Winston sees promising season waiting for Bucs

by Gary Shelton on July 29, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston has better weapons in his third season./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston has better weapons in his third season.0/CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday 3 a.m.

Day One, and Gerald McCoy ran into The Franchise. Yikes.

The Bucs were going through their paces in the broiling morning – a morning so hot you could see the birds sweat. Being McCoy, of course, he sliced through the Bucs' offensive line and rushed toward the quarterback. The team was only in helmets – not full pads – but McCoy is a large man.

And then he slammed into quarterback Jameis Winston.


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Jackson looks for daylight after a catch./CARMEN MANDATO

Jackson looks for daylight after a catch./CARMEN MANDATO

You don't juggle the hope diamond, and you don't surf on the Mona Lisa, and you don't make paper airplanes from an original draft of Romeo and Juliet. Some treasures are too valuable to be trifled with. You don't take a fungo to the Ten Commandments.

And, if you play for the Tampa Bay Bucs, you do not play bumper cars with Winston.

“Oh my gosh, man,” MCCoy said. “I almost teared up going to the next rep. Three is the franchise. Forget 93, forget 13, 11 and 1 – I don’t know what number he is going to be on any given day – 91, 98, 54, 58. 3, 3 is the one. If 3 ain’t out there, eh. But when I did that, I was ugh, eh, yeah.

Kwon Alexander cools off in the heat of the morning./CARMEN MANDATO

Kwon Alexander cools off in the heat of the morning./CARMEN MANDATO

“Once he saw it was me, it was like, ‘Ah, alright.’ But at the same time, I did the same thing, ‘Ah, ugh, uh.’ Then Dirk gave me that eye and I was like, ‘Shoot, that’s an office visit later. I’ll be in the principal’s office.”

 Actually, it wasn't that bad. McCoy, who forced a fumble on the play, immediately apologized to Winston.

“When you are the best defensive tackle in the league, you’re going to sack the quarterback sometimes,” Winston said, grinning. “So, he got to me. But, Gerald is the best. So, I got to get out of there.

 “He doesn’t have to apologize. You can’t apologize for being great.”

It starts here, of course. On the first day the Bucs started to sweat for real, the most important man on the grass was Winston. It has been from the day he arrived from Florida State. If the Bucs are going to be good, it will be because Winston allows it. If the Bucs are going to return to the playoffs, Winston will hold open the door.

“You know, everything is a process and everyone loves winners,” Winston said. “When you win, this community just jumps behind you. There’s no telling how good we can be with them behind us. We love our fans. I always think about that Seattle game. The games later in the season when that stadium got packed.

Evans makes a catch for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Evans makes a catch for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

packed. When we look up there and we see everybody behind us, we’re just like ‘Ok, we can’t let these people down.’ If we play a game and the other team has more fans than us, we’re like, ‘Is this a home game or is this an away game?’ Our fans play a big part in it and definitely having this community around us makes us strive harder.

“You know, this roster is amazing. It makes this whole team better. It’s not just about me because as they go, I go. As I go, we go. So, it’s complementary football.”

Winston is 23, going into his third season in the NFL. Naturally, the Bucs are expecting a better quarterback this year.

“There has been a lot said and written about that third-year thing,” coach Dirk Koetter said. “Even though I have coached for a long time, it’s not like you have a lot of guys (that you) coach for three years, so I don’t really know that. I just think the way Jameis works, Jameis is going to get better and better. I go back to this all the time, Tom Brady, 38; Drew Brees, 37; Matt Ryan, 32; Jameis Winston, 23. He’s going to get better. I don’t know how much this year, or how much next year, but he is going to get better.”

Winston, as usual, was lavish in his praise of his teammates.

On placekicker Roberto Aguayo, a college teammate at FSU: “Roberto is one of the greatest kickers of all time if you look at statistics. I don’t know much about the kicking competition, but I have confidence in both of our guys. Both of those guys are going to be successful no matter what and I have trust in both of those guys.”


Hargreaves should be better in his second season./CARMEN MANDATO

Hargreaves should be better in his second season./CARMEN MANDATO

On rookie receiver Chris Godwin: “Chris Godwin is a great talent and we have a lot of great guys out there. But I tell him, being a rookie is just a class. It’s what people call you. You don’t have to define yourself as being a rookie. Go out there and play hard, study and prepare. The sky is the limit for Chris Godwin and he is a great player.”

On receiver Mike Evans, who declined to give himself any grade higher than a B+ for his first three seasons: “Mike is an ‘A++’ to me. But, that’s the mentality that we have as a football team. Like I said, strive for perfection. Mike is a perfectionist. He wants to be the best receiver. I believe he is the best receiver in the league. I’m biased, but it is what it is. But, he wants to get better every year like we all do. Everyone wants to get better. No wants to just feel like they arrived.”

And, of course, on the playoffs. It has been 10 seasons since the Bucs reached the post-season.

“It’s definitely about putting your team in a situation to be in the playoffs and give yourself that chance,” Winston said. “This game is about creating opportunities, and who know what happens when you get in the playoffs. Anything can happen. You think about all the Wild Card teams that barely got in that end up winning a Super Bowl. That’s just a goal, the goal is to get there. Then after we get there, the goal is to win the Super Bowl.”

Running back Quayvon Hicks carries his teammates helmets./CARMEN MANDATO

Running back Quayvon Hicks carries his teammates helmets./CARMEN MANDATO




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