Bucs say Winston must be more accurate and precise
The last interception Jameis Winston threw in 2016, his 42nd turnover in two seasons, was an example of what the Bucs and their quarterback can no longer do.
Tampa Bay trailed 7-3 to Carolina and faced first and 15 from their own 18-yard line. Four receivers and a tight end were split from the line of scrimmage, including Adam Humphries, who was outside the numbers to Winston’s left.
Panthers cornerback James Bradberry backpedaled and was 15 yards in front of Humphries, who got a late break at the snap of the ball. Humphries ran a 5-yard stop route, but Winston’s pass did not hit him between the numbers as planned. It was wide and bounced off Humphries’ left arm. Bradberry tipped the deflection with his right hand and made the pick, returning it to the Tampa Bay 15.
It was the seventh, first quarter interception by Winston, whose accuracy and precision is a focus for the Bucs this off-season.
“Adam is a little late off the ball, the ball is a little (outside), it gets tipped and Bradberry picks it off,’’ offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken said Thursday. “That’s insulting. That’s insulting to coaching that we couldn’t hit a 5-yard stop route to him right in the numbers. That’s on me first and on us because we got a turnover on a simple play. When you’re asking about the turnovers, that’s a part of it. You’ve got to be (kidding) me. That’s where we have to get better. The simple things we’ve got to do better than anyone else or least try to.’’
Let’s be clear: the Bucs love Winston. They love his competitiveness and charisma. They love his arm strength and work ethic. He has been to a Pro Bowl. He won nine games last season.
Part of the problem has been the Bucs didn’t have many explosive players around him. Mike Evans is a Pro Bowl player and Cameron Brate led all tight ends with eight touchdowns last season. Humphries caught 55 passes last year.
The Bucs added Redskins free agent DeSean Jackson while drafting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard and Penn State receiver Chris Godwin. That should be enough targets to go with Doug Martin (when he returns), Jacquizze Rodgers, Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols.
Playing better around Winston will help Winston.
“Can we run the ball better, can you be ahead in games, can you get the ball out of his hands, in terms of quick game, so you’re not holding it, so you’re not under duress?’’ Monken said. “Can we be more consistent on the perimeter in terms of being in the right spots, which can add to that. So it’s all inclusive. And yet, it’s okay to punt.
“We’ve got to end every possession with a kick. (Florida State coach) Jimbo Fisher used to say that all the time and we’ve either got to be kicking an extra point or we’ve got to be punting it. It’s okay. But for a highly competitive player like he is, and if you go down the line of highly competitive quarterbacks, you’ll find a history of throwing interceptions because they want to make every play. All together that will help him move further as get the ball out quicker and do better things on the perimeter and he obviously learns a win can be throwing it away.’’
As the emphasis has become precision and accuracy for Winston and the offense, the Bucs have begun charting every throw during off-season workouts and will continue to practice throughout training camp.
“Every single one of this throws…are charted on a scale of precise, accurate or off,’’ quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian said. “I do that on a daily basis and tell them where they were and how they compared to the previous day. We’ll looked to compare that on our end with the ability to turn a receiver into a ball carrier.
“Our analytics guy is out there and I had him charting throws as just a barometer to know when maybe I need to pull off or add more, to know how many throws, kind of like a pitch count. I wanted to know a pitch count on a daily basis. Then as we talked about it and I talked about it with Dirk (Koetter) and coach Monken, we said, “Hey, as long as you’re charting them, let’s chart the accuracy. Give them immediate feedback on a daily basis. I know that’s something our quarterbacks looks forward to when we start our meeting. They want to know how they did.’’