TAMPA – Just as everyone expected them to, the folks at Hard Knocks have wisely onto Jameis Winston and are showing fans all sides of the Buccaneers young quarterback.
One of those sides in fact was part of the focus of the second episode of the show that aired on Tuesday night and it may have been the most interesting and revealing yet.
In getting a look into Winston’s leadership style, we saw not only how supportive he can be as a leader prior to a game but how acerbic he can be in the middle of one.
Just as you’d expect, Winston was shown inside the locker room prior to the Bucs preseason opener against the Bengals pumping up the team and almost every player on it.
He literally walked from player to player, exchanging right-handed daps and letting each one know “I got your back.’’
We then saw a little later on just how well he had fellow quarterback Ryan Griffin’s back after Griffin was lost to a right shoulder sprain in the third quarter.
Griffin, who is expected to miss at least a month and maybe more, was hurt when he was sacked from behind after rookie Cole Gardner whiffed badly trying to block defensive end Chris Smith.
Shortly thereafter, Winston unloaded on a few of the linemen – Gardner, Jarvis Harrison and Jeff Stone in particular – whom he later found chatting it and laughing a bit on the sideline.
“I’m happy y’all are having fun,’’ Winston said as he leaned into Harrison’s and Stone’s conversation, “but Ryan just hurt his shoulder. But keep having fun.’’
The last comment was made as Winston walked away from Harrison and Stone and appeared to look right into the eyes of Gardner, who was sitting just a foot or two away.
It was quite a telling moment. After all, Winston had previously implored the backup linemen to “protect’’ Griffin, reminding them that “that’s your quarterback.’’
“Keep him clean,’’ Winston said. “Look at me, I’m clean as hell. I might not have to take a shower tonight. Protect your quarterback. Protect him.’’
The line didn’t do a very good job of that. Griffin was hit several times in the game and Winston let them know about it. And you really have to love the way he went about it.
It’s one thing for a coach to jump a player and be critical of his failings. It’s quite another for a player to do it, because the message is often heard more clearly when it comes from a player.
And when that message comes from the unquestioned face of the franchise, well, you just have to believe it’s going to get through and that it’s going to hit home.
It was great to see that Winston is more than just an enthusiastic cheerleader who can pump his team up. He’s also a guy who can hold the players around him accountable and in the end that will probably prove to be his most valuable leadership quality.