Jameis Winston is back, folks. After four straight games of relatively competent quarterbacking, Winston displayed a strong return to form in London against the Panthers on Sunday. He finished the game completing 30 of his 54 throws and 400 yards, but with five interceptions and a fumble.
This abysmal day should be concerning beyond the fact that he doubled his pick total for the season. During that aforementioned four-week stretch, one of the biggest indicators of his growth as a passer was how he seemed to kick the habit of throwing passes that looked like they were intended for defenders. Once the Panthers had made him cough up the ball three times already—two picks and a fumble which weren’t really his fault since his line can’t block for shit—that tendency came back with a vengeance.
Sure, part of that was a result of Luke Kuechly following Winston’s eyes for the entirety of the play and being smart enough to know which route to jump, but you’d think one of the best middle linebackers in the league playing for the opposing defense would probably be on the scouting report.
The pinnacle of this week’s Winston experience happened in garbage time, when the Bucs were still diligently playing with full effort despite being down multiple scores. Tampa Bay had gotten the ball back down 11 with with less than three minutes left in the game. Facing a fourth-and-10 after stalling on his team’s 45-yard line, Winston decided to throw to a part of the field where his target was essentially double-covered and got picked off.
That should have been the end of things, but Joey Slye hooked a 41-yard kick wide right and gave the Bucs possession back with over a minute left.
Surely this time Winston would learn from the mistake he made just a couple minutes earlier, right? Almost! Winston actually moved the ball all the way to the edge of the red zone before callously tossing it right into the hands of a defender once again.
You really have to applaud Winston for his commitment to sucking this hard at his job, especially when you consider that his traditional competition in the turnover race, Blake Bortles, has been relegated to the bench full-time. It’s that kind of dedication to his craft that truly separates him from the rest.