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Hartitz: The 2022 Jameis Winston All-Star Team

Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) scrambles in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Watching Jameis Winston play football always brings out a roller coaster of emotions, regardless of whether you're rooting for or against the 28-year-old quarterback.

This is because Winston is essentially the NFL's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One play will showcase the former No. 1 overall pick's rare willingness to sit in the pocket amidst chaos before unleashing and completing a rocket downfield into tight coverage. The next play could very well be an absurd pick-six that even an average Madden user would be ashamed of.

Winston's masterpiece occurred in 2019, when he threw a pick-six on the last play of the season to register the first 30 TD/30 INT season in NFL history. It probably could've been even worse, as he arguably had another 21 interceptions dropped.

And yet, Winston isn't exactly bad. Yes, Winston is 34th in PFF passing grade and dead last in interceptions as well as turnover-worthy plays since entering the league in 2015. Also yes, his career average of 7.7 yards per attempt is tied for 12th among 77 QBs with at least 300 dropbacks during that span, and he’s 15th in passing touchdowns as well as 13th in passing yards during this stretch.

Winston finished the 2019 season as fantasy's fifth-highest-scoring quarterback and was 14th on a per-game basis in 2021 prior to getting injured. Say what you will about the man's 33-44 record and consistent penchant for bone-headed turnovers, but he's as entertaining as any quarterback in the league — for better and for worse.

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Enter the Third-Annual Jameis Winston All-Stars. Today, I’ll pay homage to more players who have made a habit of displaying Winston's extreme boom-or-bust nature. Again, I enjoy watching Winston play football and think the NFL is a better product with him as one of the league's 32 starting QBs.

None of the players that will be listed are bad; they just tend to trade big-time highs with similarly extreme lows.

Note that Winston isn't eligible because he's obviously the perfect Jameis Winston. To be fair, he was surprisingly more consistent than usual with the New Orleans Saints this season — thanks, in large part, to him averaging a career-low 25.2 pass attempts per start even after removing his final injury-induced contest. There are other players who deserve this “honor.”

Without further ado, the 2022 edition of the Jameis Winston All-Stars.


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Quarterback: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

This year certainly didn’t go quite the way that Bears fans were hoping for, but their much-hyped rookie year quarterback did manage to flash some highs between the more obvious lows. Overall, Fields ranked fourth in big-time throw rate (6.1%), trailing only Kyler Murray (8.1%), Aaron Rodgers (6.4%) and Joe Burrow (6.4%).

The film checks out, as Fields has the sort of arm talent to make pretty much any throw on the field if given the opportunity.

As for the other side of the equation, Fields was the league’s 10th-worst quarterback in turnover-worthy play rate (3.7%) among 35 signal-callers with 200-plus dropbacks. He managed to take 36 sacks and fumble 12 times in 12 total appearances — largely due to his tendency to hold the ball for too long (Fields’ 3.06 average time to throw trailed only Jalen Hurts).

It’s not like these negatives fall solely on the back of the 2021 NFL Draft’s 11th overall pick, as the Bears posted the league’s single-worst rate of pass-catchers considered open or wide open this season (38.9%), and PFF’s 22nd-ranked offensive line could’ve helped matters a bit more.

Hopefully, 2022 provides a more consistent Fields, but there was a lot of good to go along with the (more) bad from his rookie campaign. Maybe something like, I don’t know, being the Day 1 starter will help the 22-year-old’s growing confidence.

Running Back: D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

Swift did a lot of good things in 2021. Again, this award is not meant as an insult.

However, most of those good things occurred in one specific capacity: catching the football. And boy was Swift great at it. The second-year back caught 62 of 76 targets for 452 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games, breaking the third-most tackles after receptions of any running back in the league along the way. Swift is tied for eighth in yards per route run among 46 running backs with 50-plus targets over the past two seasons — the man is a problem as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

The problem is that Swift was objectively one of the league’s worst running backs in one-on-one situations on the ground. It’s truly tough to find a metric that paints him as anything other than a below-average ball carrier:

  • PFF rushing grade: 59.7 (No. 50 among 50 running backs with 100-plus carries)
  • Yards per carry: 4.1 (tied for No. 31)
  • Yards after contact per carry: 2.4 (No. 46)
  • Missed tackles forced per carry: 0.11 (No. 45)
  • % of carries with a first down or touchdown: 18.5% (No. 43)

Swift was starting to get hot in Week 10 (33-130-0 rushing) and Week 11 (14-136-1) prior to getting injured in Week 12, but Jared Goff and PFF’s 19th-ranked offensive line in run blocking grade weren’t exactly making things easy for anyone involved in the run game.

Credit to Swift for racking up 1,069 total yards and seven scores in 2021, and the best could very well be yet to come for the 23-year-old talent.

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