2019 NFL Predictions: Is a Jameis Winston breakout coming? Bucs QB is hardest player to figure out

There are few NFL players as polarizing as Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers quarterback is heading into a contract season, entering his fifth-year option with no certainties for his future with the organization, despite Tampa Bay essentially having tripled down on Winston with the hiring of Bruce Arians out of retirement to be the team’s latest in a long line of head coaches. 

Winston is polarizing for a variety of reasons, but in terms of on-field actions, it’s his flagrant disregard for ball security that drives people crazy. And yet, because Arians is involved, there is now a belief that Winston’s skillset can be harnessed and channeled and the former Heisman Trophy winner can put together a massive season. 

Opinions on this are all over the place. Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson appeared on Wednesday’s Pick Six Podcast — who you can hear in the player below; plus make sure to subscribe here and get our daily podcast delivered each and every morning — and he believes the presence of Arians will allow Winston to take a big jump forward in 2019. 

“It’s actually Bruce Arians that makes us kind of high on the Bucs. That combination of Bruce Arians and Jameis Winston, it just has the potential to be a perfect match,” Monson said. “That doesn’t mean it will — and Jameis Winston, if we’ve seen one thing from him so far in his career, it’s definitely that he has the potential to take any situation and make it a mess.

“So I’m not saying it’s a sure thing. But Bruce Arians has this track record of getting incredible career years out of quarterbacks that were a little bit like Jameis Winston. And by that I mean sort of volatile players who were well capable of making big plays regularly but also had a ton of turnover worthy plays, a ton of bad plays to go with the good. Whether it’s Ben Roethlisberger, whether it’s Carson Palmer in Arizona.”

There are plenty of people who are skeptical of Jameis’ ability to control his turnovers and to become the efficient quarterback people thought he might eventually become. He’s also still really young. And the talent plus age plus coaching have people expecting big things.

Jameis has become something of a fantasy darling over the last few years and he’s listed again on Heath Cummings breakout list from late in July. Here’s the full explanation from Heath as to why he expects big things from Jameis: 

I promise, this is the last year I’m going to talk about games Winston started and finished. Hopefully it’s the last year I have to. But in 2017 he averaged 306 yards per game he started and finished. Last year he started nine games and averaged 294 yards per game. There’s every reason to expect if he plays 16 games he’ll be among the league leaders in passing yards. He has a very talented set of pass-catchers and his defense is absolutely atrocious, which should keep him passing. The way this really pays off is if Winston quickly acclimates to the system of Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich. If he does, and he stays healthy, Winston could be one of the top quarterbacks in Fantasy this season.

Note that being a top fantasy QB doesn’t always equate to being a top overall QB. But there are people who believe Jameis could blossom on the field as a whole this year. See: Monson above. Additionally, Kurt Warner, Hall of Fame quarterback and NFL analyst, is expecting Winston to take a leap forward.

There’s been a some heat this preseason about Winston checking the ball down more and becoming a smarter and more efficient quarterback. That doesn’t sound like Winston, but, sure, why not??

Preseason and training camp action has sparked some additional Winston buzz. This throw to Chris Godwin, a developing second option at wideout with Mike Evans and a big time fantasy prospect himself, over star corner Xavien Howard drew rave reviews. 

It was also a great catch, although it wasn’t the only touchdown to Godwin during this practice. 

Jameis has also been out on the field doing Jameis things during the action.

But it also feels like we’ve been seeing a bunch of “Jameis gets picked” tweets at various times during training camp too.

Minkah Fitzpatrick gets an INT off Jameis Winston to end a two-minute drill. He had a little bit of struggles early in practice but nice bounce-back there.

— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) August 14, 2019

Which shouldn’t be shocking because not everyone agrees that Jameis is going to magically change who he is as a quarterback. Andy Benoit of The MMQB, who was also on the show earlier this week, is down on Winston’s prospects despite the addition of Arians

Benoit believes even in Arians system, there’s a lack of accuracy down the field for Winston that will cause issues for the quarterback when he tries to throw too many jump balls instead of simply putting 45-yard drops in a bucket. 

Winston is either going to stagnate and end up becoming a major quandary for the Bucs this offseason. Or he’s going to take a huge step forward and become deserving of a big contract. A step BACK would make life easy for whoever’s in charge in Tampa at the start of the next league year. 

There’s no right answer, at least not at this moment. It’s part of what makes prediction season fun. 

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