Talk of Fame Network
Add another name to the Jameis Winston Fan Club.
That would be Tampa Bay’s first-year head coach, Dirk Koetter, who called the plays last season that turned an offense led by a rookie quarterback (Winston) into the league's fifth-rated unit.
The formula then for Koetter was simple: Take the pressure off Winston by promoting a strong rushing attack and allow the quarterback to mature gradually. And the idea seemed to work, with Winston – who threw seven interceptions his first four starts – throwing eight the rest of the way.
Now Koetter believes Winston is ready to take another step forward.
“So how big is the upside?” he was asked on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “I think the upside is huge because Jameis loves to play football. He’s a tremendous leader, tireless worker, first guy in the building and the last guy to leave. Football is really, really important to him.
“He’s got plenty of things he can work on skill-wise, technique-wise, footwork-wise and delivery-wise. So still a lot of room to get better; a high ceiling. (But) the players want to play for him, play with him and play hard for him.
“I think the sky’s the limit. This guy’s been successful at every level, and I’m a true believer that he’ll be successful at this level, too.
The Bucs let Winston grow into the starter's job as a rookie, with Koetter saying, “We didn’t try to give him every single thing in the playbook.” But with one year of experience behind him, Winston should be ready for lift-off … at least, that’s how coaches see it in Tampa.
“Jameis is a really smart guy,” said Koetter. “It’s just (that) we chose as coaches not to put him in too many positions that we did not think he was ready for, and, yes, we have … even as the season went on last year … we gave him more and more.
"Yes, he does audible at the line of scrimmage. He did last year all the time. We give him either-or plays, pass-to-pass, pass-to-run, run-to-pass, run-to run checks. Handles all that stuff (with) no problem .
“Of course, now that Jameis knows what to expect – he’s been through a full NFL season offseason, preseason, regular season -- everything’s not new to him. Sure, we’re giving him more and more. We want him to test the boundaries. And you can always reel it back it when you get to the season and see how it’s going. We also think we’ll continue to be a good run team.”