TAMPA ― There’s hope that Jameis Winston won’t throw 30 interceptions if the Bucs and Bruce Arians decide to bring back their turnover-prone quarterback in 2020.
That’s according to Carson Palmer, who played the position under Arians and struggled in his first season, throwing 22 interceptions for the Cardinals in 2013.
Appearing on the Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday, Palmer said that having a year of mistakes and experience in the system will be a huge help to Winston and his receivers. He also demonstrated the difficulty of operating such a voluminous offense that forces the quarterback to make throws downfield into tight windows.
“I believe he’ll have a big jump," Palmer said. "If he’s back in Tampa with Bruce, I really believe he’ll come back. Mentally, it’s such a difficult offense. It is not easy. There are tons of formations. Tons of shifts. Every play can change at the line of scrimmage, protection-wise. There’s so many different concepts.
"We would go into game plans, and I know Tampa went into game plans with the possibility of having 300 to 400 plays come off the play sheet. So it’s not a simple offense. You know, you watch Baltimore play and you watch some of these teams that are just dynamic on offense and they’re putting in each game plan probably half the amount of plays that Bruce carries, so it’s not a simple offense to pick up and start off Year 1 and go out and have a Pro Bowl year.
"It takes years. It takes years for the quarterback and it takes years for the guys outside because there’s multiple opportunities where receivers have the opportunity to run one of two routes and they don’t make that decision and make that cut until they get to the top of the route. And that’s just something, you need time, you need experience within that system and that’s something you don’t have.
“You don’t have that experience in Year 1. You need Year 1 to go back and watch the film and see yourself doing it wrong and the receivers seeing themselves doing it wrong and then Year 2, really things start to click. That chemistry starts to develop and that trust and that confidence in the offense starts to develop. If Jameis is back in Tampa, I would expect Year 2 to be a massive year for him.”
Palmer said Arians’ insistence to make big chunk plays in the passing game is really to blame for the amount of turnovers. But that just comes with the territory.
“I just think deep down inside, Bruce knows it’s so hard in today’s day and age to put together 85-yard drives that are 15 plays, 16-, 17-, 18-play drives," Palmer said. "It’s just hard to do. Defenses are so good. He likes those three- or four-play drives with the 60-yard touchdown pass. He’s famous for saying, ‘no risk it, no biscuit.’ But he wants his quarterbacks to play with that mentality.
"And look back at some of Jameis’ picks, he hit some receivers dead in the hands or in the chest and it bounced off their hands and went to a defender. So they’re not all on him. Not all 30 are all on him, and very rarely are all the picks on the quarterback. But when you drop back and throw it 40 times a game and you really focus on the passing game, don’t run the ball as much as most quarterbacks would like to, picks are going to happen. You’ve got to take those chances. Especially if you’re not real good on defense like Tampa Bay was and they knew there were going to get some points scored on them.
“They had to take those shots. Jameis had to take some opportunities to throw some balls in some tight windows and unfortunately, more often than not, those balls seemed to get picked by him. But that’s just the mentality that Bruce plays with. He’s not going to run the ball 35 times a game and try to win a game 17-13. He’s going to go out there and try to throw the ball and jam the ball down the field and throw the ball over your head and try to score 40 points every week.”
Over his second and third seasons with the Cardinals, Palmer threw 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while leading his team to the playoffs.
Arians has been known to be pretty critical of Winston throughout the season. But Palmer says that comes with the territory.
“That’s nothing. What he said to the open media is nothing compared to what he probably said to Jameis and what he said to me over the years," Palmer said. "I mean, the guy with the beep button would be holding that thing down for the duration of the conversation probably. So, yeah, thick skin is something every quarterback needs to have. Extra thick skin is something every Bruce Arians’ quarterback needs to have because the stuff he says to media is rated G compared to the stuff he says to your face on the sideline and after the game in the locker room and throughout the week.
"But he knows how important each quarterback’s thick skin is. He knows the importance of being able to move past a really bad throw or really bad decision and being able to make a great decision the next one. It starts in (organized team activities) and goes through training camp and obviously throughout the season. That’s how he coaches and that’s how he tries to get the best out of his players. He’s not high-fiving and hugging and blowing smoke. He’s real and he’s authentic and he gets after you and he puts you in tough situations on purpose. Maybe if you need little thicker skin, he puts you in situations where you can grow that thicker skin.
“So I hope Jameis gets another shot with him because I think we’ll see a much better year in Year 2.”