB91 Washington is rushing as he starts his rush outside of TE25 O’Leary and WR3 Wilson. I blame the possibility of the fumble on LT77 Johnson, but also Winston for dropping it himself as he is going to the ground. More on the blown blocking assignment though.
Situation: 4th and 5 at ORE 30
Description: Q3 – (1:53) Jameis Winston run for a loss of 12 yards Jameis Winston fumbled, recovered by Oregn Tony Washington, return for 58 yds for TD (Aidan Schneider PAT blocked)
This is the play that everyone remembers from Winston’s final game this season. It’s 4th down and Winston and the Seminoles are down by 19 with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. He tries to keep the play alive by stepping up in the pocket while reading the field and does a great job of avoiding two tackles. As Winston plants his feet to look downfield again he slips and falls backwards losing the ball behind him untouched. This is returned for a long touchdown by OLB91 Washington. This play can obviously be blamed on Winston as he tries to keep the play alive on 4th down.
Overall, it seemed like Winston’s fumbles were mainly due to poor snaps, a couple of blown blocking assignments, and from staring down his reads for far too long leading him to holding onto the ball too long. As you can see, staring down your wide receiver also leads to fumbles just like it leads to interceptions. The poor snaps and blown blocking assignments should happen less in the NFL, but he needs to understand that in this offense and in the NFL finishing your progressions and getting rid of the ball quickly is paramount to efficient drives. Based on his fumbles this season it seems to me like he doesn’t have the same ball security issues like Mariota does since he was really only at fault for a few of these while Mariota’s ball carry-style makes him susceptible to strips since he doesn’t hold it high and tight, however, Mariota definitely is improving in that regard.