Can Winston succeed behind a broken line?

by Gary Shelton on December 1, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Can Winston succeed behind a fractured line?/CARMEN MANDATO

Can Winston succeed behind a fractured line?/CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 3 a.m.

He has been injured. For the recrafted offensive line of the Tampa Bay Bucs, the chore is to keep Jameis Winston from being hurt again.

Winston, the third-year Bucs' quarterback, has missed three games with a shoulder injury.

Against the Packers, Winston will play without right tackle Demar Dotson or center Ali Marpet, who will be replaced in the lineup by Caleb Benenoch and Joe Hawley.

“It (the passing game) was better today than it was yesterday and I would anticipate it will be a little better tomorrow than it was

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today,” Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. “As far as the game goes,
when Sunday rolls around you’ve got to play the game. Do you account for it? I don’t know that you can account for it. You’ve got to play football. Jameis has played a lot of football and so have the other guys. You just don’t really have the option of easing a quarterback back into it. He either plays or he doesn’t.

“I’d like to see him play quarterback the best he can play quarterback. You threw out a whole bunch of stuff in there. You don’t just throw check-downs to throw check-downs. We’ve had this discussion before because if they are a man coverage team there are no check-downs. You’ve got to win with your three guys that are guaranteed in the route. The second thing is, the object of the game is not to move the chains. We had 28 first downs last week and we got beat. The object is to score points. The best quarterbacks play football — they do take what the defense gives them, but they also have to know when they need to go for it and throw it down the field.”

Koetter said that he thinks Winston will respond to missing time.

“I think he will respond. I know he is going to do everything he can to try to help our team get a win on Sunday. But you never know how the game is going to unfold. You don’t know that part. I mean no player wants to sit out and I don’t think there is value in being injured, but I do think there is some self-reflection when a player sits out and has to watch, whether he is watching at practice or having to be on the sideline during games. A guy that is, in Jameis’ case, 30-something games where he was out there and now you’re not — just watch those guys. Watch the guys that we don’t suit up on game day. They’re miserable. It’s not a fun thing for them, but then how it translates on the field when they come back — that is a hard call.”

Koetter said that offensive line is a concern.

“It’s a concern whether we had the changes or not because they are deep at outside linebacker. I think they roll about five guys a game through there. It’s not just the two you mentioned (Nick Perry and Clay Matthews) who are their top two, but they’ve got three or four other guys. Then when they are healthy, they’ve got two really tough guys on the inside too. Their deal is they try to get you in five-single blocks. They are a five-man rush team. They try to get your O-line in five singles, so you don’t have a free hitter in there. It’s five one-on-ones and that’s what makes it difficult. Of course, we are concerned about it.”

One thing that Winston could have learned from backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is his demeanor in the pocket.

“I just think as Jameis gains experience he will get better across the board at everything,” Koetter said. “When you are playing a team, your cut-ups are usually based off the four previous games. As we are playing the Packers this week, one of the four previous games is the Lions. So, in our cut-ups [and] in our meetings, we’ve had a lot of Matthew Stafford up there. I will use him as an example of a guy — we were just watching a couple plays today — that that wasn’t even what we were watching. When we are in the quarterback room, we’re watching the defensive structure and our keys and all that stuff. You can’t help notice other quarterbacks, whether it was (Ben) Roethlisberger in their game Sunday night – that’s also in our cut-ups. In the Detroit game – Jameis brought it up today — there was a play where Matthew Stafford pulled it down, reset his feet and got it out lightning fast. All of us, basically at the same time, were like, ‘Wow. That was a heck of a job by him.’ Even Fitz -- who is older than dirt -- noticed it.”

Winston said he benefitted from watching Fitzpatrick.

“I learned a lot in terms of just watching Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) prepare throughout the week,” Winston said. “When it came to the game, I was trying my best to be engaged and to put myself in the same situations Fitz has put himself in. But definitely seeing a veteran quarterback at his finest execute and lead this team was very eye opening to me. Just Ryan’s demeanor out there on the field. He is the same guy the whole time. The only time you see him rise is when he makes a competitive play out there on the field. He is a true competitor on the field, but on the sideline he is just a laid-back guy, letting things come to him (and) not trying to force things. I’m not talking about (forcing) the ball. I’m talking about trying to do too much or things like that.”

Winston said he will “absolutely” be vindicated in the latest charges by an Uber driver.

“I put my statement out there discussing this allegation and I’ve got to respect the process in that part. I’ve been vindicated several times on the past situations, so my statements on those accusations stand firm too. It’s always a growing process in everything. I’m going to continue to grow every day.”

Game time is 1 p.m. on Sunday.


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