Film Review Week 14 - Jameis Winston's Clutch Drive

Just a fortnight ago I spoke about how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and more specifically their quarterback – are capable of being ‘both good and bad’, while looking at superstar wide receiver Chris Godwin’s huge first half in Week 12.

The quarterback in question, Jameis Winston, proved me right this week by putting up frankly incredible numbers that were, once again – both good and bad.

By the end of this game, the fifth-year QB had a line of 33/45 for 456 passing yards and four touchdown passes – which is absolutely absurd – as well as a trio of interceptions.

This duality is present on a regular basis, and earlier this season, Winston threw five of his 23 interceptions in one game, and also managed to put up 400 yards. He is so productive, but so turnover-prone, and it is really fun to watch it play out.

This week, the struggles came early, and he started terribly, but when it came down to it, Winston was the one who had to come through for the team, and he clutched it with a game-winning drive that drained much of the fourth-quarter away and resulted in a score for Breshad Perriman, who was essential in this drive, and who stepped up after Mike Evans injured his hamstring on a long TD.

The Buccaneers ended up with a hard-fought victory, defeating the visiting Indianapolis Colts 38-35.

Let’s take a look at the passing plays on the penultimate drive of the game, in which Jameis Winston drove down the field and took the lead with his fourth and final TD throw.

Going into the final drive, Winston had regained most of his confidence from a poor start (a big benefit of having an almost 1:1 ratio of TDs/INTs is that you evidently don’t get as phased by it), and had thrown three scores and three picks so far. The most recent of these interceptions was actually the last play that he was on the field, which makes this drive a pretty impressive bounce back.

There were eight minutes left in the game when they got the ball back, starting on the 35-yard line.

The Bucs started aggressive, with some play action, and Jameis dropped back with a vertical passing concept, as he often does.

The Buccaneers started off with this play action flood concept to the field side, on Winston’s right. The running back gives a half-arsed fake toward the ball, and then runs a flat route, which undercuts a corner route and go route down the sideline to complete the flood combination. The corner route is run after a motion that moves Perriman across the formation from the left slot to the right, and he gives a nod inside at the top to assure as much separation as possible against the single-high safety.

The way that the Colts play this rep is vey interesting. When Perriman motions across, the defender who is nearest him crosses and follows him – a blatant signifier of man coverage – but then they drop out into a Cover 3 zone. This didn’t hugely impact the reads from the perspective of the quarterback, because as soon as the receivers released it was evident that it was zone.2

In the Cover 3, with curl-flat zones carrying back toward deeper routes, Winston did have to make sure he didn’t lead too far outside on the corner route, but he was able to put the ball on Perriman’s numbers for a nice gain to start the drive.

On the next play, after the great start, they went to the pass again. This time though it was a standard dropback from shotgun and he dumped it off quickly to his running back Ronald Jones in space, as he leaked out into the flats.

This time the defense was in a Cover 2, but with the cornerbacks carrying deeper than in a conventional flat zone, leaving Jones wide open for a comfortable gain, punctuated by his attempt to hurdle for further yardage.

On 2nd and 4 they rushed the ball for the first time, and got a first down easily, however on the following play they had far less success with another inside run.

Returning to the pass, Jameis had his eyes downfield once again, but he settled for a productive checkdown once again which got them down to a 3rd and 1. Jameis was disciplined on this drive in taking a couple of underneath throws when they were the best option and this play is a good example.

Unfortunately for Winston, for the second time in a row, the short-yardage run was stuffed, and they found themselves on 4th and 1.

This was one of the key passes that won’t make a highlight reel but that was essential to Tampa Bay winning this game.

Tampa came out in a trips formation with a tight end in a three-point opposite, who released vertically. Directly behind this release, the halfback, receiving specialist Dare Ogunbowale runs a quick route that is a flattened version of the angle route, breaking inside and catching the ball for a first down. This play simply used the TE to create space and attacked the area he vacated.

After this key conversion, with a fresh set of downs, the Buccaneers found themselves on the 12-yard line, and they went straight back to what was working, another pass. They only needed one.

Jameis took the snap and knew exactly where he was going with the ball. He fired a back-shoulder bullet, and found Breshad Perriman for the second time of the drive – this time for a game-winning touchdown.

The field side receivers are in a slot stack, and they run a dig-bench (in-out) concept, that will put the strain on a two-high look or man coverage, depending how well the defenders play the routes. The running back also runs a flat route underneath to that side, to pull down any possible extra defender who might get in the way of the out route.

To the boundary side, on Winston’s left, is a slow-start slant route, and then a direct route to the corner of the end zone, which Perriman ran by just attacking the outside shoulder of the defender.

The Colts defense was in a Cover 1 man, and so once he has the defender who is trying to cover Perriman turn his hips and chase, Winston knows for a fact that he won’t be able to stop the ball. The obvious reason that a defensive back always likes to keep an eye on the QB is so that not only can they make a play on the ball, but the quarterback will see that they are looking at him.

Perriman beat his man, and then when he turned towards the ball, the low and outside pass was perfectly placed for him to adjust and catch the ball away from the DB, who couldn’t turn to react to the ball in time, because he was facing the wrong way as he tried to keep up with the aggressive route.

Touchdown.

As you can see from the second angle, Winston puts the ball perfectly to a spot that nobody but Perriman could reach it. 

As much as Jameis Winston is one of the most unpredictable, inconsistent and turnover-prone quarterbacks in the NFL, there is no doubt that he’s capable of doing plenty of positive things. This drive was a brilliant example of how good he can be.

The run game wasn’t working, and he stepped up.

The drive spanned over eight plays, five of which were passes, 63 yards, just under four and a half minutes. The Colts couldn’t retaliate, and the Buccaneers went to 6-7.

Jameis did what Jameis does best, turned it over multiple times, but still did enough in terms of production and got it done when the game was on the line.

Tyler Arthur

NFL Film and Prospect Analyst

A graduated Journalism student, Tyler also writes for Read American Football and Gridiron Hub. He played Wide Receiver and eventually Quarterback for his university team at DMU, and is now using his knowledge and passion for learning to dive deeper into the analysis of X’s and O’s in the NFL. 

5/5

Image credit: Bucs Wire USA Today