Jameis Winston on PFT Live: 'Hard work has paid off'
The Bucs' three-game win streak to get to 6-5 has piqued national interest in the team, and quarterback Jameis Winston was a guest on Pro Football Talk's PFT Live on NBC Sports Network on Tuesday morning, talking with Mike Florio for 10 minutes about his second season and the team's progress.
Here's what he had to say:
Florio: Of the big wins against the Chiefs and Seahawks, which win meant more to you?
Winston: "I would have to say both. Because the first game against K.C., it was a confidence booster for our team, but the last game, we had a very emotional background to the game with one of our cornerbacks, Alterraun Verner, losing his father the Friday after Thanksgiving, and two players in Kevin Pamphile and Lavonte David spending their first Thanksgiving without their mothers, so that was a very emotional win for us."
Florio: Eleven games into your second season, what's been the hardest part of the transition from college to the NFL?
Winston: "Maintaining a routine. You can never be bored with being consistent. You've got to keep getting better every day. You've got to find a way to get better every day."
Florio: How much has the game slowed down for you as a quarterback?
Winston: "It's gotten better, because I've gotten more comfortable with the offense. Being able to process information quickly, that's the key to being able to slow things down."
Florio: What is an area where you're pushing yourself to improve?
Winston: "I'm still just trying to tone up my pocket presence. Always staying technique sound, whether it's my three-step drop, my five-step drops, my seven-step drops, whether it's holding the ball up when I move in the pocket, not taking a hand off the ball, always keeping two hands on the football inside the pocket. I don't think you can ever get too good at your pocket presence and being a general inside that pocket."
Florio: There's always worry about QBs taking hits. How do you balance protecting yourself with embracing the physicality of football?
Winston: "I'm still learning that the definition of a quarterback is supposed to protect himself. I'm just out there being a football player. I know I take some unnecessary hits, and that just ties into me just throwing the football away or ducking out of the way of a defender coming at me. I really embrace the mentality that football is a tough sport. I go out there every day and I think my teammates like to see me compete out there, but I bet they'd like me to get down a couple of times, too."
Florio: You made a commitment in the offseason to getting in better shape. How do you feel right now?
Winston: "I feel great. Taking care of your body is very important. When I made the decision to focus on how I ate and how my body looked, me and Tim Grover sat down and made up a plan and just went to work. The hard work has paid off. I still have to get better every single day. You never can be too perfect on your diet. That diet stuff is pretty tough."
Florio: Especially at Thanksgiving. Do you give yourself that day off?
Winston: "I tell you what, Thanksgiving is a family day, so you better believe it, I dove into some sweet potato pies and all the vegetables and meats that come with Thanksgiving."
Florio: You had strong compliments for Mike Evans after Sunday's game. What makes him so special?
Winston: "Just his competitiveness. He never wants to get beat. He always wants to win. When you have a receiver like that, you can play with him, you can win with him, because any time you throw the ball his way, he's going to compete for the football and try to make a play for you. That's one of his best assets is his ability to make a play on any ball."
Florio: The knock on your team early this year was the defense. Why do you think the defense has improved to where it was dominant against the Seahawks?
Winston: "Our defense, all through this year, we started off hot, but they're still trying to find their identity. I think the leaders on that side of the ball, Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Clinton McDonald, guys like that, they're starting to get comfortable in their shoes, starting to play very well. We kind of put our defense (behind) the eight ball earlier in the season, we me having some key turnovers on my side of the field that kind of hurt them a little bit, giving them short fields. Now that we're protecting the football, giving them a chance to play their true defense, I think everything is coming together."
Florio: One of the more intriguing stories in the past month was the letter you distributed to teammates before the Chiefs game. Where did that come from?
Winston: "Just looking for a way to reach the guys, to give them some kind of confidence boost. This football season is a very long season, but in a way, that's mental. At the end of the day, we want to play football as long as we possibly can. We never can have a moment in the season where we feel like we've been defeated. So I wanted everybody to know we have each other and we have a reason to keep on fighting."
Florio: Did you have any concern in the locker room that it wouldn't connect the way you wanted it to?
Winston: "I had no concern at all. I didn't do it out of selfish ambition. I did out of my true love and my dedication for this team. I'm so grateful for every guy that walks into this building at their respective times in the morning, and I let them know that, let them know how grateful I was for them. The way I relay my message to them, it came straight from the heart. If you couldn't sit there and respect that and really listen to that, then you probably one of the guys that don't need to be here."
Florio: You're now facing a Chargers team that doesn't have the same sizzle as the Chiefs or Seahawks. What's the challenge having the same mindset?
Winston: "Not taking anyone for granted and playing Buccaneer football. We've been playing great complementary football over the past few weeks. We have to continue that. We have not arrived by any chance. We have to continue to get better every single day. I think the guys know that. San Diego, their offense is amazing. They have a great young team with a quarterback from Alabama in Philip Rivers, so I know he's going to bring it. I'm just excited to play against one of the Alabama greats."
Florio: You have a game with the Cowboys ahead in Dallas. How hard has it been to not peek ahead and be excited to face that team?
Winston: "Not hard at all. I really believe in that 1-0 mentality. Every week is our biggest week of preparation. This next week is San Diego. There's a lot of time in the world to look forward and be able to prepare for an outstanding team like Dallas, which is playing very well with their young guys, but we have to focus on San Diego. We don't have time to take any breaks or look down on a team."
Florio: You will always be compared to Marcus Mariota as the top two picks in your draft. How closely do you pay attention to him?
Winston: "I watch every quarterback in this league compete, and I always try to see how their days were compared to my days. I'm just in a universal competition, not just with NFL quarterbacks, but with college quarterbacks as well. I believe as long as I'm competing against everybody, I can only hope for the best for me. Marcus is a tremendous player. It's tough to battle with him on a week-to-week basis, but that's what it's all about. God put me here for football, and I'm going to try to play my best, week in and week out."
Florio: Who does Jameis Winston try to emulate at the quarterback position?
Winston: "I've got so many styles to my game. I love old-time quarterbacks: Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Warren Moon, (Michael) Vick in his prime. Just so many people I look up to, Doug Williams being a deep-threat guy. I try to emulate everyone, because success repeats itself and you can only get better from trying to copy what they do."