It appears thus far that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hit on their top pick from last May’s NFL Draft.
Jameis Winston has been named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. The former Florida State quarterback beat out a class that included Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley, who both had sensational rookie seasons in the NFL.
Winston completed 58.3 percent of his passes in his rookie campaign, throwing for over 4,000 yards along with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was the NFL’s Rookie of the Week three times during the NFL season, more than any other rookie in the league.
Winston’s 4,042 yards are the third-most by any rookie in NFL history. Although the game has certainly changed, due to the emergence of a much more pass-dominant league, it’s undoubtedly a great accomplishment when you consider all the quarterbacks who have stepped on the gridiron.
Winston released the following statement on his award:
Bucs QB Jameis Winston has been named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. Here's a statement from Winston: pic.twitter.com/wsHTmtX59c
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) February 6, 2016
Winston has established himself as the team’s franchise quarterback, something the Buccaneers have been searching for for years. The former Heisman Trophy winner helped the Bucs improve from just two wins in 2014, to six in 2015.
Winston had his troubles in the first four games of his NFL journey, throwing five touchdown passes and seven interceptions, giving the Bucs a 1-3 start. However, Winston followed that up by not throwing an interception for four weeks, leading the Bucs to a pair of wins.
His best performance of the season came against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 22. Winston threw five touchdown passes and no interceptions, completing 65 percent of his passes, and throwing for 246 yards in a 45-17 victory.
Winston also showed his versatility in the Pro Bowl, snapping the ball to Travis Frederick to take a knee closing out the game, via The Cauldron:
It’s the Pro Bowl, so Jameis Winston swapped places with center Travis Frederick for a kneeldown pic.twitter.com/pkVibRxYsN
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) February 1, 2016
The Buccaneers will go into the 2016 campaign with a new head coach in Dirk Koetter, who was hired because the organization was afraid of losing him. The Buccaneers’ front office felt Koetter, the team’s offensive coordinator last season, was an integral part in the development of Winston. The Bucs elevated him to head coach after firing Lovie Smith in January.
It will be interesting to see how the change works out for the Buccaneers moving forward, and how it affects Winston. So far, he definitely seems promising, to say the very least. This Rookie of the Year honor is a tangible sign of how bright the future could be for the Bucs.