Step 3 For Jameis

January 25th, 2017



If the Bucs are to emerge as a league power in the fall, they must add a few significant pieces on each side of the ball.

They need to find a true No. 2 receiver, revive a feeble ground game and show more toughness against the run. They can’t finish last in field-goal percentage or allow 34 completions of more than 25 yards.

One more thing — Jameis Winston has to be a better quarterback.

Heading into his third season, Winston should be proud of his accomplishments. He deserves to be the unquestioned face of this franchise, but that face is not without its blemishes.

There were too many times in 2016 when Dirk Koetter was confounded by Winston’s decisions. Winston’s touch on deep throws isn’t where it needs to be. He needs to cut down on his turnovers.

The best news for Buc fans is Winston’s obsession with being elite. He holds himself to the same standard for the position as Koetter, who will be crushed if Winston doesn’t eventually reach his full potential in Tampa.

When an encouraging season ended with the Bucs on the brink of an NFC playoff berth, Winston announced he’s ready to go to work.

“I’ll be talking more in-depth with coaches about what I need to specifically improve on, not just my typical improvements that I think I need to get better at,” Winston said. “I’m going to do my best to eliminate the negative parts of my game. I believe that getting better every single year is instrumental to being a great quarterback and leading this franchise.”

“The Anti-Freeman”

From ownership to everyone in football operations, the Bucs believe Winston will be an elite NFL quarterback. He’s not there yet, not by a longshot, but he just turned 23 and teammates can’t say enough about his competitive spirit.

“He’s a very mature guy to be his age,” says Gerald McCoy. “He puts the work in, man.”

In some ways, Winston appears to be the anti-Freeman.

In 2010, the Bucs thought they had a franchise quarterback in 22-year-old Josh Freeman, who turned in an extraordinary performance in his first full year as a starter.

Tampa Bay went 10-6 that season, but Freeman came back the next year and threw 22 interceptions. He wasn’t the primary culprit on a team that regrettably quit on Raheem Morris, but Freeman didn’t offer much help during a season-ending 10-game losing streak that ushered in a new head coach.

Freeman’s physical tools were comparable to Winston’s, but he failed to “put the work in.” McCoy keeps trying to beat Winston to One Buc Place every morning during the season, but it’s a losing proposition.

Winston’s on top, coming and going.

“I’ll leave late because I do extra rehab afterward and he is going into the meeting room,” McCoy says.” He’s going into the meeting room when I’m walking out the door. He just loves this game — and that’s why he is so successful.”

A look within his own division tells Winston everything he needs to know.

Defensive Mantra

Matt Ryan, preparing for the Super Bowl, is about to succeed Cam Newton as the league MVP. Drew Brees is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who led the NFL in passing yards and shows few signs of slippage at age 38.

Winston’s status as the No. 4 quarterback in the NFC South remains a driving force.

Only Philip Rivers (21) threw more interceptions than Winston (18) last season. There’s little doubt a better run game would help immeasurably. So would a speedy target to go along with Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate.

But most of all, better mechanics will lead to better results for a young quarterback with an unquenchable thirst for greatness.

“Nothing Jameis does surprises anybody on this team,” says safety Keith Tandy. “We always say on defense, get the ball back to Jameis and he’s going to make something happen. He’s going to make magic happen.”

Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter pens columns for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Ira Kaufman churns out his popular podcasts here Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also listen to the popular podcasts on iTunes or Podbean

14 Responses to “Step 3 For Jameis”

  1. mike Says:

    The guy need a real #2 for sure but guys like freddy martino were running around open and would get overthrown. He has to get more accurate and hit the open man. You tell accuracy is an issue bc in the redzone where windows are tight, he really struggled. Our recievers at times have no chance at YAC because they had to stop or dive to make the open catch.
    With that being said, h we he goes out of the pocket and has to make a play, he looks like big ben. Hopefully year 3 he takes the big jump. I know he will be working he a$$ of so thats a huge plus

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    Uh-oh! Someone’s criticizing Jameis! Sorry Ira, that’s not allowed!
    Seriously though, this article is 100% accurate. Just like everybody else on this team, he has to put in the work and improve. We will only go as far as Jameis takes us.

  3. Pickgrin Says:

    A good read Ira. The overall premise that Winston needs to improve in order for this team to improve is on target. Jameis knows it, coach K knows it, coach Bajakian knows it, you know it, I know it, we all know it.

    And yet it goes the other way as well. Jameis needs more help. He needs a reliable running game for starters and that was largely absent the entire 2016 season save for the SF game and a few other glimpses of solid blocking and running here and there. Dirk’s offense is somewhat reliant on run/pass balance and play action effectiveness. If the run game is not happening, then the defenders will be less influenced by play action and more prepared to rush and to defend the passes.

    And then there is the lack of receiver talent. Yes Evans is a monster. Top 5 in the NFL IMO and still not at his ceiling most likely. But if defenders doubled Evans as was often times the case, Jameis was having to look to Shorts, Shepard and Martino to make plays from the #2 spot – and we all know that is a situation just begging for “mistakes” to be increased. Whether on the QB or the receiver and we saw multiple examples of both last year that resulted in Winston’s rather high overall Interception #s.

    Of those 18 ints, I’d say at least 5 had absolutely nothing to do with Jameis making a mistake and that # is probably more like 6 or 7. And another 4 or 5 at least came off tipped balls by the receiver which were mostly catchable balls. But the stat is the stat and the 18 Ints is what it is. It was too many and Jameis has to do what he can to decrease Ints moving forward.

    And then there’s the Oline. LOL – Joe’s favorite subject. I’m not going to detail that subject other than to say what 97% of us all saw. The Oline was not as good as it was in 2015. Plain and simple. The run blocking was not nearly as good and the pass blocking still leaves a lot to be desired. We have a solid young nucleus in Marpet, Smith and Pamphile – but we need to upgrade the starter talent at the Center and RT positions and we need Donovan Smith’s play to improve at LT. OK – Nuff said.

    So to recap, Winston’s Oline was not good enough, the run game was not consistent nor reliable and he was working all year with one legit starting NFL receiver (albeit a very good one) and a group of udfas and castoffs as secondary options.

    To me, its pretty damn impressive that Winston was able to throw for over 4000 yards and a 41 y.o. franchise record 28 TDs considering what he was working with.

    Winston needs to get better – and its mainly because we all know he can and WILL get better. The young man is not even close to his ceiling in this league at this point and that’s what’s so exciting for Buccaneer fans.

    Winston will do his job and work hard to improve the weaknesses in his game – and assuming Licht does his job and fixes the # of talent holes that still exist on this team – I expect nothing less than legitimately competing for Super Bowls more years than not over the next decade.

    Those shades that Chucky joked about years ago are about to be needed because the future opportunities for this franchise in the long term are about as bright as I can ever remember and I’ve been a hardcore Buccaneer fan for more than 3 decades.

  4. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Funny Fameis has his do list of things he needs to work to improve I would agree. And why exactly do we never hear about what gmc needs to improve on over the off season. You know like tackles for lost, forcing fumbles or stripping the QB once in a while when you get those yearly 8 sacks.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    @Pickgrin- Drop the mic sir! Well stated. You summed it up nicely. Those who watched the games know that the 18 aren’t all on him. And, like you said, we know that he can be better. That’s the best part.
    Get the man some weapons.

  6. Bucsfanman Says:

    Why is everybody trolling GMC today? Nole you know good and well that training for the 2 positions is not even remotely similar. In addition, isn’t it always stated that Jameis and GMC are always crossing paths at the practice facility?
    Like everybody else on the team, EVERYBODY, GMC and Jameis need to work on their crafts.

  7. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    What part of post disturds you fanman. Can I not be critical of member of team I’m a fan of??? Sure he could give a rats about how I feel. I’m just saying bro. Cardio and weights don’t force fumbles bro. Effort dose.

  8. J 2.0 Says:

    I’m not going to say Jameis needs to “get better” at anything. I see that phrase thrown around a lot, but it isn’t accurate. He needs to continue progressing. That is accurate.

    He just turned 23 and has 32 NFL games and over 8000 passing yards and 50 TD’s under his belt. He got over 60% comp this season. Let’s give him the proper time.

    Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Andrew Luck. These guys were all 23+ years old as rookies. The future is extremely bright for Jameis. I am excited about next season.

  9. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Extremely excited 2.0

  10. JameisDungy Says:

    Just improve a little bit with his deep ball accuracy and cut out the bonehead turnovers = top 10 in the league.

  11. Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Ira, another great article. I always look forward to your postings.

  12. Bucwylde Says:

    I enjoyed the article Ira and I thought Pickgrin’s summation was spot on as usual 🙂

  13. Bucsfanman Says:

    Good word 2.0, ‘progression’.
    @Nole- Just wondering how GMC gets into a conversation about Jameis is all. I always advocate that NO player is without flaw. Thus, everybody needs work. All good.

  14. Jim Says:

    Ira, the voice of reason and the best commentator on this site. (He knows the difference between “to” and “too” also.)