For the first time in over 3 weeks Jameis Winston was back in front of a microphone at the Buccaneers facility. With his 3 game NFL suspension over, the former number one overall pick is anxious to put everything behind him.
And one thing he made repeatedly clear, it’s about the team first for Winston and that may mean supporting Ryan Fitzpatrick continuing to be the starting quarterback.
Winston spoke for over 10 minutes to the Tampa Bay media, as the Buccaneers prepare to resume practice and play the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier Field.
Try as they did, the media could not get Winston to say very much other than he’s excited to be back, understands the Bucs have had great success throwing the ball in his absence, and has learned from what has happened.
“I think the most important thing is being back in the building….Today (Wednesday) everybody came back in the building like energetic and it felt like home.”
On having confidence that Fitzpatrick would have success in his absence,
“Of course. I practice with this guy every single day…This guy hasn’t been playing in this league for 14 years for (just) any reason. Plus, when you have the weapons we have outside, when you add our intense….offensive line, and when they are protecting the way that they are, you can do nothing else but go out there and light it up.”
Winston has the potential to remain, as the franchise quarterback that Tampa Bay hope he would be. The word potential has to be inserted, because his suspension for conduct policy violation has called into question whether the Buccaneers owners, the Glazer family, will pay him “Megabucks” in a long-term deal.
There’s no question that the first two years for Winston had a long-term second contract in Tampa Bay look like a foregone conclusion. However, a shoulder injury hampered him a year ago and caused him to miss most or all of five different games, as the Bucs struggled to a 5 – 11 season.
And for all of the stats that Winston is put up, including back-to-back 4000 yard seasons in 2015 – 16, the veteran Fitzpatrick has electrified and energized the Buccaneers passing game at the beginning of the 2018 season.
One obvious part of that has been: Fitzpatrick’s success consistently putting the ball downfield in places where receivers can make plays. That’s something that Winston struggled with, especially in 2017.
Winston admitted Wednesday that it’s awkward to have been away for 3 weeks and now be back, but he also emphasized he is completely supportive of Fitzpatrick and the Bucs primary goal of winning games.
“I’m not a selfish player. It’s about our team. We’re out here doing big things….It’s a ‘win-win situation.” We’re out here ballin’ hard and we’re winning. Everyone’s happy. The community is behind us….as long as we’re happy, we’re good.”
The Bucs hope to keep it that way, with or without a contribution from Winston starting this week.
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