Jameis Winston's improved decision-making and accuracy are a big reason why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the NFC Playoff picture. So are his big plays.
As part of our Bucs Quarterly Report, here's the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team's takes on the most famous Jameis moments through three-quarters of the season:
'I'm not a loser'
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: At 3-5, Winston standing defiant and saying, " I'm not a loser. We're winners in this building.'
There's plenty of moments to choose from. The scramble and long completion to Mike Evans against the Bears. The pinpoint accuracy on third down at K.C. The two TD passes to Evans vs. Seattle. Writing a letter to teammates. But at 3-5, saying, "I'm not a loser. We're winners in this building," said something.
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: He's throwing touchdowns, he's handing out a game ball to Bucs fans, he's going every which way, twisting and turning, to complete that long pass against the Bears.
I still like Jameis, leader as letter writer, putting it down in his own words, to inspire himself and maybe his teammates. You can't make this stuff up.
Coming soon: Every Bucs fan gets their own game ball if the Bucs beat the Saints. It will be very costly and take a very long time. Jameis is also going to hire a sleigh and reindeer, so you better watch out.
Actually, you can make this stuff up.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins' last stand
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: I still marvel at Winston's 30-yard TD pass to Austin Seferian Jenkins in the season opener.
It seems like a play that happened a year ago instead of three months ago, but all the promise Winston possesses was capsulized in that spectacular pass. It showed how Winston can take advantage of tremendously skilled players. It's a shame Jenkins' off-field decisions cost him the opportunity to make more magic with Winston. Cameron Brate has stepped up but a two tight-end approach with both players could have turned out to be a dynamic combination.
The source of Koetter's trust
Greg Auman, @gregauman: Easy, but the spin and throw to Evans vs. Bears. Winston has made amazing throws under difficult circumstances all season, but this is still the top of the list. The single biggest step forward in this Bucs offense is Winston's confidence to throw the ball to Mike Evans and know he'll come down with it, and Evans has rarely disappointed. Last year, there was so much talk about Evans' drops and the lack of a real red-zone connection between the two, but this year has been the opposite, with quarterback and receiver so much on the same page and clicking anywhere near the end zone.
Evans is having the greatest season a receiver has had in Bucs history, and he needs to keep up the record pace he's on. A year ago, he struggled once Vincent Jackson went down and he became the easy focus for opposing defenses, and he's thrived in that same situation this season without a true No. 2 receiver opposite him. The Bucs' other passing options, especially tight end Cam Brate, have taken advantage of the focus on Evans and stepped up, especially in the red zone.
Again, for a single play that showed why Dirk Koetter trusts Winston as completely as he does, it has to be Winston circling back 25 yards into his own end zone, then stepping up and heaving the ball to a leaping Evans. That he would immediately follow that play with a long touchdown pass to a receiver with exactly one career catch at that moment is also very emblematic of what Winston's done this season.
The Seattle start
Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: The first two drives vs. Seahawks, both of which resulted in touchdowns. The scramble and 39-yard pass to Mike Evans against the Bears might be the play of the season, but Winston's performance to open the game against the Seahawks was an attention grabber.
His 26-yard pass to Evans over two defenders on the opening drive was as good a throw as you'll see. Then, he came back on the next drive and threw a perfectly placed ball to Evans in the end zone.
That game stands out to me as the game where the Bucs served notice to the NFL that they weren't going to be bullied any longer.