Besides Winston’s confidence and quick decision making, his anticipation is something that he excels at. It’s clear that Winston trusts his receivers to make a play and Winston typically releases the ball just as they wide receiver starts to break on his route. A very good sign for the pros as windows are so much smaller.
Going through progressions and reads is one of the most important traits in determining how pro ready a quarterback is when entering the NFL. Many quarterbacks coming out of college come from specially designed systems to take advantage of the talent disparity between top notch programs and lower programs. While this works in the NCAA ranks, the talent disparity between the best teams and worst teams in the NFL is much less, so teams have to adjust their play-style to become an efficient offense.
Throughout his college career, Jameis Winston displayed a great ability at progressing through his reads and a natural ability to find an open receiver the vast majority of the time. For a college player with only two years of full-time experience, it was refreshing to see a variety of concepts that Florida State implemented in their west coast offense mostly from the shotgun formation. Winston also did take snaps from under center, albeit a much smaller percentage of the time in his two years starting.
Here are some good plays showing Winston going through his reads and finding the appropriate wide receiver including the checkdown when his main reads are covered.
This play here illustrates a pro-style concept called “Levels” (http://nflbreakdowns.com/beginner-series-vertical-passing/) where Winston understands to be patient with the ball and watch the hitch draw the linebacker out of the throwing lane to pass to the wide receiver running across the middle underneath the safeties.
Now for some bad plays. There were definitely times when Winston stared too long at his intended targets causing interceptions or forced throws (as seen in my “Jameis Winston’s 18 Interceptions in 2014” article), but proportionally those times were fewer. Here are a couple of almost interceptions that could have been included in the 18 Interceptions article to display the same “theme” of staring down the read and forcing the pass:
In this play, Winston stares down TE35 O’Leary instead of progressing to an open dig route over the middle.
And in this play, Winston is almost intercepted by an underneath linebacker on a slant route over the middle.
After watching Winston’s film it makes me believe that these issues, to an extent, can be fixed with more practice. Winston only has two years in a pro-style offense. I say “to an extent” because Winston’s confidence and personality make me believe that he will still try to do too much with the football and force a throw trusting his arm over his natural football intelligence. This leads me to…
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