Jared Goff and Jameis Winston are similar in ways that are interesting but may not matter that much. There are also ways in which they are different that are integral to why Goff remains a franchise quarterback while Winston became a franchise quarterbackup. But then there are also ways in which they — and even Tom Brady — are similar that perhaps we should take more time to consider.
That’s all I’m saying. Consider it!
Yes, Goff and Winston were first overall picks one year apart, played with really talented receivers, and met Jon Gruden probably. But they shared plenty of similarities as quarterbacks in 2019 and then in other areas were like two stars circling each other or something like that from an episode of Cosmos I watched once. You’ll see.
Goff and Winston were both tied for the league lead in pass attempts and their respective completion percentages were only separated by 14 completions. Or seven if Goff goes down and Winston goes up. (Math was also something I learned watching Cosmos.)
They were also separated by “not much” in passer rating which is not a good stat but does indicate that there were likely some similarities between the quarterbacks who had similar scores. But passer rating is a balancing act and that’s where these two draft stars began circling each other and becoming a supernova or something.
Highest % of Pass Attempts that resulted in 20+ Gains, 2019:— Dustin Baker (@DustBaker) June 17, 2020
(min. 10 starts)
1. Ryan Tannehill = 14.3%
2. Jimmy Garoppolo = 12.8%
3. Jameis Winston = 11.9%
4. Kirk Cousins = 11.7%
5. Jared Goff = 11.5%
6. Dak Prescott = 11.4%
7. Baker Mayfield = 10.6%
8. Russell Wilson = 10.6%
YARDS-YARDS PER ATTEMPT-NET YARDS PER ATTEMPT
Winston threw for a lot more yards than Goff and led the league in that stat, which of course resulted in a higher Y/A. He also had 11 more touchdown passes than Goff and considerably ahead of him in QBR. By these measures it might seem that Winston is headed towards having a better season than Goff but he couldn’t find a starting gig for a reason.
And need we be reminded that Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles are in a quarterback competition to start for a pretty good team? Yet Winston is now backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Not only did Winston throw nine more interceptions than any other player last season, he also threw a league-leading 13 dropped interceptions. All told, FootballOutsiders had his adjusted interception rate at 40(!) — 14 more than second place, which is a tie between Kyle Allen and Philip Rivers. And even Allen has a legitimate chance to start next season.
Goff had six dropped interceptions, which was fairly average, and though he’d definitely like to have seen that number be way lower he also wasn’t near as bad as Winston. That’s why even though Goff is ranked lower in QBR, he’s well behind in DYAR and DVOA.
Of course, where Winston had to go, somebody else had to arrive. And that somebody was Tom Brady, who also posted fairly similar numbers (in some respects) to these two quarterbacks.
ATT-COMP: 373-616-60.8 (HMM, ALMOST A PHONE NUMBER)
PASSER RATING: 88.0
Brady was fourth in attempts last season and posted nearly an identical completion percentage to Winston. His passer rating was right around these two and his adjusted interceptions went up to 14 as he had seven dropped interceptions. His interception rate was still much better than Winston and Goff but Brady was tied for 27th in yards per attempt with Andy Dalton and Daniel Jones. The Patriots weren’t pushing the field down much at all in the passing game, at least not in large chunks.
Number of games with 20+ pass attempts and less than 60% completions in 2019:— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) June 22, 2020
9 - Dalton
8 - Brady, Mayfield, Minshew
7 - Goff, Winston
6 - J. Allen, Fitzpatrick, Trubisky, Wentz
5 - Brissett, D. Jones, Mahomes, M. Ryan
He will now be replacing a quarterback who threw nearly the same number of attempts last season as Brady but had 1,000 more yards. What will that look like with a quarterback who has rarely gone over 8 yards per attempt over his career but did have an interception rate that was less than a third of the rate of Winston?
Of course, one area that Brady did not have an advantage in last season was personnel. Julian Edelman is not quite the candidate for 150 targets that either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin are and now Brady has both plus Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate.
And another reason to wonder how Winston found 40 opportunities to complete a pass to the wrong team. Now is a good time to bring up that Winston was tied for fifth in interceptions even though he was only 26th in pass attempts. The Bucs did everything possible to keep him from leading the league in picks and yet he was only two away from doing that with only nine starts.
Top 5 Passing Attempts:— Christian Arcand (@ChristianArcand) December 3, 2019
1) Tom Brady (486)
2) Jameis Winston (467)
3) Jared Goff (453)
4) Matt Ryan (447)
5) Dak Prescott (447)
Bottom 5 Completion %:
33) Baker Mayfield (60)
32) Jameis Winston (60.2)
31) Andy Dalton (60.3)
30) Gardner Minshew (61.1)
29) Tom Brady (61.1)
Jared Goff, Tom Brady, and Jameis Winston all threw the same or near same number of attempts last season and they finished with similar passer ratings. However, what separates Winston from being a good-to-great quarterback and being what he ultimately has proven to be is simply one huge flaw. That’s all it takes sometimes.
Luckily for Goff, his interception rate from 2019 is more likely to go down, not up.
(Winston’s would also most likely go down if he were starting because he’ll never repeat 4.8% again and keep a job for more than a couple games.)
Brady posted an interception rate of 1.3% last season and his average over the last three years has been 1.5%. Goff was at a 1.5% interception rate in 2017 and then it went up to 2.1% in 2018. But the whole reason for that jump came in a single game against the Bears when Goff had four interceptions. Though he did have nine dropped interceptions in 2018, Goff’s interception rate actually went down in 2017 when you accounted for dropped picks and picks that weren’t his fault.
I would expect Goff to threw fewer picks per pass attempt next season and if the Rams are playing as well as they hope to be, his total attempts will go down and the touchdowns will shoot up. Another area where Goff and Brady were similar but Winston was an outlier was sacks. Goff took a career-low 22 sacks, Brady was right around his career average at 27 sacks, but Winston took 47 — which is 17 more than his career average.
I think given another chance, especially if it comes in New Orleans, Winston could be an adequate-to-good starter simply by regression and a couple tweaks.
Goff quite obviously has a chance to rebound while Winston potentially waits another year or more for his next opportunity and Brady tries to prove that not only can he play at 46 (he’s turning 43 but my gut instinct said “46” and I’ll believe that’s his true age now) but that his poor efficiency numbers were because of personnel issues.
Three quarterbacks who are not that similar and not that different.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”― Carl Sagan, Cosmos