TAMPA — No one knows interceptions like Brett Favre. He has thrown more than any other player to wear an NFL uniform. And he’s thrown so many that Jameis Winston would need 13 more 20-interception seasons to surpass Favre’s record 336 career picks.
Winston is on pace to throw 28 interceptions this season. The last player to throw that many is Favre, who threw 29 in 2005 with the Packers.
Favre talked about Winston and his penchant for throwing picks on Siruis XM radio Tuesday, and what he said was pretty interesting.
“I think with Jameis there is such a huge upside,” Favre said. “We don’t get to see it much, but I think there’s such a tremendous upside and you’re willing to try to work through that and I think (Bucs coach) Bruce (Arians) will do a wonderful job. He’s super productive aside from the interceptions.”
Favre continued to say that in an effort to reduce Winston's interceptions, Arians might try to call plays that "are less likely to expose him to an interception." He likened it to the the mentality he had as a player in which he would too often want to go for the deep ball if it was an option, even if it wasn't the best decision.
“With (Favre’s Packers coach) Mike Holmgren, if it was third and 12, for example, and I’m in Year 2, and he calls a play that has a three-layered route, so you have a deep over, maybe 15 to 18 yards, and then you have a medium 7-yard, and then you have a little drag rout underneath, I’m throwing the deep one,” Favre said. "That’s my mentality. My arm strength was a huge asset but it also hurt me. ... That was a play we ran. We called it X-deep-over. And I was throwing it. You called it, I’m throwing it, because I could do it. And it would get me in trouble. Sometimes it would work. So you don’t call that play. Call a play that restricts what gets him in trouble.
“I think Bruce is probably trying to find that but also be productive,” Favre added. “You don’t want to take the ball out of his hands that much. But you want to teach him patience and (let him know) sometimes it’s okay to not get a first down, and that took me a long time to digest. So I think there’s ways to get around it to a certain extent without handcuffing your guy too much.”
Winston is a gunslinger like Favre, but deep balls haven’t really been the root of his interceptions this season. Just eight of his 23 interceptions this season were on passes considered deep balls, according to Pro Football Reference, which defines deep passes as any ball thrown 15 yards or farther.
On Sunday, all three of Winston's interceptions occurred as a result of him trying to connect with a receiver over the middle of the field. They weren't deep passes.
On Winston’s first interception, he threw to Mike Evans while he was surrounded by three Colts defenders, and ended up underthrowing him and linebacker Darius Leonard made a leaping catch. Leonard made an incredible play on the second interception, dropping back into coverage and again leaping in front of Evans for his second pick, though Winston threw the ball slightly over Evans. And Winston’s third interception came with three receivers running deep routes. He threw high to Breshad Perriman and the ball deflected off his hands and to safety Malik Hooker.
“I’m sure Bruce is scratching his head,” Favre added. “He knows Jameis doesn’t mean to do it. He’s not doing it on purpose, so he’s trying to find that happy medium.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard