Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Defining Jameis Winston's Year 3 challenge

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Jameis Winston is about goose bumps, not speed bumps. He's not slowing down for anyone. The charismatic quarterback of the Bucs refuses to quit on a play. He's always thinking touchdown over check down.

It has served him well in his first two NFL seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He had back-to-back 4,000-yard passing seasons. He took his team from two to six to nine wins.

But if Winston is as special as he appears to be, this is the year he will end a nine-year playoff drought.

If not now, when?

"This roster is amazing," Winston said following the Bucs first training camp practice Friday. "It makes this whole team better, not just me. Because as they go, I go. As I go, we go."

If you look at other quarterbacks taken high in the first round, guys like Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck or even Peyton Manning, the third season is when it started to click.

In nearly every case, they threw more touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and completed a higher percentage. And they all took their teams into the playoffs.

"There's been a lot said and written about that third year thing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "Even though I've coached for a long time, you don't have a lot of guys where I coached them for three years. So I don't really know that. I just think the way Jameis works, Jameis is going to get better and better.

"I go back to this all the time: Tom Brady (turns 40 Thursday), Drew Brees (38), Matt Ryan, 32. Jameis Winston, 23. Okay? He's going to get better. I don't how much this year or how much next year. But he's going to get better."

Winston has always arrived ahead of schedule. As a redshirt freshman, he led Florida State to a national championship and won the Heisman Trophy. The next season, he had the Seminoles in the national semifinal.

The fact that Winston came to the worst team in the NFL and underwent a head coaching change after his first season made the hurdle higher. But this off-season, the Bucs added DeSean Jackson and rookies O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin.

"It's fun. Just taking the snap and analyzing the field and seeing that you've got guys that can go get it everywhere." Winston said.

It doesn't seem that long ago that the Bucs had another quarterback coming off an excellent second season in which his team won 10 games and he threw 3,451 yards with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

Josh Freeman took a step back the next two seasons, the coach was fired and he was released three games into 2013.

Winston's ability, leadership and intangibles are certainly better than Freeman's. But when you're special, it shows up much sooner than later at that position in the NFL.

For all of Winston's early success, his 42 turnovers — 33 interceptions and nine lost fumbles — have been his Achilles heel. "Protecting the football is always a must...I'm going to get better at that," Winston said. "We have a lot of things to earn.

"I can't speak on what history has proven. I want to be a great leader to this team, I want to serve my teammates and I want to win. Everything is a process and everyone loves winning. When you win, this community just jumps behind you and there's no telling how good we can be with them behind us."

It's hard to imagine a team having more belief in its quarterback unless their name was Brady, Rodgers, Ryan or Newton.

"With these new weapons, he's going to be an even better player than he already is," receiver Mike Evans said. "He's just a great leader.... and this year he's going to explode."

But quarterbacks are ultimately judged by their postseason success. If Winston is truly special, he'll join some of the best in the game and carry his team over their goal of reaching it.

This year.

"This game is about creating opportunities and who knows what can happen when you get into the playoffs," Winston said. "Anything can happen. When you think about all the wild-card teams that barely got in and end up winning the Super Bowl. That's just the goal. The goal is to get there and after we get there, the goal is to win the Super Bowl."

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] @NFLStroud

     
Comments
Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.In fact, the best part of Sunday’s game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirri...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.It’s a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.The Bu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

MIAMI GARDENS — For chaos, there was Jameis Winston missing his second game with a shoulder injury and an NFL investigation swirling around him.For calamity, there was the Bucs forcing four of their five turnovers in the first half and building a two...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins:  How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

Bucs-Dolphins: How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

MIAMI GARDENS — From start to finish, the Bucs’ wobbly 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday was made possible by game-changing plays made by rookies.The Bucs’ top three picks in this year’s draft — tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans and rece...
Updated: 2 hours ago
NFL Week 11: What we learned

NFL Week 11: What we learned

Is Jerry Jones the next Al Davis? Is he really going to let his anger for commissioner Roger Goodell ruin his relationship with the other owners? Should we have seen this coming? I think the answers are: Yes, probably and yes. Jones is the modern-day...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Figures from FSU case enter latest allegation against Jameis Winston

Figures from FSU case enter latest allegation against Jameis Winston

MIAMI GARDENS — The case of Jameis Winston and a female Uber driver in Arizona took more twists Sunday, with Winston getting some level of corroboration, and his unnamed accuser retaining a familiar, high-profile attorney.Eagles cornerback Ronald Dar...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

MIAMI GARDENS — Patrick Murray has been so consistent since taking over as the Bucs’ kicker that he had no doubt when called upon to make a go-ahead field goal with four seconds left in Sunday’s win.Ryan Fitzpatrick completed three passes for 55 yard...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

The Bucs won their second straight and snapped a six-game road losing streak Sunday. And they did it after blowing a 13-point lead.Here’s a sampling of reactions on social media to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win over the Dolphins in Miami Gardens:...
Published: 11/19/17
Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday:5Bucs takeaways, four of which occurred in the first half. Tampa Bay last recorded four takeaways in the first half against Chicago in Week 2.6Turnovers quarterback Jay C...
Published: 11/19/17
Bucs-Dolphins: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

The Buccaneers won their second straight game Sunday in Miami Gardens, breaking a six-game road losing streak in the process. Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win over the Miami Dolphins:WINNING IS WINNIN...
Published: 11/19/17