The Youngest Stud

July 17th, 2017


Even if Tom Brady won’t admit it, quarterbacks don’t last forever.

These guys aren’t lifetime cases like Supreme Court justices. There’s an expiration date on every pro athlete, and the men under center are no exception.

Sometime in the not too distant future, a changing of the guard will take place in the NFL and youth will be served.

The remarkable Mr. Brady is 39. Mr. Brees is 38. Big Ben and Philip Rivers are 35.

Aaron Rodgers is 33, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan are 32.

You get the picture. Heck, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are already 28, one year younger than Matt Stafford and one year older than Andrew Luck.

The next wave is building momentum, and Jameis Winston is enjoying the view near the top of the crest.

“He’s a dog,” Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley says about Winston. “He’s gonna fight to the end.”

Looking at the Fantastic Four — Winston, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott and Marcus Mariota — Tampa Bay’s stud is the youngest. Winston won’t turn 24 until January, and he has already put big numbers up through two pro seasons.

When training camp begins next week, Winston will have even more confidence because of a better supporting cast.

“I would say Jameis is different in that he knows he can play in the NFL,” Dirk Koetter says. “He knows he can be a successful player. No one has higher expectations for his performance than he does. I mean, he’s aiming to be elite, not just one of 32. And because he has such high expectations, and we have high expectations, it’s a never-ending process. We’re hard on Jameis and he’s hard on himself. Always improving, but not where it needs to be.”

This quartet of young dynamic quarterbacks has the look of a special group.

Best Fit

Mariota, who turns 24 in October, was enjoying a stellar second season for the Titans until suffering a fractured fibula in December. Prescott guided Dallas to a 13-3 record and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year  Carr was recently ranked No. 11 on the list of the NFL’s top 100 players, 46 spots ahead of Winston.

“The rush doesn’t affect him,” Gerald McCoy says about Carr. “He’s very calm, cool and collected and he gets the ball out very fast. He put up big numbers against us … way too many numbers against us.”

Carr and Prescott each torched the Bucs last season, with Carr setting a Raiders franchise record by throwing for 513 yards. Prescott was nearly flawless while beating Tampa Bay in a late-season matchup.

“It took Dak six weeks to throw his first interception last year,” says NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. “We kept waiting to see if it was ever going to happen.”

Prescott (14) and Mariota (50) each received more support than Winston in the Top 100 poll, featuring voting from NFL players. Still, I don’t believe the Bucs would trade Winston for either of those two franchise quarterbacks.

Let’s remember that Prescott had the pleasure of handing off to fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who easily led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. That’s 15 more yards than the Bucs ran for as a team — in 131 additional carries.

Mariota, drafted No. 2 behind Winston in 2015, certainly has a bright future in Tennessee. But Winston is better suited for Koetter’s offense and Mariota doesn’t have Winston’s natural leadership skills.

Who does?

Next-Tier Time

Anyone who watched Carr carve up the Bucs last October knows this 23-year-old field general has it all. He’s the primary reason Oakland is favored to win the AFC West.

Now it’s time for Winston to reach another tier.

“What’s changed is, when you come into the league as a rookie, you had great success in college but you’re playing with grown men now,” Koetter says. “There’s just a lot more thrown at you. The disguise is so much different, the way the defense looks. He’s been through 32 NFL starts and experience is the best teacher. The Tom Bradys and Matt Ryans of the world have got a lot of reps on Jameis.”

With so many elite quarterbacks nearing the end, it’s refreshing to know Jameis Winston has only just begun.

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters for a full year. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out his columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.

19 Responses to “The Youngest Stud”

  1. Stud Says:

    Only young QB I’d rather have over Winston is Carr. Brees is 38? I think the entire NFC South will be happy when he retires.

  2. DB55 Says:

    Look no further than the oline. That’s the major diff between Dak and MM. Dallas has all 1st picks along the line and MM will too very soon. Jameis had Joe Hawley who although fierce in the trenches didn’t have the knee strength to hold up all season. Love the tenacity but the body wasn’t co-operating. And let not even talk about Cherilus.

    All things being equal Jameis is the best QB of the 3.

    He’s a dog,” Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley says about Winston. “He’s gonna fight to the end.”

  3. J 2.0 Says:

    Carr is 26 (23 his rookie season). Prescott will be 24 (23 his rookie season). Winston is 23 and has 2 4000 yard seasons under his belt.

    Andrew Luck was 23 when he was a rookie. Aaron Rodgers didn’t start until he was 25. Winston is 23 with 2 4000 yard seasons under his belt.

    Point is I will take Winston ALL DAY EVERYDAY over anyone else in this league right now.

    While all of the other QB’s were still in college or riding the pine, Winston was throwing for 4000 yards in the NFL. Enough said.

  4. Lord Cornelius Says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. All other 3 QBs have O-lines that are top 5 in the league.

    for optimism on our line:

    LT – Smith – rated top 8 OT by PFF 2nd half of last year in pass pro
    LG – Pamphile – entering his 4th year and only 2nd starting at LG
    C – Ali Marpet – already probowl level G – could be a better C
    RG – Sweezy – should lbe a solid starter if healthy
    RT – Dotson – when healthy has been pretty steady

    RT is my biggest worry. I think Smith was starting to get it last year and is in even better shape this year and will hold that LT spot down. Interior is fine with both starters/depth but this year will let us know for sure if that part of the line is set

  5. Pickgrin Says:

    Your “Fantastic Four” should be pared down to “terrific trio”.

    Dak Prescott is a poser. His success as an NFL QB is heavily dependent on the best Oline in football which also just happens to facilitate one of the best running games in the league.

    If Winston had been put in Dak’s position his rookie year – Jameis would already be considered a top 5 QB after just 2 years.

    Prescott will be exposed at some point as being quite average behind center if he ever has to demonstrate his skills without that wall in front of him and a great RB behind him.

  6. Lamarcus Says:

    Prescott carr mariotta =overrated.

  7. Ben the Ga Buc Says:

    McCoy says the rush doesn’t affect Carr.

    I was at that Bucs-Raiders game last year … the rush didn’t affect Carr because there WAS NO RUSH. Dude barely saw any pressure at all. You don’t get 513 passing yards in one game if you’re getting pressured.

    Man I hope we can hit some QBs this year.

  8. Lord Cornelius Says:

    @ Ben

    Me too man. McDonald was out for that game but we still had McCoy/Ayers/Spence so it was frustrating to see them struggle. At least this year if McDonald or McCoy is out we still have Baker / Tui as depth..

    When our best 3 big men started (McDonald/Ayers/McCoy) we had a lot better rush and went 6-2. Hopefully Baker is a healthier upgrade to McDonald and let him just come off the bench to be more effective

    The only game they were all starting and still weren’t effective was the Dallas game I think.

  9. Stud Says:

    As much as I hate the Cowboys, Prescott played exceptionally well for a rookie. Dallas had the same weapons and line the prior year and having bad QB’s got them a top 10 draft pick.

    Heck McFadden was the #4 leading rusher in the league before Elliott got there. Competent QB play was their missing ingredient.

  10. Pickgrin Says:

    “Prescott played exceptionally well for a rookie”

    Agreed. Just saying he ain’t as good as he looked last year – and the main reason he looked so good IMO was because that Oline in front of him has gelled into quite the formidable force.

    We found that out 1st hand last year when our playoff life was on the line. Bucs Dline got manhandled pretty much the whole game vs Dallas and that game is the primary reason you saw the offseason moves on defense unfold as they did. Every single defensive acquisition made this team either bigger or “tougher”. Baker, Stevie T up front. 250lb Beckwith at LB. Justin Evans and JJ Wilcox on the back end. Every one of these guys has “tude” and either eats up space with size or brings the wood every tackle.

    Hope we meet the Cowgirls in the playoffs this year so we can exact some revenge for that embarrassing loss end of last season. Not embarrassing because we played terribly or weren’t in the game – but for how badly we got manhandled up front on both sides of the ball.

    Hope to see different in 2017. I expect to see different.

  11. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Good take Pickgrin. That dallas game was a visual display of getting destroyed in the trenches on both sides.

  12. BigMacAttack Says:

    All of those old QBs are one good hit away from retirement

  13. BoJim Says:

    I really wanted us to work a way to get Carr but Jameis way more fun too watch and he’s only going to get better.

  14. Buccfan37 Says:

    Though the Bucs played Dallas close in points I could tell they were not going to win that game. Now the Patriots run keeps extending for whatever reason, enough is enough. Call me a conspiracy theorist but something somewhere stinks as that team continues to dominate. It just ain’t right. Spare me the opposing kiss up rebuttals.

  15. DB55 Says:


    Goodell and Kraft are besties but I’m sure that has nothing to do with nothin

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I wanted Carr when he came out. Hardly anyone here thought he would be good. They said he would be like his brother.

    Just think, if we had gotten him, we’d be further along than we are now, because we’d have had a franchise QB sooner.

    That said, this team’s offense is built for Jameis now. I’ll keep him.

  17. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Here’s a question has carr ever beaten the chiefs??? The raiders were frauds last season because thr chiefs pimp slap them whenever they face them. Fameis has wins against every team in our division.

  18. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    You know, those same chiefs that Fameis beat in they’re house the first time ever facing them. Wit a depleted offense. Ya see I see some of you talking now. I wanna see if you’ll still be talking after the season starts. Ya see he has a full arsenal now. I’m taking notes when comes to certain tags on here. Don’t make me look for you then.

  19. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Thanks for saving me the time…I could have just cut and paste your posts.

    As almost always completely agree.