Just when I thought things were sufficiently quiet leading up to the start of free agency, Jimbo Fisher decides to wade into the waters! The Florida State head coach appeared on NFL Network's NFL AM show, and had some interesting comments about his now former quarterback, Jameis Winston.
"There are certain guys you just don't want to play against," Fisher said. "It's not just 'Can he do it?' But there are certain guys you don't want to play against. When you ("NFL AM" co-host Eric Davis) played with Joe (Montana), if Joe got the ball at the end of the game, what was gonna happen? Your team was gonna win. That's what this guy does."
Well, that certainly is something!
Winston was the subject of much discussion during the NFL Combine, and will remain a hot topic of conversation through the NFL Draft. During the Combine, one of the big subjects of discussion was his football IQ. There have been anonymous sources talking about how smart he is, going so far as to compare him to Peyton Manning. However, anonymous sources often have an agenda, so we have to take that kind of stuff with a grain of salt.
Fortunately, some people have actually been willing to go on the record. Steve Mariucci conducted a white board Xs and Os session with Winston, and loved what he saw. Todd McShay said Winston would be his second highest rated QB over the last ten years, behind only Andrew Luck. You can view each opinion however you want, but they are interesting to at least consider.
Of course, none of that is quite like saying he has the Joe Montana clutch factor. I won't begrudge Fisher his right to extoll the virtues of his former quarterback, and honestly, I think he was just providing a pertinent example. I spoke with our man Nick Chiamardas about Jimbo's comments. Nick is a big time FSU fan. Feel free to factor that into his opinion, but he had some interesting comments about Jameis:
I certainly think his "clutchness" is an under-rated part of his game, maybe because it's simply unquantifiable. Sadly, as pointed out by Dan Le Batard, I also think there are some racial undertones involved since rarely has a black QB been called cerebral, or compared to Peyton Manning. But that's probably another discussion by itself.
Dating back to the 2014 national title game and throughout the 2014 season Jameis was at his best when his best was needed most - with the lone exception being Oregon (even then, he didn't play teribly). Jameis isn't just a "football smarts" guy. He's quite the academic despite what some of his past indiscretions might lead one to believe. He was after all accepted to Stanford prior to committing to FSU.
Jimbo certainly has a knack for talking up his guys but rarely does he use hyberbole. Since 1992, with the exception of one, every single QB he's coached as played in the NFL. He never compared any of them to Joe Montana (or anyone else even half as remarkable - that I can recall). In fact, if you go back and review his comments about Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel THOSE sound more like coach speak than this.
There's a really great article on ESPN from 2013 that talks about Jameis as a "legend in the making" when as a 12 year old he broke down the qualities needed to be a successful QB and even broke down the cover 3...as a 12 year old.
Sadly, the off the field stuff has over shadowed most of this (and in some cases it was well deserved).