One of the most unlikely quarterback duels in the NFL will take place Sunday when Jameis Winston and Trevor Siemian start under center in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ matchup against the Denver Broncos.
Both were selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, and that’s, uhhh, where the comparisons stop.
Winston was the No. 1 overall pick in that draft. He won a national championship and a Heisman at Florida State. He threw for 65 touchdowns in two seasons. At Northwestern, Siemian played four seasons and threw less than half that amount: 27. The Broncos chose Siemian 250th overall as a low-risk gamble.
To say that Winston and Siemian had different college careers is to say that Donald Trump has a bit of an ego. And yet here we are, with the first quarterback chose in the 2015 NFL Drat set to face the last one chosen. Football is funny that way, sometimes.
Through three weeks, few NFL teams have asked more of their quarterback than the Buccaneers. Winston’s attempted a league-high 142 passes, which is two more than noted Saints’ gunslinger Drew Brees. The results are about what you’d expect from a team so dependent on a second-year QB: Some great moments, some bad ones. Winston leads the NFL in touchdowns passes (eight) and turnovers (eight).
Tampa Bay receivers Mike Evans (6’5’’) and Vincent Jackson (6’5’’) give Winston two enormous targets to chuck the ball to. But apart from them, Winston doesn’t have much to work with. The Buccaneers rank 25th in yards per carry (3.6), and they’ll likely be without their best rusher, Doug Martin, who’s dealing with a hamstring issue.
Asking Winston to drop back 50-plus times is a good way to get him smacked around against this Broncos defense. Denver’s opponents have proven you can run the ball effectively against them. But is Tampa Bay capable of doing so? It doesn’t appear that way.
The Von Miller oversized glasses matchup to keep an eye on
The Broncos cornerbacks versus the Buccaneers wide receivers.
Tampa Bay starting wideouts Evans and Jackson, as mentioned above, are very large men.
Evans has already reeled in 21 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Winston, who’s targeted him 39 times alone, loves throwing it up to Evans and letting him make plays in traffic against smaller players.
Watch this 45-yard bomb Evans caught in Week 1 against Atlanta.
Denver corners Chris Harris Jr. (5’10’’) and Aqib Talib (6’1’’) might give up a few inches and pounds, but they aren’t going to be intimated. Talib, the bigger of the two, will likely get most of the snaps against Evans. That battle should be a lot of fun to watch.
How to watch the game
When: 2:05 p.m. Sunday
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Denver – 3 ½
Broncos 28, Buccaneers 14
(1-2 on the season)