The Tampa Bay Buccaneers most recognizable face is not that of Pro Bowl defensive players Gerald McCoy nor Lavonte David. It is not that stud wide receivers Mike Evans nor Vincent Jackson. It is that of a 22-year old quarterback Jameis Winston who did things at age 21 that no other quarterback in the history of the NFL had ever done.
I am not even talking about the raw totals. You likely already know that Jameis Winston was only the third rookie to throw for over 4,000 yards. Today’s game is so different from just a decade ago, let alone thirty or forty years ago, that we have to look at things comparative to the league they played in and, Jameis Winston’s rookie campaign still holds up as historic.
There have only been four quarterback in NFL history to start 10-or-more games in their age 21 season. As you may have guessed, Jameis Winston is one. The others are Matthew Stafford, Drew Bledsoe, and Fran Tarkenton. Pretty good company.
Jameis Winston is the only one to start 16 games. In fact, he is the only one to start more than 12 games and play the entire season as a starter. Which would explain why he is also the leader in touchdowns, yards, completions, and attempts for any age-21 quarterback. But, he is also the leader in QB Rating, completion percentage, and interception rate (before adjusting to the league-average).
Even if you adjust to the league-average, which you should, the only one with better numbers is Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton, who surpasses Winston in completion percentage, QB Rating, interception rate, and touchdown rate. Winston still has the best yards/attempt.
As you can see, Jameis Winston was far better than both Drew Bledsoe and Matthew Stafford but not quite Fran Tarkenton. Again, the company he’s keeping here is ridiculous.
That was just looking at 21-year-olds. Jameis Winston also became just the 16th quarterback in NFL history to start 16 games as a rookie, joining a list of Hall-of-Famers, future Hall-of-Famers, current studs, and a couple busts. Take a look:
That’s an impressive list. Even more impressive is that 13-of-16 quarterbacks on this list were at least two years older than Jameis Winston.
This doesn’t even take into effect Winston’s 213 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, which are very close ot Fran Tarkenton’s rookie totals of 308 yards and five touchdowns.
Now, this is not to say that the Canton bust is already being carved for Jameis Winston. Famous Jameis still has some room to improve. He did finish last in the NFL in completion percentage (min 12 games) but it’s a helluva way to start your NFL career, being in such good company.
If Jameis Winston continues on this career path, we might have to start comparing him to Fran Tarkenton, the same guy who criticized Jameis Winston’s play in his rookie season. I’m sure one of them would be okay with that. I hope Jameis Winston reads this and gives us one of his patented ear-to-ear smiles.