TAMPA – Through his two plus years in the league so far, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has produced seven game-winning drives, including four in the fourth quarter.
The Bucs have reason to believe that, should they need him to do so going forward, Winston will only continue to deliver for them in the clutch in that way.
The Bucs have seen improvement from Winston across the board over the past year or so, but the area they think he’s improved in the most this season in in those clutch situations.
“If you look at the last two weeks, when he’s been at his best is when the game has been on the line,’’ Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken said of Winston on Thursday.
“We played the Giants (two weeks ago) and we scored (early in the fourth quarter) to take the lead, then they came back and scored but we came back and scored again to win the game. So, pretty good, right?
“Then last week (against the Patriots), he drives us down there (early in the fourth quarter) and we missed a field goal. But then he drives us down again and we score and then he drives us down there again and he gave us a chance to win. I mean, that’s kind of who he is.’’
It may be who he’s becoming. Though Winston engineered six game-winning drives, including three in the fourth quarter during his first two years in the league, he wasn’t all that efficient in the clutch.
In the fourth quarter of games in which the Bucs were ahead or behind by seven points, Winston produced a passer rating of 79.5 during his rookie season and a rating of 86.3 during his second season.
He’s made a big jump in that area this year, though, so far producing a passer rating of 113.7 in those situations by completing 12 of 19 passes (63.2-percent) for 189 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it … but some guys just have that in them,’’ Monken said of excelling in the clutch. “The moment just doesn’t seem to be too big for them, and part of it is, I don’t think he ever doubts his ability.
“He always believes that if he plays well we’ll win. And he owns it. If he believes he can make a play he’s not afraid to stand in there and take hits and make throws and that’s what happens when you’re down in a game and trying to come back.’’