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Bucs assistant changes mind about Jameis Winston

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston shouts to his offensive line in the first half during the Bucs’ game against the Saints in the Superdome on Sept. 20, 2015.
Published May 21, 2016

TAMPA — QB Jameis Winston was not a favorite a year ago of now-Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, who admits he preferred Marcus Mariota before the 2015 draft. Apparently, new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the former Southern Miss head coach, also wasn't a big fan of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Until now.

"It's who he is, how he's wired," Monken said. "I think that's one thing that's a misnomer. I think from the outside you would've looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He's a competitive joker, man, he's smart, he's intelligent. … you can win a lot of games with guys like that."

Monken, who also coaches Bucs receivers, said working with Winston every day has made him a believer in the Pro Bowl player.

"I think that's just general in life, especially with social media today, but even before then," Monken said. "Without knowing a person, we make judgments without ever being around them. I think that's just common; that's not just Jameis, that's people."

How much does the passing game need to improve under Winston, who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015 as a rookie?

"Dramatically. It's not a hard game," Monken said. "What a great year offensively. That's a start, but penalties, turnovers, errant throws, drops — what else needs to be said? Sure, you can average 24, 28 points a game, but getting 10 in one game and 38 in another, that's not very good. You want to be consistent every week, and consistency comes from doing those little things."

Speaking of Winston, quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian believes better conditioning will help in several areas this season.

"No. 1, everything in this league is about durability and being able to play as many snaps as possible," Bajakian said. "Last year we were fortunate that he was able to take every snap. But by being in better physical shape, there's a better chance of lasting the season and avoiding injury.

"No. 2, when you're more physically fit, fatigue doesn't become as much of an issue. Being in better physical shape can allow him to maintain a better base, play with lower hips and better feet and just allow him to focus on the details of his technique."

AVERAGE O-LINE?: The young offensive line might have been the strength of the team last season, but offensive line coach George Warhop says it was only "average."

The Bucs had an NFL-most 124 quarterback hits allowed in 2014, and while that total dropped to 109 in 2015, that still represented the league's fourth-highest total, which Warhop won't tolerate.

"Too many quarterback hits, regardless. I don't care whose fault it is," Warhop said. "We all have a hand in that. It's one of our points of emphasis this year. First meeting, 'Hey, listen, guys. Everybody's telling me what a great job you did. I thought we were just average, really.' "

FAITH IN GLENNON: Backup Mike Glennon will be stuck behind Winston for another season, but a lot of people believe he could start for several teams.

"I think the world of Mike, and I've said that since Day 1," Bajakian said. "He is an unbelievable professional. He's unbelievably talented — Mike can definitely start (for) a lot of teams in this league. Not just start but start and have very good success. I truly believe that. I'm excited to have him, because if anything happens to Jameis, I feel we have a guy who can come in and execute at a very, very high level."

Glennon, who did not take a snap in 2015, has passed for 4,025 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The team would get a compensatory draft pick in 2018 if he signs as a free agent with another club next spring.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

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