There are a bunch of legitimate contenders for the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award this season. Cases can be made for many different players. Amari Cooper had 72 catches for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders. The knock against him is he tied for second in the NFL in dropped passes. Todd Gurley rushed for 1,106 yards to go with 10 touchdowns, but he missed 3 games this season (with those extra three games he might have ran away with the award, no pun intended). These two players, along with Jamesis Winston, should indubitably be the top three candidates to win the award. The topic is definitely debatable, but this award belongs to Jamesis Winston.
Before even talking stats, let’s take a look at the intangibles. He took a 2-14 franchise that had little leadership and little hope, and turned them around. Making a 4 game jump is a success even if the season itself wasn’t. He gained the respect of his team mates who were singing his praises from the early stages of the season, as he not only embraced the leadership role, he welcomed it. The fans have been exposed to something they haven’t had in a long time through Winston’s attitude, leadership, and skill; hope. The future is looking good for the Buccaneers, and Jamesis is the biggest reason why. All after one season.
Many people would like to argue that Todd Gurley should win the award. Not taking anything away from Gurley, who did have a phenomenal rookie season, but what Jamesis was able to do this year was downright special. Impressively, Gurley finished 3rd in the league in yards, but Jamesis finished 3rd in the league in NFL history for passing yards by a rookie quarterback. Winston’s 2015 campaign was the best rookie performance by a quarterback in Bucs franchise history. Winston finished the season for the Bucs 2nd all time franchise passing yards in a season and 4th in touchdowns.
If you are a fan, take a second, and think about how you felt after the conclusion of last season looking forward. Now take a second to reflect how you feel going ahead now. Even though the Bucs finished with a 6-10 record it feels good, doesn’t it? Completely changed the morale of the fan base, provided leadership, and set rookie records doing so along the way, Winston has my vote.
By: Ed Greene
To say that Jameis Winston had a decent rookie year would be an understatement. Granted, things got off to a slow start for him and the Buccaneers, put as the season pressed on, the young quarterback showed moxy in tight game situations. We all know how the season went; there was some promise, and upset or two, and a collapse to end the year. Factor that with the questionable release of (former) head coach Lovie Smith, if you weren’t watching, you’d suspect that Winston’s rookie campaign was a bust. Despite the team’s 6-10 record, what little success they could muster came at the hands of “Famous Jameis”.
Let’s take a look at Winston’s stats for the year. He was 312 for 535 attempts, 4042 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Oh, and his passer rating was, wait for it, 84.2. The guy didn’t do too badly on the ground either, rushing 54 times for 213 yards and 6 TD’s. But what I want to zero in on is the 4042 yards passing, which if anything would put Winston as the lead dog as the Rookie of the Year. He’s only the third quarterback in NFL history to surpass the 4,000 yard mark in their first year, the first being Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Not bad company, especially in Cam’s case.
Despite the numbers and his abilities on the field, there are a couple of things that I fear may keep Jameis from the Rookie of the Year honor. First, I believe his past indiscretions while at Florida State still casts a shadow over him, especially in light of the recent development involving his accuser of sexual abuse and a settlement (I’ll skip the details). I’ve said time and time again how he’s been a stand-up citizen from the moment he arrived in Tampa, but the jury is still out in the court of public opinion. Hell, Michael Vick still has vitriol spewed his way over the dog fighting scandal, and it’s been years since his release from prison. I’m sure the league looks at this with the frame of mind of how female fans would react (see Ray Rice). Of course I could be wrong.
Then there’s this guy named Todd Gurley that came out of Georgia. You might’ve heard of him, rookie running back for the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams. This guy has been nothing short of sensational from the moment he took over the starting job in week 4. Let’s see, 229 attempts for 1106 yards and 10 TD’s, plus 188 yards receiving. Gurley has been quite the human highlight reel, and the Rams haven’t a back this good since they had Marshall Faulk. A case could be made for receiver Amari Cooper in Oakland, but as good as he is, he’s no Randy Moss.
I won’t discount Jameis Winston’s chances at getting the nod for the award, but considering what might be working against him, his chances aren’t super. Granted, he’s a close second, and in truth, I feel he’s done more for his team as far as leadership. But still, Gurley has been great, and to my knowledge didn’t bring in the type of baggage that Winston did. I’m rooting for him, but right now, the favorite for Rookie of the Year is looking to be Todd Gurley.
Photo credits: Jamesis Winston: NFL.com , Todd Gurley: Billy Hurst/Associated Press
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