Jameis Winston has been the most turnover-prone quarterback in the NFL in his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No player has more three-interception, four-interception, or two-fumble games than Winston since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2015.
The 37-26 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 was his first ever five-interception game.
Both his first and last passes of the game were picked off by Carolina defenders. Winston added two fumbles as well, although one was recovered by a Buccaneers offensive lineman.
Winston’s six turnovers, combined with one more on a muffed punt by Bobo Wilson, made the Buccaneers the first team since 2016 to turn the ball over seven times in a game.
It’s a pattern of mistakes that will likely cost Winston — whose contract expires in March — his job in Tampa Bay after the season. But the London loss wasn’t all his fault. He was sacked seven times and his receivers had some drops — including one by Mike Evans that would’ve been a huge play before halftime.
Let’s rank the five interceptions by Winston from most understandable to the most inexcusable:
5. Winston’s arm was hit by Bruce Irvin
Some of the sacks allowed by the Buccaneers on Sunday were a consequence of Winston holding the ball too long. That’s not the case here, though. Panthers pass rusher Bruce Irvin ran right by right tackle Josh Wells and hit Winston’s arm as he threw. The ball fluttered and fell right into the arms of Panthers defensive back Javien Elliott.
Beastly moves by Javien Elliott! pic.twitter.com/93rqafp7I4— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 13, 2019
When an offensive tackle gets torched that bad, it’ll almost always create a negative play. That interception really isn’t on Winston.
It set up the Panthers for a touchdown four plays later that gave them their first double-digit lead of the day. The Buccaneers never cut it to single digits after that.
4. Winston threw into a prevent defense out of desperation
The Buccaneers were down 11 with less than 30 seconds left in the game when Winston threw his fifth and final interception. In a different situation, he should’ve taken advantage of the huge amount of space in the middle of the field. But Tampa Bay’s only chance at a miracle win was to score fast.
So throwing into the hornet’s nest of Panthers defenders in the end zone actually made some sense.
And that’s a wrap. INT #5 for Jameis Winston. pic.twitter.com/5PFkXgA5pV— Dirty Sports (@TheDirtySports) October 13, 2019
Receiver Mike Evans doesn’t do much to turn his head and locate the ball, but it’s hard to blame dog him or Winston too hard for that one.
3. Throwing into traffic on the first play was ill-advised
The camera angle behind the line of scrimmage shows what Winston was looking at on the first play of the game. Evans briefly broke open for a short pass, but Winston had to throw a little more left than usual with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly looming.
That opened a window for cornerback James Bradberry to drive on the ball and beat Evans to the spot.
First play of the match and @Brad_B21 picks off Winston! pic.twitter.com/jduVsHEFKn— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 13, 2019
If the ball came out a little sooner, Bradberry wouldn’t have had time to get there. If Evans came back to the ball, he probably shields off the cornerback. But that’s the danger with firing into a tight window: A lot can go wrong.
Tampa Bay’s defense did well to hold the Panthers to a field goal after the mistake. It put the team in a hole right away, though.
2. Luke Kuechly was gifted the easiest interception
On first glance, this throw directly to Kuechly looks so laughably bad that it has to be the worst one of the day.
LUKE FREAKING KUECHLY!!! pic.twitter.com/9vVub5mPIQ— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 13, 2019
A closer look shows safety Eric Reid hit Winston just as he was throwing, likely causing the errant throw. It’s the kind of contact you’d hope a quarterback could take and still deliver an accurate pass. At the very least, you’d expect him to put in the same area code.
The Panthers scored on the next play and buried the Buccaneers with a 20-point deficit.
1. Ross Cockrell read Winston like a book
On a fourth down late in the game, the Buccaneers need 10 yards to keep a drive alive. Cockrell assumed Winston would try to get those yards by throwing a quick out route to the sideline. He was right.
Ross Cockrell called game @RossCockrell31 pic.twitter.com/6uMZ3Bv3BN— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 13, 2019
That’s the type of mistake that a rookie would make, but Winston still makes it in his fifth NFL season. In 62 games, he’s now thrown 68 career interceptions and he’s fumbled 43 times.
It’s looking increasingly clear that his issues aren’t going to be corrected. With Winston set to hit free agency in March, that will likely mean a new quarterback starting for the Buccaneers in 2020.