Jameis Winston has been selected as the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. The NFL’s award was selected based on a fan vote, which was conducted on NFL.com for the past month. The first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston was also voted Pepsi Rookie of the Week in Weeks 2, 5 and 11 of the regular season, more than any other rookie in the league. Winston became only the second Buccaneer to win the Pepsi Award since running back Cadillac Williams in 2005.
“It feels great to receive this honor from the fans,” said Winston.
“My goal coming into my rookie season was to come in and do whatever it took to help us win games and compete. As great as this individual accomplishment is, it is really a reflection of how well our entire offense did this season. The fans are what make our sport so great and getting this kind of recognition based on their votes is very special to me.”
Jamies Winston was one of five finalists up to receive the honor; each was selected thanks to their outstanding performances throughout the season. The other finalists were Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper, Rams running back Todd Gurley, Seahawks wideout/return man Tyler Lockett and Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters.
After signing a four-year, $23.35 million contract with the Buccaneers, with a $16.7 million signing bonus on May 1, 2015, the first overall draft pick saw his first professional pass intercepted by the Tennessee Titans and returned for a touchdown. Jameis Winston had several passes intercepted in that game.
However, those errors were not indicative of Jameis Winston’s performance this season. The quarterback also earned his first NFL touchdown that game.
The official Tampa Bay Buccaneer website reported that Jameis Winston threw over 4,000 yards, the third-most by a rookie in league history. Winston’s total passing yards were also the second-most by a Buccaneer quarterback in a single season. With 28 combined touchdowns, Jameis Winston had the third-most touchdowns by a rookie signal-caller, as well.
Jameis Winston led all NFL quarterbacks with six rushing touchdowns and completed 312 of 535 passes for 4,042 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. In addition to joining Cam Newton and Andrew Luck as the only NFL rookies to throw for 4,000 yards, Winston also became only the second rookie in NFL history to throw for five touchdowns and no interceptions in a game.
According to NFL Communications Winston did that during a 45-17 win in week 11 over the Eagles in Philadelphia on Nov. 22. Prior to that game, the only rookie quarterback to have such a day was Ray Buivid of the Bears on December 5, 1937.
In 2015, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved their win total by four games with Jameis Winston at the helm of their offense. The offense set a franchise record for total yards (6,014) and finished the year ranked fifth overall in the league in total yards per game (375.9). That was the team’s highest-ever finish. In the 2014 season, the team was ranked No. 30.
Falling just 23 yards shy of setting a Bucs franchise record for passing yards, Winston set franchise rookie records for pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.
Jameis Winston wrapped up the playing portion of the 2015 season last Sunday when he participated in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
Winston now has a chance to double up on rookie of the year awards as he is also a candidate for the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award that will be televised live beginning at 9 p.m. on CBS.
Check out Jameis Winston’s rookie season highlights.
[Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Pepsi]