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WATCH: Here are the 8 Jameis Winston interceptions that defenders dropped

The near misses matter, history tells us.
Officially, Jameis Winston threw 11 interceptions last season, but one analysis found that number should have been closer to 19. [Associated Press]
Officially, Jameis Winston threw 11 interceptions last season, but one analysis found that number should have been closer to 19. [Associated Press]
Published Jun. 4, 2018|Updated Jun. 4, 2018

I published a post last week about Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and how he was one of the luckiest quarterbacks in the NFL last season, at least in terms of interceptions.

My claim was based on a Football Outsiders analysis that found defenders dropped eight potential picks. Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford led the league with nine.

The “adjusted interceptions” statistic also takes into account interceptions that weren’t necessarily bad throws, including passes that receivers tip into defenders’ hands and Hail Marys. It subtracts those passes from a quarterback’s actual interception total. Winston did not have any such interceptions.

So what’s the value of adjusted interceptions as a statistic? All that counts is what happened, right? Isn’t the rest shoulda, coulda, woulda stuff?

If we’re trying to forecast the future — which is what we do this time of year — last season’s box scores don’t tell the whole story and can lead us to make bad predictions. Football can be random, and in a 16-game sample, there’s a lot of statistical noise. For example, just because the Bills finished 9-7 last season doesn’t mean they’ll finish 9-7 this season.

Interceptions are especially difficult to forecast. Football Outsiders has found that actual interception totals aren’t a good predictor of future interceptions. Historically, adjusted interceptions have a higher season-over-season correlation.

As Football Outsiders admits, there is some subjectivity in determining what is a dropped interception. We also don’t know the play calls or whether receivers ran the routes as they were designed. So I went back and watched the eight Winston passes that defenders dropped. My takeaways: There wasn’t very much gray area. They were outright drops, or very close to it.

This doesn’t mean Winston is destined for a miserable season. There are signs the arrow is pointing up for the 24-year-old. His completion percentage and yards per attempt last season were career highs. He led the NFL in percentage of passes that resulted in first downs. By Football Outsiders’ ratings, he has become a more efficient passer each season he has been in the league. As the adjusted interceptions statistic illustrates, however, his primary weakness continues to be high-risk throws.

I’ve included notes on the eight near interceptions, but here are the GIFs so you can watch for yourself.

• • •

Game: Week 2 vs. Bears, Sept. 17

Situation: Third and 5 from the Chicago 5-yard line, 12:33 left in the fourth quarter, Bucs lead 29-0

Target: Chris Godwin

Defender who dropped interception: Kyle Fuller

There’s some contact here between Godwin and Fuller in the end zone. Fuller disrupts Godwin’s route just long enough to get himself in position for a pick.

• • •

Game: Week 4 vs. Giants, Oct. 1

Situation: Third and 8 from the Tampa Bay 22, 6:43 left in the second quarter, Bucs lead 13-3

Target: Mike Evans

Defender who dropped interception: Jay Bromley

[NFL Game Pass]
[NFL Game Pass]

Safety Landon Collins blitzes through the middle, forcing Winston to throw early. Considering how deep the Bucs were in their own territory, an interception could have been a game changer. In these situations, he’s better off taking the sack.

• • •

Game: Week 5 vs. Patriots, Oct. 5

Situation: Third and 9 from the Tampa Bay 26, 2:35 left in the second quarter, Patriots lead 10-7

Target: DeSean Jackson

Defender who dropped interception: Duron Harmon

[NFL Game Pass]
[NFL Game Pass]

Winston has time, but his pass hangs in the air too long.

• • •

Game: Week 5 vs. Patriots, Oct. 5

Situation: Second and 10 from the New England 19, 0:03 left in the fourth quarter, Patriots lead 19-14

Target: O.J. Howard

Defender who dropped interception: Jonathan Jones

[NFL Game Pass]
[NFL Game Pass]

This is one you might excuse. It’s the last play of the game, and Winston’s facing an atypical defensive alignment — eight men in or near the end zone.

• • •

Game: Week 7 vs. Bills, Oct. 22

Situation: First and 10 from the Tampa Bay 44, 12:53 left in the fourth quarter, Bills lead 20-13

Target: Evans

Defender who dropped interception: Micah Hyde

[NFL Game Pass]
[NFL Game Pass]

Winston throws a 50-50 ball to Evans, who breaks up the potential pick.

• • •

Game: Week 13 vs. Packers, Dec. 3

Situation: Third and 7 from the Tampa Bay 45, 9:59 left in the second quarter, Bucs lead 7-3

Target: Evans

Defender who dropped interception: Josh Hawkins

The officials miss some blatant contact here. The defender covering Evans mugs him as he crosses the field. Winston abandons the pocket, and even though Evans is not open, he forces the throw into an extremely tight window. The blown holding call is a bad break, but the pass is still a bad decision.

• • •

Game: Week 14 vs. Lions, Dec. 10

Situation: First and 10 from the Tampa Bay 32, 13:05 left in the third quarter, Lions lead 14-7

Target: Howard

Defender who dropped interception: Darius Slay

[NFL Game Pass]
[NFL Game Pass]

Winston’s under some pressure, but there are too many defenders around Howard to make this attempt worthwhile.

• • •

Game: Week 17 vs. Saints, Dec. 31

Situation: Second and 8 from the New Orleans 20, 11:49 left in the first quarter, score tied 0-0

Target: Charles Sims

Defender who dropped interception: Ken Crawley

[NFL Game Pass]
[NFL Game Pass]

Pressure from defensive end Cam Jordan forces Winston to step up in the pocket. Winston does well to avoid the sack, and maybe even a sack-fumble. As for the pass, Sims isn’t open.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.