Now he can throw picks to guys he sees clear as day
Jameis Winston is getting a fresh start in 2020. He has a new team (the Saints), a new job (backup) and new eyes (repaired with laser beams).
Winston, speaking reporters Wednesday for the first time since signing with New Orleans, said he decided to undergo LASIK eye surgery in February to fix his nearsightedness and astigmatism and has been pleased with the results.
“I can read license plates. I can read street signs,” Winston told reporters. “I think the precision in the vision is the biggest difference.”
Winston said his vision was imperfect before, but it wasn’t that bad. Still, he’s seeing significant improvements since the surgery.
“No blurriness, and I think that’s huge,” Winston said. “Depth perception has increased tremendously and those are the big things. I didn’t have bad eyes, I just had astigmatism. I had certain things that they had to fix to increase the precision and the sharpness of my vision.”
Incredibly, Winston hasn’t really done much to address his vision in the past.
“He can’t read the scoreboard, but he can see the guys in front of him, so he’s fine,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said last year. That’s because Winston doesn’t wear contacts, although Arians said he’d sometimes wear goggles in practice.
Anyone who watched Winston last year would have thought he was half-blind. He threw a league-high 30 interceptions, tied for the seventh-most in an NFL season and the most since Brett Favre’s 29 in 2005.
But Winston’s eyes can’t be blamed for all those picks (and he hasn’t said that, either, though some media members are wondering how the surgery might improve his game). He’s been dealing with sub-par vision since he was at Florida State, where he threw 10 interceptions in his first season and 18 in his last. Even in the NFL, his reputation may be as a turnover machine but his interception totals in his first four seasons were 15, 18, 11 and 14. That’s a still a lot of picks—especially 14 in just nine starts in 2018—but it’s not 30.
Thirty interceptions is an insane number. It’s possible improved vision would help that number come down a bit, although it’s not going to magically fix him. Maybe the combination of better eyes and learning behind Drew Brees will help Jameis become a quality starter. Or maybe he’ll just be able to see cornerbacks grinning when he throws up a duck.
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