Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken says he was 'dead wrong,' about Jameis Winston
Quarterback Jameis Winston was not a favorite a year ago of Bucs' head coach Dirk Koetter, who admits he preferred Marcus Mariota. And apparently, new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the former Southern Miss head football coach, also wasn't a big Winston fan.
"It's who he is, how he's wired,'' Monken said. "I think that's one thing that's a misnomer. I think from the outside you would've looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He's a competitive joker, man, he's smart, he's intelligent...you can win a lot of games with guys like that.''
Monken, who also coaches Bucs receivers, said working with Winston every day has made him a believer in the Pro Bowl player.
"I think that's just general in life, especially with social media today, but even before then,'' Monken said. "Without knowing a person, we make judgements without ever being around them. I think that's just common, that's not just Jameis, that's people. You make thoughts, impressions when you meet someone on Facebook or Twitter or (Snapchat), you think you know them. You think you're a part of their life, you have no idea what they're like until you get around them and you're around them day to day and see what they're about. That's in terms of life, not just him.''
That said, it will be Monken's job to make sure Winston and the Bucs receivers are in synch and that starts with practice reps and developing consistency in young players. How much does the passing game need to improve under Winston, who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015?
"ramatically. It's not a hard game,'' Monken said. "What a great year offensively. That's a start, but penalties, turnovers, errant throws, drops. what else needs to be said? There were a lot of points left off the board and when you do that, you lose some consistency to your offense. Sure, you can average 24, 28 points a game, but getting 10 in one game and 38 in another, that's not very good. You want to be consistent every week and consistency comes from doing those little things. Plus as our young nucleus, our core groupe of players get better, our young linemen, the running backs, the receivers, the quarterbacks, we should be able to become more consistent.''
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian said the next step is for Winston to improve his throwing technique and accuracy. He completed 58.3 percent of his passes last season.
"I think with experience and a more firm grasp of the offense comes more responsibility,'' Bajakian said. "I don't think there's anything earth-shattering about that. It's not like we're letting him call plays or anything. He's at a point now where he can handle more on his plate on the mental side of the game.
"That's the beauty of having him here for more than a year now. When he got here last year, for much of the early process, it was dedicated so much of our time to learning the offense, learning the procedure and being able to manage the offense. Now we're at a point where he's proficient enough in the offense where we can focus on the details of his technique, from his footwork to his release to accuracy, moving in the pocket, all those little details of playing the position are now a matter of attention for us.''
Bajakian said he can already see the benefit of Winston's improved conditioning and weight loss.
"A couple things, number one, everything in this league is about durability and being able to play as many snaps as possible,'' Bajakian said. "Last year, we were fortunate that he was able to take every snap. BUt by being in better physical shape, there's a better chance of lasting the season and avoiding injury.
"Number two, when you're more physically fit, fatigue doesn't become as much of an issue. In the quarterback position in particular, that's not always the case as much as it is with receivers and defensive backs or offensive linemen. But still, being in better physical shape can allow him to maintain a better base, play with lower hips and better feet and just allow him to focus on the details of his technique.''