Jameis Winston: Bucs could have won at least 3 more
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said Monday there were at least three games the Bucs could have won to qualify for the NFL playoffs, something he said he wishes he was a part of.
Appearing on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, as part of their coverage of tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship game, Winston addressed a wide range of topics, from preparing for the title game, to college players boycotting bowl games after entering the NFL draft to breaking down the Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs and Cowboys, the first three of those teams he beat this season.
"Absolutely, and those are the things you reflect more on in the off-season even than you do actually in the season," Winston said. "Because in the NFL, it’s such a small margin of error in this game which is really a game of inches. We had at least three games that we could have won, but woulda, coulda, shoulda don’t mean nothing.
"I wish I had the opportunity to be in this playoff tournament, man, but I love all these teams and it’s very exciting to watch."
How close are the Bucs to being a Super Bowl contender?
"Oh, that’s always the ultimate goal every single year, so I’m never going to be a person to count us out. I’ll let everyone else count us out. So that’s our goal man. That’s what we work hard for, blood sweat and tears, we’ve got training camp in Tampa Bay. This heat down here can be bad sometimes. So that’s just the ultimate goal. You’ve got to expect to win and you’ve got to expect to be there."
Winston was then asked to break down the defense of some remaining playoff teams.
-- On the Atlanta Falcons, whom the Bucs split with this season.
"Just a bend but don’t break defense," Winston said. "They play a lot of single-high zone and in situational football, they play some man. The thing about Atlanta is keep your offense on the field, being able to stay on the field on third down to not have to have third and longs and stay ahead of the chains. Because Atlanta’s offense is what’s really carrying that team to the teeth because Matt Ryan is playing amazing. He has a running back from Florida State in Devonta Freeman who is electric and let’s not forget they have Julio."
-- On Seahawks, who lost to the Bucs 14-5:
"First of all, it was a privilege to go up against them," Winston said. "We didn’t get a chance to play against Earl Thomas. I think that would’ve been a difference-maker in the game when we played against them. But they’re very similar schematically to Atlanta. They have the same coaching tree, per se. They were very similar, so their offenses are going to know the defenses pretty well. It’s going to be a battle between two great quarterbacks. I always talk about Seattle can’t move the ball down, so they have Russell Wilson, a Super Bowl quarterback, so you can never count that guy out.
-- On Dallas, who beat the Bucs 26-20:
"Again to that bend but don’t break defense. I saw a lot of that defense from coach Lovie Smith when I first came to the league because him and coach (Rod) Marinelli have similar systems. When it’s time to play situational football, they’re going to play man but when it’s not situational football, they’re going to be in zone, they’re going to bend but don’t break and try to get that offense to try the ball 4 yards, 5 yards, and try to eliminate those explosive plays. And that’s the thing about the NFL, if you can eliminate explosive plays, driving the ball 80 yards is pretty tough."
-- On the Chiefs, who lost to the Bucs 19-17:
"Well, they have great personnel over there. One guy who is just inspirational is Eric Berry. When you’re sitting in the shotgun or sitting up under center, and you see a guy who’s been through so much, and he’s just out there playing because, with God’s grace, his passion for the field, that’s just touching to me. So when you have someone leading your defense you always have to have that false sense of security, man, when you’ve got a guy who doesn’t fear death on your defense. So that’s what Kansas City has working for them, a bunch of elite pass rushers.
Winston also was asked his thoughts about college players entering the draft not playing in their team’s bowl game:
"I don’t believe it was the players that decided on that fact, it was some way people behind the scenes that you don’t even know. I couldn’t put that in my heart to go out there and watch my team play. Everyone is trying to take advantage of every opportunity they can get, especially players that are kind of on that bubble or don’t know how their last game will be. An injury can really hurt them. So I can see the business side of the decision but other than that, how great is this game of football? Why not cherish the moments that you have with your teammates because these are the moments you’re going to remember and you’re never going to get to be on the same team with those kids again.
"With Christian McCaffrey, a guy from Stanford, you’ve got to believe he put a lot into this decision. The people above him had to convince him. You can imagine how much pressure there is on these kids at 19, 20, 21 years old about to get entrenched with money and glory and everything that comes on draft day. They have so many people demanding stuff from them and people just trying to get them to do stuff, you never know what decisions they’ll make. On why quarterbacks wouldn’t prefer a pro-style offense to a spread offense in college?
-- On running a pro-style offense in college at FSU:
"I was blessed, like I say, by having a coach like coach (Jimbo) Fisher basically walking in at Florida State and being thrown into a pro-style offense," Winston said. "Having the reins, having the keys to the Lamborghini since Day 1. That’s different. That’s why I think college quarterbacks can get overwhelmed in the NFL. But the main thing about the quarterback is you have to have the ability to compete, the ability to process information fast. I know a quarterback that came from a spread offensive system that tore my butt up my first game of the year in Marcus Mariota and he has such a quick release, he’s so smart. Just because you go to a spread team doesn’t mean you have limitations. Same with Cam Newton. He was the NFL MVP last year and he came from a spread offense. The main thing is they have to apply themselves so they can process the information quickly and just be able to play within themselves. Because Carson Wentz, coming from a D-II or D-III (school), just being able to go out there and competing. You’ve got to have that heart to go out there and compete, especially in the NFL."