TAMPA — Chris Godwin was always one of Jameis Winston’s biggest defenders, and as his own star rose last season, the Bucs wide receiver was always willing to shoulder his share of the blame for Winston’s interceptions.
Back in Week 8 of last season, the Bucs suffered one of their most devastating losses, 27-23 to the Titans in Nashville. It was a game the Bucs should have won, but they committed four turnovers that afternoon — two interceptions and two lost fumbles charged to Winston — to drop to 2-5 on the season. Inside the Bucs locker room at Nissan Stadium, the frustration piqued.
Godwin was the intended target on two Winston throws that were intercepted. One pass sailed on Winston well out of Godwin’s grasp and into the hands of a Titans defender. On another pass, Godwin took a turn to the outside when Winston threw to the inside and into the hands of Logan Ryan, but the interception was called back after a review for hitting the ground first.
After the game, Godwin took the blame for both plays.
“I’ve got to do my job regardless of what the situation is,” he said that day. “I’ve got to make sure I’m in the right spot, I have to run the right route, I have to adjust the right way. Both of those are completely on me.”
And last season, as Godwin developed into one of the league’s top receivers, he formed a strong connection with Winston, catching 72.3 percent of the balls Winston threw his way en route to setting new career highs in yards (1,333) and touchdowns (nine).
Godwin’s done a few interviews in the past week — where several times he has confirmed that he’s more than willing to give Tom Brady his No. 12 out of respect for the six-time Super Bowl champion — but he’s also come to Winston’s defense, saying that his former quarterback was “misunderstood” and received a “bad rap.”
“Really (I’m going to miss) just having him in the locker room,” Godwin told Complex Sports. “I feel like Jameis gets a bad rap a lot of times and people think it may seem like the cool thing to hop on the bandwagon and kind of trash him. But I enjoyed having Jameis in the locker room and having him as a friend, knowing that he’s going to be the same dude every time I come in. He’s funny, down to earth, for me I see him as a positive aspect of our locker room and that’s going to be missed.”
Of Winston’s league-high 30 interceptions, Godwin said he believed half were a result of his receivers making a mistake.
“There have been times when maybe he held on to the ball too long and they’ll be like a strip sack or there was a bad read on his part where he threw it to the wrong guy,” Godwin said in a separate interview with The Boardroom. "... But on the other side, there have been a bunch of times ... there have been times where receivers either ran the wrong route, I’ve been guilty of running a wrong route or not being in a spot where he thought I was going to be and you get intercepted and you get a turnover. It’s not just him. I think people who are really entrenched in football understand that, that the quarterback gets a lot more of the blame than he deserves. Sometimes he gets a lot more credit than he deserves, too. But that’s just the nature for the position.
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“I definitely think he got more of the blame than he deserved,” Godwin added. “I think he’s a really, really talented quarterback. Obviously there are things that he does that you can’t teach. And there are plays that he made that just weren’t smart plays. But a lot of the mistakes and interceptions that he made, I would say half of them were because of a bad read on someone else’s part. ... The great thing about him is he’s not going to go out there and throw anybody under the bus. He’s going to own up to it, he’s going to take it, and he’s going to be a leader. And there’s respect to that.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.