Is there a leader among the Tampa Bay Bucs?

by Gary Shelton on December 28, 2018 · 2 comments

in general

Is Winston the leader the Bucs need?/CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 3 a.m.

Here's a question for the ages: Can a team that is going nowhere have a leader as it travels?

Oh, the Bucs should know all about leaders. Lee Roy Selmon played here. And Derrick Brooks. And Mike Alstott and Ronde Barber and John Lynch. Across town, the Bucs have seen Dave Andreychuck and Martin St. Louis and Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

But, still, who wants to follow another athlete who can get lost at times himself?

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All of which brings us to Jameis Winston, who has won six games over the past two seasons and has had his own struggles with maturity. Is he your lead singer? Is he the director of the movie?

Oh, Winston does have some ingredients. He plays a leadership position, quarterback. He talks a good game. He is the biggest yardage producer on the team.

Still, is he a leader? And if so, where is the franchise going?

“My competitiveness isn’t different at all," Winston said. "I think you can lead in different ways. I think people receive messages differently. Initially talking to people – my peers that are the same age that I am – it’s easier to get guys riled up and kind of get them to match that level of intensity with you.

"These are grown men. For the most part, if we’re getting paid to be professionals and do our job, if a rah-rah speech or some magnificent 20 words said in a pregame speech – if that’s the magical thing to get us going and winning – I’d be happy to do that. There’s 53 guys in there that can tell you right now they’ve been playing this game for a long time and no particular speech can get them to go out there and perform better on the football field.”

The question begs to be asked, however. Do the Jets have leadership? The Cardinals? The Raiders? Can any team in last place claim leadership?

If you were going to suggest leadership by the Bucs, wouldn't it be Jason Pierre-Paul, who has added substance to the defense? Wouldn't it be Gerald McCoy with all of his Pro Bowls? Mike Evans with all of his catches?

"In training camp, it allowed me to kind of take a back seat and have more conversations with some of the men I was playing with," Winston said. "When they were off the field either I was getting scout team reps or second-string reps. It allowed me to actually be kind of a coach back there. I think after the weeks that I was suspended it allowed me to even grow into more of a coach. Just my understanding and the respect that I have for those men that are around me, it kind of grew.

"It gave me a higher appreciation for the jobs that they did. It really allowed me to see how everything comes together for the greater good. I think that’s how my leadership has grown. For the most part, just the respect of every position.”

Again, it sounds good. But you know, and I know, and Winston knows that to be a leader, the team has show progress. It has to being going somewhere before anyone is willing to follow.

The best thing Winston can hope for is to grow into a leader.

Until then, it's all chatter.



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