TAMPA — Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has been lauded for his passion on the field this season, but offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the rookie had moments in Thursday's loss to the Rams where he needed to rein himself in with officials and opponents.
"The thing I talked to Jameis about is Jameis is the guy who should be keeping his cool no matter what happens on the field," Koetter said. "There were a few times that we had, more than just one player, more than just Jameis, too worried about the officials and not worried enough about playing or too worried about talking to the opponents. None of that's going to help us win."
Winston addressed his behavior Wednesday, saying he spoke to his teammates about it and apologized.
"I apologized to the team, because it's not emotion and passion," Winston said. "That has nothing to do with the play. It's just when you're doing that, it takes away from the actual game plan. I've got to stop that. I can't be arguing with the refs and Dirk calling the play. That's something I learned. But that game … it was a big game I didn't want anybody to take away from us."
Winston had an extended altercation with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who shoved him twice after one play and wasn't flagged; the episode went on so long that the Bucs had to take a timeout to avoid a delay penalty.
In the third quarter, a delay of game penalty pushed the Bucs into a second and 14 in the red zone. They ultimately settled for a field goal instead of a possible touchdown.
"It affects me negatively when I see him arguing," Koetter said. "It p- - -es me off and then I'm cussing at him on the headset. The two backup quarterbacks reminded me of a play in the game where I accidentally had the button on and they could hear me cussing at him. Jameis is the leader of our offensive football team. The quarterback should be in complete control at all times. He's the guy that relays the information. He knows the play before everyone else. Everyone else is waiting for the information. What are we doing, and oh by the way, the clock's running. … There's not five seconds to waste arguing with the ref or getting into a wrestling match with a d-lineman. There's no place for that."
Coach Lovie Smith, asked about Winston's demeanor in Thursday's loss, said a quarterback should know to be above the fray between plays, but he added that when the 21-year-old out of Florida State has been asked to fix specific parts of his game, coaches haven't had to ask more than once.
"Jameis hasn't done that a lot, hasn't been in that situation an awful lot," Smith said. "Jameis is a first-year player, and he's not a finished product yet. Things like that, what I've seen from Jameis Winston, when things aren't exactly where we'd like them to be, you bring it to his attention and it's eliminated. We won't have to deal with that anymore."
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said all players face a challenge keeping their emotions in check in the intensity of a game, and it's something that can be fine-tuned with experience.
"Our emotions get the best of us at times, but as professionals, we have to try to do our best," McCoy said. "If a guy loses it, hey, he loses it. Sometimes you go overboard, and there have to be consequences. It happens to everybody, man. When it happens, you just go to him as a man, as a brother of that teammate, and just say, 'We can't have that. That's a selfish act. I know you didn't mean to be selfish, but it is a selfish act and it's hurting the team.' You don't come down on him. You just talk to him as a man, you fix it and move forward."
Veteran left guard Logan Mankins said controlling emotions is a skill many players don't pick up until later in their careers.
"It comes with experience. You don't see many quarterbacks down there getting into it with d-linemen. He'll learn," Mankins said. "It's a good thing to have. We'd rather have to tone him down than have to bring him along. It's a good problem to have."
Koetter said he likes Winston's emotion and intensity but it can't impact the offense and the team.
"We're never going to change and get Jameis to not be an emotional player," he said. "He's been fine. He's played like that his whole life. It's a good thing.
"His emotion can never detract from his play or others around him. As long as we're not in that area, we'll be fine."
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.