Winston has started out sharp in preseason

by Gary Shelton on August 21, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Winston is off to a good start in camp./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston is off to a good start in camp./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 a.m.

Halfway through the sweat, and the quarterback looks cool and collected.

Halfway through the grind, and Jameis Winston has clear sailing.

He looks sharper. He looks more efficient. No, he doesn't look perfect. Yes, he had his brain cramp moment in a nullified interception where he tried too hard to force something. But if you evaluate Winston's play overall, it's hard not to be pleased.

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Winston should play into the third quarter against the Browns./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston should play into the third quarter against the Browns./CARMEN MANDATO

So far, Winston has hit 30 of his 42 passes (71.4 percent) for 295 yards. Yeah, that'll do. His rating is 90.4.

That's not a small thing. Last year, Winston's rating in the first quarters of games was his worst of the day. He had 65.0 rating, compared to 91.1 in the second and 108.0 in the third. It was 77.5 in the fourth, but it was 86.3 when his team was within a touchdown.

Yeah, better starts could lead to, well, a better start.

Then, there are his goals. He wants to decrease his interceptions; he doesn't have any (that have stood). He wants to make more big plays; that's still to be seen.

Still, coach Dirk Koetter likes what he sees in Winston's deep ball.

“Yeah, I think so,” Koetter said, when asked if Winston had improved his deep passes. “The beautiful one to DeSean (Jackson) – I think Jameis threw it as far as he could and DeSean went and got it. Jameis overthrew that other one over here on the left side to Adam (Humphries) a little bit, but overall you can’t argue with how Jameis has done.

“He threw a beautiful deep one to Mike (Evans) in the game the other night, so I think Jameis improved across the board."

Winston has already renewed his chemistry with tight end Cameron Brate.

“They have (had chemistry) since early when Jameis first got here,” Koetter said. “Those were the first two guys to click and the whole chemistry thing — it’s hard to put your finger on it — some guys never get it, some guys get it early — those two guys definitely have it.”

Winston said he didn't see the end of the play on his long pass to Jackson Sunday.

"I just threw it and I just knew he was going to go and get it,” Winston said. “What they did at the end, I was already getting another play. That's the thing about those amazing plays: They make them and sometimes I miss them. But the good thing about games is, when we make them in a game we get to celebrate together, baby.

"I feel like it can definitely get better. With guys like that, just give those guys a chance to make plays and they'll do it."

One of the missing elements of Winston's play has been connecting with Mike Evans in the end zone. Winston missed him twice in the first game. Still, he remains confident.

"Me and Mike have kind of like a deal – you're in the red zone and you get one-on-one, 'All right, we've got it,'” Winston said. “That's the mentality, that's the type of receiver he is. He feels that…he knows that he cannot be stopped, especially down there. It's on me to execute with him, but the guy's special. He's special in the league and I'm just honored to have him."

Winston also praised his offensive line.

"They've been doing a great job. These past two games, man, I've been clean. The only time I got hit was on myself. I brought it on myself and I do that a lot, but I'm going to stop doing that as much to help those guys feel better about themselves. They like when they see me coming to the sideline and I'm super-clean."

Winston said he was looking forward to playing a good amount in Saturday night's preseason game against the Browns.

“Everyone's been talking about the hype and how good the offense has been going, but execution is the most important thing,” Winston said. “Right now, that's all that matters. Actions speak way louder than words and we have to continue to have effective drives. What I'm looking for is going out there and scoring in the red zone."

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