Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy okay with Jameis Winston's leadership role

TAMPA — Shortly after he was drafted a year ago, Jameis Winston got some advice from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy: Just be a rookie and don't try to turn the franchise around by yourself in the first year.

But by the time the Bucs upset the Falcons in Atlanta on Nov. 1, ignited by Winston's emotional pregame speech, it was clear teammates would follow the quarterback out of the locker room and beyond.

"It's a great feeling because I know I have the platform and I know all the guys are watching me and I want them to watch me because I know my main goal is to get better every single day," Winston said. "The quarterback is always going to be the focus of everything."

Meanwhile, a perception grew that McCoy, a four-time Pro Bowl player and theretofore face of the franchise, wasn't comfortable with all of the attention suddenly thrust on Winston.

But McCoy says nothing was further from the truth. All he wanted to do was take the pressure off Winston. As the third overall pick in 2010, whose first two seasons ended on injured reserve, McCoy knows how it feels to be swallowed by expectations.

It wasn't much different than the Bucs' decision to keep Winston's face off the four corners of Raymond James Stadium as a rookie.

"We were missing a franchise quarterback. Every team needs that guy," McCoy said recently. "I believe very early on Jameis Winston was the guy. So I said he will, after this year, maybe sooner, be that guy. When it came about sooner than everybody expected, I think the misperception was 'Jameis is getting all the publicity now, Gerald is so used to being the guy, he can't handle it.'

"I was injured my first two years. There was a time when I was considered a bust. I had to work my way out of that to even be considered a perennial Pro Bowler. Another thing people miss is if we do have a franchise quarterback and who is getting a lot of publicity, something tells me he's doing something associated with winning. So why on Earth would a person who has been here losing for six seasons not want that to be? That does not make sense to me.

"I re-signed with this team because I believe we can win. Now we have the piece to do that and I want to take issue with it?"

McCoy and Winston have never spoken about the perceived schism. There was no need. McCoy was supportive of Winston since the day he became the first overall pick from Florida State.

"I met his parents and his family and told them, 'I'm going to take care of your son. You don't have to worry about him while he's here in Tampa,' " McCoy said. "I did that because I know the pressure that comes with being a first-round pick."

Winston started slowly last season. His first NFL pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown and he threw seven picks in his first four games. But he finished strong, passing for 4,042 yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while rushing for six scores.

As he did as a rookie, Winston likely plans to stand at the door at One Buc Place and greet every player as they report to training camp today. The Bucs are a young team galvanized behind the leadership of their precocious quarterback.

"I know Jameis Winston is my favorite teammate I've ever approached the game with," receiver Kenny Bell said. "The attitude he brings every single day, his approach to the game, his dedication to greatness, the guy just impresses. There's no question about it. I love playing with the guy."

So does McCoy and other leaders such as Vincent Jackson, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. It's Winston's team — and his time.

"I said in his second year, Jameis Winston will be the NFL MVP and people destroyed me for that," McCoy said. "You know why I said that? Because I truly believe in this kid that much."

Comments
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Published: 06/23/18
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Published: 06/23/18
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Published: 06/22/18
Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin, who has had as good an offseason as any Tampa Bay player, was on SiriusXM NFL radio for a scheduled interview on Thursday night, talking about a range of subjects, including the news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start...
Published: 06/22/18
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Published: 06/22/18
Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

There are so many sides to the Jameis Winston suspension, and it will continue to be a major Bucs story line through September and beyond. Here's some of the reactions and notes that have already emerged in the first 24 hours since news broke Thursda...
Published: 06/22/18
Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

TAMPA — Thursday was not the end of Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, but it is in sight.Me? I was sitting at home. I was tired of the NBA draft, even with Tampa's Kevin Knox going to the New York Knicks.So I switched to the NFL Network. An episode ...
Published: 06/22/18
Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

There's no telling how much detail will be disclosed in what the NFL learned in its investigation that led to Jameis Winston being suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, but some have already been reported in the first 24 hours s...
Published: 06/22/18
Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

There are many questions in the aftermath of Thursday's news that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, but even before the suspension is officially announced, he is drawing support on social ...
Published: 06/22/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended by the NFL for three games according to reports, and that number could go up if he doesn't meet certain criteria.Rick Stroud explains that the suspension is not for a failure to report the 2016 i...
Published: 06/22/18