In Jameis Winston’s six seasons as an NFL starter, in the first five games of those seasons, he never has had fewer than the current 892 passing yards he accumulated through the first five of 2021.
On the flip, he also never had more than the 12 touchdown passes, or less than the three interceptions, that he totaled this season.
Clearly, the older dog has learned how to take better advantage of the tricks at his disposal, something the New Orleans Saints (3-2) hope to see a continuation of as they prepare to play the Seahawks (2-4) on Monday night at Lumen Field in Seattle.
"Every year, I try to find something to get better on, but this year I've really just honed in on not focusing on the outcome or result," said Winston, who's completing 60.3 percent of his passes and is coming off his highest passing total (279 yards, against Washington) as a Saint.
"I'm just focusing on the decision. That's it," he said. "Throughout the course of my career, that's been the most significant thing for me. I like throwing touchdowns and I like the outcomes. Sometimes I don't like the result and I've been a player to live off momentum.
"Now, I might throw a ball away. I might not like the outcome, but it was the right decision. So, I'm just focusing on doing the right thing."
"The right thing" helped Winston produce a five-touchdown game in the season-opening win against Green Bay (the second of his career), and a four-touchdown game against Washington that featured a 72-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Harris, the longest scoring pass of Winston's career.
Before this season, his highest touchdown total through his first five starts of a season had been 11, in 2019, and his lowest interception total had been three, in '17. He'd never had a 4-to-1 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio before this year; the best was 2.3-to-1, in '17 (seven touchdowns, three interceptions).
And the big plays are beginning to surface. In addition to the touchdown to Harris, Winston has had completions of 49 (a Hail Mary touchdown to Marquez Callaway), 32 (to tight end Adam Trautman) and 58 yards (to Callaway) in the last two games, plus a 55-yard score to Harris in the season opener.
But the shorter routes is an area where Winston wants to be more efficient.
"Find a way to throw a smooth ball in the underneath game, not firing the ball too hard so those guys can handle it," he said. "I want to give nice, accurate balls in the underneath game so we can get more catch and carries.
"We've had explosive plays, but I just want to be more accurate. I think that's what Drew (Brees) was so good at, just being accurate underneath. Instead of it being a catch and tackle, those guys getting four or five yards after the catch really does matter.
"It is like an extension of the run game. You want four yards, but if you can throw an accurate ball to get you to seven, you'll take that any day."
Too, he and the Saints will take his start this season. Even with a two-interception game against Carolina, Winston's decision-making mainly has led to the right result, as the Saints lead the league in red zone efficiency (13 touchdowns on 14 trips, including nine scoring passes and a touchdown run by Winston).
"The thing I get excited for every week is Coach (Sean) Payton, (offensive coordinator) coach (Pete) Carmichael, (offensive analyst) coach (Jim) Chaney and (quarterbacks) coach (Ronald) Curry coming up with a masterpiece every single week.
"My main goal is that I'm not worried about numbers. I know I can throw for 500 yards and eight touchdowns, but I want to get that 'W' in the win column. We have been fortunate to have more wins than losses so far and have to keep it that way. We've got to stack up some wins.
"So, that is what I am excited for every single week, finding ways to win the game. Coach tells me the numbers will come and all that good stuff will come with it."