The Mercedes-Benz Superdome was not an enjoyable site on Sunday for Jameis Winston or the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A 30-10 loss, the Buccaneers' fifth straight defeat, was unhappily punctuated by a right shoulder injury that sidelined Winston at halftime. That marked the second time in the last four games that Winston has been unable to finish a game due to an injury to his throwing shoulder.
On Monday, Head Coach Dirk Koetter revealed that Winston will be out at least two more weeks due to that injury. And so Winston is probably not celebrating, and perhaps isn't even aware, that he hit a fairly significant career milestone in the first half of Sunday's loss. With a nine-yard pass to tight end Cameron Brate in the first quarter, Winston pushed his career passing yardage total beyond 10,000. Before he ceded quarterbacking duties to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Winston completed seven of 13 passes for 67 yards, giving him 10,052 through his first two-and-a-half seasons.
Winston has yet to miss an opening snap since arriving as the first-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, which means Sunday's game in New Orleans was his 40th start. By hitting that five-digit milestone on Sunday, he became just the eighth player in NFL history to record 10,000 passing yards in his first 40 games. Below are those eight players and their current or final career yardage marks. (Players are ordered chronologically as to when they reached 10,000 yards.)
( Active player; career yards through Nov. 6, 2017.)
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 9 matchup with the Saints.
Winston and New England's Drew Bledsoe are the only quarterbacks to reach the 10,000-yard mark before the age of 24*. Bledsoe was younger than Winston by 39 days, though he didn't reach 10,000 yards until his 43rd game.
The Saints limited Tampa Bay's offense to a season-low 200 net yards, including 113 net passing yards. Despite that dip, the Buccaneers still have 2,181 net passing yards as they hit the season's halfway mark, the most the team has ever recorded through the first eight games of a campaign. Obviously, then, the team is on pace to break its single-season team record for net passing yards, which it set in 2012. In fact, the team's current average of 272.6 yards per game is significantly higher than its 2012 pace of 248.9 per game. That gap of 23.7 yards per game is bigger than the difference between 2012 and the eighth-highest season on the list, 1984 (221.6 ypg).
*Here is the Bucs' pace in net passing yards per game in 2017 compared to its five best full-season averages:
|**Season**||**YPG**||**Season Total**||**Primary Quarterback**|
Of course, the Buccaneers will need an assist from Ryan Fitzpatrick to remain on their pace while Winston is out, but the passing attack looks to be well on its way to a team-record final total.
LB Lavonte David forced a fumble by Saints RB Alvin Kamara on Sunday, with safety T.J. Ward recovering. That was David's fourth forced fumble of the season, putting him all alone in first place in the NFL in that category.
As we noted on Friday in our weekly "Data Crunch," David is among the NFL's leaders in a wide variety of defensive categories since he first entered the league in 2012. That includes forced fumbles; with 16, he is tied with Carlos Dunlap for fifth place in that span. David is also top-five in total tackles, solo tackles, tackles for loss and run-stuffs.
David did not record a forced fumble in his 2012 rookie season, but few have done that more often since the start of the 2013 campaign. From the opening week of 2013 through the first half of 2017, David has forced 16 fumbles, which is second only to Robert Quinn. What's doubly impressive is David's forced-fumble production from the position he plays. Every other player in the top five is an edge rusher, a spot that is more likely to produce strip-sacks of the quarterback. That's apparent in the sack totals of those five players.
Most Forced Fumbles, NFL, 2013-17
|Robert Quinn||3-4 LB||LAR||17||43.5|
|Lavonte David||4-3 LB||TB||16||16.0|
|Ryan Kerrigan||3-4 LB||WAS||15||48.5|