Might Winston be an improved quarterback?

by Gary Shelton on August 7, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston is facing a crucial season for Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

You squint to see something different, something wiser, something better. Jameis Winston stands in front of the room, speaking, and he looks much like the man who attempted to talk away another interception, another defeat, another disappointment.

You hope for something different, for some special phrase he could say to convince you that he had made the change, that he had become proficient, that he had arrived. Oh, sure, there have been moments, maybe more than his critics would allow.

But Winston has been the quarterback whose team has won only five times in each of the last two years. Winston has won only three of them in each season. He has been battered, and he has been benched, and he has been booed.

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Is it all his fault? Of course not. The running game is lame, and the defense can't cover anyone, and the offensive line is wobbly. The defense allowed 29 points a game last year. What? Was Winston supposed to get 30 with no running game?

But Winston has had his own problems. Turnovers. Tantrums.

And then there is this: What is Winston supposed to say, really? What magic words could he speak to make you believe the light has been turned on for him? There are none. Winston will change minds through his play or not at all. Everyone knows that.

For instance, on Wednesday, Winston was asked what the ceiling was for this team. How good could it be?

"We can be as good as we want to be," he said.

Huh? What does that even mean? Were the Bucs 5-11 last year because that was as good as they wanted to be? Maybe they should try to be as good as the Patriots want to be.

Still, Winston has had back-to-back strong practices. That's a start.

“I feel like we as a team are getting better day by day, and those are the specific goals for training camp — to grow as a team," Winston said. "When you grow as a team and you get comfortable with everybody being around you, that’s when consistency shows up in every position."

Is it the defense that might make Winston better? “(Facing the defense)  really works out in our favor because we get to see every look in the book, and I think that’s what makes this defense so good with Coach (Todd) Bowles," Winston said. "He does a lot of different looks and it’s good for our receivers to see that. It’s definitely good for me to see that from a pressure standpoint, and our offensive line. So, it makes this whole team better.”

Is it the running backs? "I think it’s really good for them with the trust we have in the running backs to be outside and make plays. It puts a lot on our off line and myself. It’s six of us working . I think it’s good for them. Payton and RoJo."

Could it be newfound maturity now that he has a son? "Being a father is just a blessing in general," he said. "My son has helped me in so many ways. Being a better man makes you a better football player; being a better football player doesn’t make you a better man. My son is teaching me a lot of things in life, as well as my fiancé."

Could it be the newcomers? “I think the young guys, by far (are the most impressive). The Justin Watsons of the world — he’s doing phenomenal. RoJo (Ronald Jones) is doing phenomenal. Bobo (Wilson) is stepping up when he needs to step up. When you see those young guys picking up things fast and playing with confidence and getting open, that’s promising because now it’s going to push those older guys. J-Wat (Justin Watson) is out here making one-handed grabs – Mike (Evans) is going to be like ‘Hey, I’ve definitely got to get me a one-handed grab.’ J-Wat catching a ball and taking it 99 yards and it’s actually a true touchdown — it’s influencing our other guys to catch the ball and finish when they get the ball. Those two guys — especially Justin Watson and RoJo and Bobo in particular — and we’ve got Alex Cappa on the offensive line, who has been dominant. When you have young guys doing a great job, that speaks volumes on the veterans that are in their room (and) that are teaching them and pushing them along, but it also pushes those veterans to make them play even better.”

Whatever, Winston needs to get better. It's time.

“My goal every year is to get better every year," Winston said. "Statistically, that has happened in a lot of different things. Year five is another year that I have to get better. It really doesn’t hurt when you’ve got four years under your belt with Mike Evans, you’re about to have three years under your belt with Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard and you’ve got four years under your belt with Cam Brate, so that camaraderie helps. A lot of football teams don’t get that. When you’ve got guys who have been there for you – when you’ve got Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith, who have been with you your entire career, and you’ve got Dot (Demar Dotson) – it allows you to grow. It’s way bigger than football at that point. It’s more of a family thing. When you gel together as one, as we know, you can have a lot of success.”





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