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.

Jameis Winston Historic Rookie Season

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:

Query Results Table
Games Passing Advanced Passing
Player Age GS Cmp% Yds TD Int TD% Int% Rate Y/A AY/A Y/G Cmp%+ Y/A+ TD%+ Int%+ Rate+ Sack%+ AY/A+
Peyton Manning 22 16 56.70 3739 26 28 4.50 4.87 71.2 6.50 5.22 233.7 100 95 105 77 92 120 90
Russell Wilson 24 16 64.12 3118 26 10 6.60 2.54 100.0 7.93 8.11 194.9 112 116 125 104 118 89 117
Andrew Luck 23 16 54.07 4374 23 18 3.70 2.87 76.5 6.98 6.42 273.4 76 97 93 98 89 102 96
Jim Kelly* 26 16 59.38 3593 22 17 4.60 3.54 83.3 7.49 6.81 224.6 116 111 104 107 112 98 111
Jameis Winston 21 16 58.32 4042 22 15 4.10 2.80 84.2 7.56 7.12 252.6 81 108 95 93 92 111 101
Derek Carr 23 16 58.10 3270 21 12 3.50 2.00 76.6 5.46 5.26 204.4 83 59 89 109 84 119 77
Cam Newton 22 16 59.96 4051 21 17 4.10 3.29 84.5 7.84 7.17 253.2 98 115 97 92 100 99 106
Andy Dalton 24 16 58.14 3398 20 13 3.90 2.52 80.4 6.59 6.23 212.4 91 90 95 105 94 114 94
Sam Bradford 23 16 60.00 3512 18 15 3.10 2.54 76.5 5.95 5.42 219.5 98 81 86 106 92 106 87
Matt Ryan 23 16 61.06 3440 16 11 3.70 2.53 87.7 7.93 7.52 215.0 100 119 96 107 106 116 114
Joe
Flacco
23 16 60.05 2971 14 12 3.30 2.80 80.3 6.94 6.33 185.7 97 100 91 103 97 93 99
Rick Mirer 23 16 56.38 2833 12 17 2.50 3.50 67.0 5.83 4.75 177.1 95 82 83 98 87 87 83
Warren Moon* 28 16 57.56 3338 12 14 2.70 3.11 76.9 7.42 6.55 208.6 105 106 83 114 102 93 106
Geno Smith 23 16 55.76 3046 12 21 2.70 4.74 66.5 6.88 5.28 190.4 78 94 81 63 73 80 79
Ryan Tannehill 24 16 58.26 3294 12 13 2.50 2.69 76.1 6.81 6.09 205.9 91 93 80 101 89 97 92
David Carr 23 16 52.48 2592 9 15 2.00 3.38 62.8 5.84 4.72 162.0 76 81 72 97 75 44 79
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2016.

 

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.

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